DeMar DeRozan

Spurs Notes: Aldridge, DeRozan, T. Jones, Mills

LaMarcus Aldridge may be looking at his last chance to prove he can help the Spurs win before the team decides to move in a different direction, writes Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express-News. Aldridge is expected to return to the lineup tonight after missing the past six games with a sore right hip. He’s officially listed as questionable, but the Spurs need him after losing half their rotation to health and safety protocols.

Finger notes that the team was playing its best basketball last week with Aldridge on the sidelines. A younger, faster lineup strung together six straight wins and pushed San Antonio into fifth place in the Western Conference.

Aldridge is in his sixth year with the Spurs and has helped the team remain a yearly playoff contender after the championship core retired. He remains somewhat productive at age 35, averaging 14.1 points and 4.3 rebounds in 18 games this season, but will be a free agent this summer and may not have a future in San Antonio even if he remains with the team past the trade deadline.

There’s more on the Spurs:

  • DeMar DeRozan‘s agent, Aaron Goodwin, is upset that his client wasn’t part of the All-Star reserves that were announced Tuesday despite being the leading scorer and play-maker on a top-five seed in the West. DeRozan has numbers worthy of All-Star consideration, averaging 19.8 points. 5.0 rebounds and 6.9 assists in 25 games. “I’d love to see the coaches’ votes,” Goodwin said. “At some point, the winning has got to matter.”
  • The Spurs are encouraging DeRozan to take as much time as he needs with his family after his father died last week, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. DeRozan missed two games in January to spend time with his father, and teammates have praised his ability to stay focused on basketball during a time of crisis. “It’s a difficult situation,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “But I’ve been in touch with him. He is a very mature, kind man, and he is doing what he needs to do with his family right now.”
  • Rookie guard Tre Jones, who led the G League in assists before being recalled this week, has impressed his teammates with his feel for the game, Orsborn adds in the same story. “He has a huge basketball IQ and understands the flow and what’s needed at times, when to score, when to pass, when to set up the team and get other people involved,” Patty Mills said. Jones saw limited playing time in nine games with the Spurs before the G League assignment.

Spurs Have Five Players Under Protocols; DeRozan Also Out Wednesday

The NBA postponed the last four Spurs games due to coronavirus positives and contact tracing. There’s now more clarity on which players are in the league’s health and safety protocols, as well as hope that their next scheduled game against the Thunder on Wednesday will be played.

The Spurs announced on Monday that Rudy Gay, Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, Quinndary Weatherspoon and Derrick White remain under the league’s protocols and are not with the team. That group will not travel to Oklahoma City. Additionally, DeMar DeRozan will miss the game due to personal reasons.

However, LaMarcus Aldridge has been upgraded to active, according to Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News (Twitter links). He hasn’t played since February 1st due to a hip injury.

As previously reported, the Spurs on Monday recalled guard Tre Jones and forward Luka Samanic from the Austin Spurs. That would give the team 10 available players, two more than the minimum required to play.

San Antonio practiced on Monday, Orsborn added.

Weatherspoon was the only San Antonio player prior to Monday to be named publicly as being under the league’s health and safety protocols. The games postponed were all on the road — Detroit, Cleveland, New York and Indiana — which means the Spurs will have a busy schedule in the second half of the season. They also have to make up a January 25th postponement, a road game against New Orleans.

Southwest Notes: Winslow, JJJ, Aldridge, DeRozan, Rockets

Justise Winslow, who has yet to appear in a game for the Grizzlies since being acquired nearly a year ago at the 2020 trade deadline, hopes to return to the court later this month, he said on Monday. As Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal writes, Memphis’ lengthy hiatus due to contact tracing in January set Winslow back slightly due to a lack of practice opportunities, but he’s getting close.

“I’m feeling great, my hip feels great. I’m really close to getting back on the court, hopefully sometime this month,” the Grizzlies forward said. “I really don’t have an exact day in mind. Just with COVID and how our team had to miss almost a week of practice and that sort of thing, that set me back, just without being able to have proper access to workouts and things like that.”

Meanwhile, Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. will have his rehab process ramped up in the coming weeks as he looks to return from meniscus surgery, as Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian reports (via Twitter). Herrington doesn’t anticipate Jackson will return to action before the first half ends on March 4, but there’s no set timeline yet for the 21-year-old’s season debut (Twitter link).

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • People around the NBA are curious to see what the Spurs will do with veterans LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan, who are both on expiring contracts, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Aldridge’s value is “declining quickly,” according to O’Connor, who believes that DeRozan might be the best player on the trade market if San Antonio were to make him available.
  • Within the same story, O’Connor notes that some executives around the NBA are wondering if the Rockets could end up being a buyer – rather than a seller – at the trade deadline. O’Connor expects teams to call about Victor Oladipo and P.J. Tucker, who will both be free agents this summer, but suggests Houston shouldn’t feel any pressure to make a deal. The club could entertain any favorable opportunities that arise, whether that means buying or selling, O’Connor adds.
  • The Rockets got back to .500 on Saturday night by winning their fifth consecutive game, prompting head coach Stephen Silas to express that his club is “moving in the right direction for sure.” Kelly Iko of The Athletic has the story on Houston’s recent hot streak, as well as Oladipo’s comfort level, Christian Wood‘s All-Star case, and the team’s strong depth.

Southwest Notes: DeRozan, Gasol’s Homecoming, Wood, KP

Spurs wing DeMar DeRozan has added a three-point shot and built upon his passing game this year, all while taking a step back from lead ball-handling duties, according to Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer. In his 12th NBA season, DeRozan is shooting a career-best 42.9% from deep on 2.6 attempts per contest, while averaging a career-high 7.3 assists per game.

Tjarks notes that DeRozan is averaging 10 fewer touches a game this season than young Spurs guard Dejounte Murray. DeRozan has also closed games as a small-ball power forward, carrying over a sped-up, shooting-heavy offensive approach that coach Gregg Popovich first implemented during the 2019/20 season restart in Orlando.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • New Lakers center Marc Gasol, a three-time All-Star and the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year with the Grizzlies, had an interesting homecoming experience during a 108-94 defeat of Memphis this week, per Mark Giannotto of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Facing a FedExForum arena bereft of fans due to a raging pandemic, the 35-year-old big man noted that, “In your mind,” Gasol said, “the stands also are full.” Though Gasol was traded to the Raptors during the 2018/19 season en route to a title with Toronto, this marked his first game back at the arena where he became a star.
  • New Rockets star center Christian Wood struggled with going undrafted out of UNLV in 2015 and being waived by several NBA clubs before getting the security of the three-year, $41MM contract he signed with Houston during the 2020 offseason, as Marc J. Spears of the Undefeated details. “It showed me how hard I worked and how far I came from going from a minimum and non-guaranteed contract to being waived a number of times that I couldn’t even tell you,” Wood said.
  • Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle has suggested that starting center Kristaps Porzingis could be close to his return for Dallas, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News tweets. Carlisle indicated that Porzingis could return approximately a week from now “if all things continue to go well.”

Raptors Notes: DeRozan, VanVleet, Siakam, TV Deal

The Raptors are among the teams rumored to be interested in acquiring James Harden, but Michael Grange of Sportsnet believes DeMar DeRozan might be a better fit. DeRozan, a franchise cornerstone in Toronto for nine seasons, scored 27 points Saturday night to help the Spurs defeat his former team.

“I think throughout the years I’ve known him, played with him, played against him in the last couple, I think he just continues (to grow),” said Raptors guard Kyle Lowry. “… He’s become more of a playmaker, and I think that’s his strength right now, is still being able to score but he’s able to play make for everybody else and make life easier for the other guys, like role players, and getting guys the ball where they need it and getting them open looks and giving them confidence to be good.”

All that sounds perfect for Toronto, according to Grange, who states that the team could use another multi-talented offensive threat. DeRozan is making $27.7MM in the final year of his contract, Grange adds, so the Raptors may target him in free agency if they don’t want to give up part of their young core in a trade.

There’s more on the Raptors:

  • Fred VanVleet has evolved into a leadership role, according to Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. VanVleet is ready for that responsibility after inking a four-year, $85MM deal over the offseason that ensures his long-term future with the team. “I’ve been in this position for a long time now, since I was a little kid, and there were times I wasn’t so good at it and times I’ve been great,” he said. “I just try to manage that every day and just try to help guys reach their full potential.”
  • Everything was going well for the Raptors in March, but they haven’t been the same team since the league went on hiatus, Smith observes in a separate storyPascal Siakam in particular looked like a different player during the restart in Orlando. “It was weird watching myself,” he said. “When I watched the game, one of the things I really pointed out was just that I didn’t recognize myself in terms of having fun. I’m always someone that has fun playing the game. I love this game, and I don’t ever want to play the game without any joy.”
  • The Raptors have reached a deal to have some of their games televised locally in their temporary home of Tampa, Florida, writes Eduardo A. Encina of The Tampa Bay Times. The Magic own territorial rights to the area.

Southwest Notes: Vassell, DeRozan, Tucker, Pelicans, Redick, Bledsoe

Spurs swingman DeMar DeRozan is helping to teach rookie Devin Vassell the nuances of the NBA game, Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express News writes. Vassell was selected with the 11th overall pick in the draft and also plays on the wing. “A lot of times, even in practice, he comes to me and asks questions,” DeRozan said. “That’s big for a young guy to to be able to come to our vets and just ask questions, ask what he is doing wrong, what he can do better.” Vassell had 12 points, six rebounds and three steals in 24 minutes during his preseason debut.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Seeking an extension, Rockets forward P.J. Tucker says he wants to go “where I am wanted,” Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets. Tucker promises to “do my job” even if the club doesn’t offer him an extension. Tucker, who will make approximately $7.97MM this season, will enter unrestricted free agency next summer.
  • The Pelicans’ acquisition of center Steven Adams from the Thunder and subsequent decision to give him an extension was a head-scratcher, John Hollinger of The Athletic opines. They could have instead acquired a better shooter in Al Horford or re-signed Derrick Favors. They also would have been better off holding onto George Hill, rather than dealing him in the same multi-team trade involving Denver and Oklahoma City, Hollinger contends. Hill is a better shooter than Eric Bledsoe and New Orleans also has enough depth at the point, Hollinger adds.
  • Bledsoe will have to pass a series of tests before he can rejoin the Pelicans, coach Stan Van Gundy told The Athletic’s Will Guillory and other media members (Twitter link). Bledsoe left the market due to a personal matter and missed a COVID-19 test. J.J. Redick was held out of the team’s preseason game on Monday due to contact tracing.

And-Ones: Ferrell, G League, DeRozan, Brown, NBRA

Free agent guard Yogi Ferrell is still seeking NBA opportunities, according to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia. His agent, Cervando Tejada, denied a report that he was negotiating with FC Barcelona in the EuroLeague. “Ferrell is in (the) U.S. working out and waiting for another NBA opportunity and no talks have happened with Barcelona as of now,” Tejeda told. Ferrell played for the Kings the past two seasons and appeared in 50 regular-season games as a reserve last season, averaging 4.4 PPG in 10.6 MPG.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • NBA teams are offering fewer Exhibit 10 contracts to players on their training camp rosters, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. There were 51 players on Exhibit 10 contracts as of Saturday, down from 128 two seasons ago. Players receive a $50K bonus if he spends 60 days with the G League affiliate of the team that signed him. But with the uncertainty regarding the G League’s season, such contracts have become less valuable, Marks adds.
  • Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan chased an intruder out of his house last month, according to a TMZ report. DeRozan confronted the man, who had made his way upstairs into a play area where at least one of DeMar’s kids was located. The intruder was arrested after attempting to get back into DeRozan’s gated community.
  • Warriors associate coach Mike Brown has aspirations of turning the Nigeria national basketball team into a powerhouse, Colin Udoh of ESPN writes. Brown has become Nigeria’s head coach and he believes there’s enough talent to earn a medal at next year’s Tokyo Olympics. “Our goal is to finish on the podium,” he said. “We want to show the world that we can compete with the best of them. And I think, with the talent that we have, it’s a realistic goal for us.”
  • The National Basketball Referees Association has ratified a Letter of Agreement which modifies its collective bargaining agreement with the NBA for the 2020/21 season, the NBRA tweets. The modifications address COVID-19 issues and provide for the officials’ waiver of certain work rules in order to implement those health and safety protocols.

Southwest Notes: Cousins, DeRozan, Johnson, McLemore

Rockets center DeMarcus Cousins is excited to be reunited with John Wall this season, a decade after the longtime friends were college teammates at Kentucky, as relayed by Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

“Man, that’s incredible,” Cousins said. “That’s something we planned and dreamed about for a long time. I’m pretty sure he’s just as grateful for this moment as I am. I’m super excited. There’s obviously a chemistry between me and him from our college days. Not only were we teammates in college, we’ve known each other since we were 14 years old. He was actually one of the groomsmen in my wedding. That’s my brother for life.

“I believe his game speaks for itself. He’s an incredible talent. That’s a given. The combination of him and James (Harden), that’s tough for any team to match up with.”

Houston acquired Wall, along with a 2023 protected first-round pick, in exchange for Russell Westbrook in a trade with the Wizards last week. The team has reloaded with hopes of contending this season, surrounding Harden with Wall, Cousins, Christian Wood, Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker and others.

Here are some other notes from the Southwest Division tonight:

  • Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan is prepared to buy into the team’s current situation, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News writes. DeRozan, 31, is set to enter his third season with San Antonio, a team that has a mixture of young players and veterans, after picking up a $27.7MM player option to return to the club last month. “That was one of my main reasons for coming back,” DeRozan said, “The faith and the confidence I had in those young guys and wanting to be a part of what we started in the bubble.”
  • Mavericks forward James Johnson has yet to practice due to a strained MCL, coach Rick Carlisle said, as relayed by Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). Johnson is on track to be involved in some activity by Tuesday or Wednesday, Caplan adds.
  • Rockets guard Ben McLemore hopes to improve on his best NBA season to date with the team, returning with hopes of establishing himself as a better player in his second campaign, Jonathan Feigen writes in a separate article for the Houston Chronicle. McLemore, 27, averaged 10.1 points in 22.8 minutes per game last season, shooting 44% from the floor and 40% from behind the arc.

DeMar DeRozan To Exercise 2020/21 Player Option

Spurs wing DeMar DeRozan will exercise his player option for 2020/21, putting off free agency for another year, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The move will guarantee DeRozan’s $27,739,975 salary.

DeRozan, 31, had a strong season for San Antonio in 2019/20, averaging 22.1 PPG, 5.6 APG, and 5.5 RPG with an impressive .531 FG% in 68 games (34.1 MPG).

Back in March, before the season went on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, one report suggested that DeRozan would likely opt out if he didn’t receive an extension from the Spurs, while a separate report indicated the veteran scorer wasn’t thrilled with his situation in San Antonio.

The financial impact of the pandemic made DeRozan’s decision to opt in a fairly simple one, however. Only two or three teams will have the cap room necessary to have matched his option salary, and those teams finished in the lottery and may not have made DeRozan a top priority. He’ll be better off trying his luck on the open market in 2021, when more clubs will have cap flexibility.

Of course, just because DeRozan is under contract for one more year, that doesn’t mean he’ll spend the entire season with the Spurs. San Antonio is believed to be shopping some of its veterans, including DeRozan, who reportedly drew interest from the Lakers before they agreed to acquire Dennis Schröder. We’ll see if any other suitors pop up in the coming days for the former Raptor.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Los Angeles Notes: Bradley, Mannion, DeRozan, Westbrook

Avery Bradley, who has a decision to make on his player option, is changing reps and plans to sign with Charles Briscoe, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The Lakers guard, who chose not to play during the restart, can become an unrestricted free agent if he declines the $5MM in the final year of his contract. Bradley averaged 8.6 PPG last season and started 44 of 49 games before play was halted in March. He turns 30 later this month.

We have more on the Los Angeles teams:

  • The Lakers, who hold the No. 28 pick in Wednesday’s draft, worked out University of Arizona point man Nico Mannion on Tuesday in Arizona, Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times tweets. GM Rob Pelinka was among the Lakers’ reps who attended the workout. Mannion, who averaged 14.0 PPG and 5.3 APG as a freshman last season, is currently ranked No. 25 on ESPN’s Best Available list.
  • The Lakers are reportedly interested in Spurs swingman DeMar DeRozan despite his $27.7MM cap hit and Jordan Greer of Sporting News believes he would be a good fit. DeRozan’s ability as a playmaker would give the Lakers another proven scorer when LeBron James and Anthony Davis aren’t sharing the court. DeRozan’s defensive shortcomings could be masked by a combination of the coaching staff’s schemes and Anthony Davis‘ shot-blocking, Greer adds.
  • Russell Westbrook would give the Clippers a third star but they shouldn’t pursue a deal for the disgruntled Rockets guard, Jovan Buha of The Athletic opines. Westbrook is a ball-dominant guard whose efficiency has waned in recent seasons, Buha notes. He’s not an off-the-ball threat, as he made just 25.8% of his 3-point attempts last season, allowing defenders to sag off him. Trading for his contract would also force the Clippers to gut their roster to match salaries, Buha said.