DeMar DeRozan

Southwest Notes: Wall, DeRozan, Pelicans, Porter

Rockets point guard John Wall, now waylaid indefinitely with a right hamstring strain, believes he is still a high-level player, telling reporters over the weekend that he feels he’s still “an All-Star in this league,” per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

Wall appeared in 40 games for Houston, his first on-court action since December 26, 2018, and averaged 20.6 PPG, 6.9 APG, and 3.2 RPG, while connecting on 40.4% of his field goal looks.

“Nobody really thought he would be able to play at a level, probably, too close to what he’s playing right now,” head coach Stephen Silas said of Wall’s play this season. “He’s proving a lot of people wrong and proving a lot to a lot of people. I’m his biggest fan.”

Feigen adds in a separate story that Silas remains hopeful Wall can still return to the court for the Rockets before the end of the year.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan has been reliably solid on offense in late-game scenarios, writes Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News. “I’m pretty sure San Antonio — as fans, the organization — appreciates him,” fellow Spurs guard Dejounte Murray noted of his veteran teammate, who will reach free agency this summer.
  • Despite 2019 No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson making his first All-Star team and Brandon Ingram, an All-Star in his own right last season, having another strong year, the Pelicans will almost certainly fall short of their playoff expectations for this season, as Scott Kushner of NOLA.com details. The Pelicans are currently four games behind the tenth-seeded Warriors for a crack at the play-in tournament, with just 11 games left to play for both teams.
  • It took multiple knee surgeries, but Grizzlies power forward Jontay Porter finally made his NBA debut last month, nearly three years after his last college game. Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal examines Porter’s journey to this point. The 21-year-old out of Missouri, younger brother to Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., has now appeared sparingly in eight games for Memphis.

Southwest Notes: White, Mavericks, DeRozan, Pelicans

Spurs guard Derrick White is currently enjoying the best month of his young NBA career, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News opines.

White, 26, is in his fourth season with San Antonio. As McDonald notes, he averaged 18.5 points per game in his 13 April contests heading into Saturday’s outing against New Orleans, which he finished with 22 points and five rebounds in 37 minutes of work.

“I just want to keep working and looking at what I can improve on,” White said, “but we are getting there.”

White has played a major role in the Spurs’ season, helping the team achieve a 30-29 record through 59 games. He’s averaging a career-high 15.5 points, three rebounds and 3.6 assists per contest.

Here are some other notes from the Southwest Division tonight:

  • The Mavericks have plenty of reasons to expect a top-six finish in the Western Conference, Tim Cato of The Athletic writes. Dallas currently owns the sixth-best record in the West at 33-26, taking its two most recent games against the Lakers (albeit without LeBron James) at home. The team trails the Lakers by 1.5 games for the No. 5 seed and leads the Blazers by one game for No. 6.
  • DeMar DeRozan‘s clutch play on Saturday helped the Spurs move closer to a spot in the NBA playoffs, McDonald writes in a separate story for the San Antonio Express-News. DeRozan recorded 32 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, shooting 10-of-21 from the floor.
  • For the Pelicans, even the team’s strengths have turned into weaknesses in key moments of a disappointing season, Christian Clark of NOLA.com writes. “We had hands on the ball, too,” coach Stan Van Gundy said after the loss to San Antonio. “It was disappointing because rebounding has been the one thing we’ve been able to count on all year and should be able to count on. Tonight, not so much.”

Atlantic Notes: Nets, Raptors, Knicks, Faried, Chiozza

Though the Nets certainly wouldn’t mind being the top seed in the Eastern Conference, what matters most to them is player health, writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post. The Nets are currently the second seed in the East with a 37-18 record, one game behind the 38-17 Sixers and 2.5 games ahead of the Bucks.

All-Stars Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving have appeared sparingly together as each player has missed time due to various injuries and personal reasons.

“Health is everything,” head coach Steve Nash noted. “It’d be great to have the No. 1 seed — I think it means a lot, it’s valuable — but not at the expense of losing players or prolonging our injury situation.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca wonders about the recent past and current trajectory for the Raptors if Toronto had never traded franchise stalwart DeMar DeRozan for 2019 Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who departed for the Clippers in free agency after leading the Raptors to a title during his lone season in Canada.
  • With injured center John Henson not expected to be re-signed to a second 10-day contract, the Knicks are considering other veteran big men for the newly-opened roster spot, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Berman reports that one option on New York’s radar is 31-year-old power forward Kenneth Faried, who most recently suited up for the Zhejiang Lions of the CBA in 2019.
  • Nets head coach Steve Nash appreciates that the team has had to adjust creatively to various absences. “We may not get any games with our whole roster,” Nash conceded, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “I don’t want to worry about or be concerned about things that are out of our control.” The club has employed 29 different starting lineups this season. Nash also acknowledged that, following a surgery on a fractured third metacarpal of his right hand, two-way Brooklyn point guard Chris Chiozza will be unavailable “basically for the regular season.”

Free Agency Notes: Cap Room, Kawhi, DeRozan, Paul

In an early look at the NBA’s 2021 free agent period, Sam Amick and John Hollinger of The Athletic write that three NBA teams – the Knicks, Thunder, and Spurs – project to have more than enough cap room for a maximum-salary contract this offseason, even if they were to win the draft lottery.

Besides those clubs, the Mavericks and Hornets should be among the clubs with the most space, according to Amick and Hollinger. The Athletic’s duo projects Dallas to be about $35MM below the cap if Josh Richardson opts out, while Charlotte will have about $26MM of room.

Other teams could create cap room, but that will hinge on one or two major roster decisions. For instance, the Raptors could get up to about $25MM in space, but not if they intend to re-sign Kyle Lowry. The Suns (Chris Paul) are in a similar position, with the Heat, Grizzlies, Pelicans, Hawks, Cavaliers, Bulls, and Pistons among the other teams whose cap space – or lack thereof – will depend on what happens with certain free agents.

Here’s more from Amick and Hollinger on 2021 free agency:

  • Although Kawhi Leonard projects to be the top free agent on the market this summer, team sources and rival executives widely expect him to re-sign with the Clippers, per The Athletic. It’s possible that could change if Los Angeles exits the postseason early, but there’s no indication at this point that Leonard’s free agency will be as dramatic as it was in 2019.
  • A source with knowledge of DeMar DeRozan‘s outlook tells The Athletic he’ll take a “wide open” approach to free agency. That doesn’t necessarily rule out a new deal with the Spurs, though a March report suggested DeRozan has interest in playing elsewhere next season and perhaps returning to the Eastern Conference.
  • Amick and Hollinger believe both DeRozan and Paul will keep Jrue Holiday‘s new four-year deal ($135MM guaranteed, $25MM in incentives) very much in mind when they negotiate their next contracts. However, it’s not a perfect comparable for either player, since Paul is five years older than Holiday and DeRozan isn’t the defender that Holiday is.

Fischer’s Latest: Gordon, Vucevic, Lowry, Redick, Ball, DeRozan

On the eve of the trade deadline, the Nuggets have become the favorites to pry Aaron Gordon away from the Magic, league sources tell Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Denver’s offer would include guard Gary Harris, a first-round pick, and either R.J. Hampton, Zeke Nnaji or Bol Bol.

Although the Nuggets seem to have the momentum, the Celtics are still “very engaged” in the process, according to Fischer. Boston’s proposed deal has involved Marcus Smart and a first-rounder, and it’s possible that a second first-round pick and the Celtics’ $28.5MM traded player exception could be used as well, with Evan Fournier also headed to Boston, says Fischer. Previous reports indicated that the C’s were looking to keep Smart out of the deal, offering a younger player in his place.

The Timberwolves, Rockets and Trail Blazers all remain interested in acquiring Gordon too.

Fischer passes on a few more trade rumors as the deadline draws near:

  • The Celtics are one of the few teams to express interest in trading for center Nikola Vucevic, but the Magic are putting a much higher price on him than Gordon. Orlando is asking for multiple first-round picks and a player who fits with their young core. Fischer expects Vucevic to stay with the Magic.
  • The Clippers, Lakers, Sixers and Heat are all still pursuing Kyle Lowry, but the Raptors‘ high price tag may prevent a deal from getting done. Fischer believes Philadelphia would have to offer two players from the group of Danny Green, Seth Curry and Tyrese Maxey, while Miami would need to part with Goran Dragic, another large salary and either Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson or Tyler Herro. Both Los Angeles teams are limited by their lack of available draft picks.
  • J.J. Redick appears headed for a buyout as the Pelicans haven’t found a team willing to offer draft picks or prospects in return for the veteran guard. Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report suggests a return to the Sixers is possible or maybe a reunion with former teammate Chris Paul on the Suns.
  • The Knicks are interested in Lonzo Ball and have the cap space to keep him in free agency, Pincus adds. The price could be Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox and possibly the Mavericks’ 2021 first-round pick.
  • Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan is also high on the Knicks‘ wish list, states A. Sherrod Blakely of Bleacher Report.

Spurs Rumors: DeRozan, Lyles, Gay, Aldridge

In addition to putting LaMarcus Aldridge on the trade block, the Spurs have also made it clear that veteran guard DeMar DeRozan is available, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Sources tell Fischer that DeRozan, who is earning $27.7MM in the final season of his five-year contract, has interest in playing elsewhere next season, perhaps returning to the Eastern Conference.

While the Spurs don’t typically make big in-season deals, it sounds like they’re at least gauging what they could get for DeRozan on the trade market. Fischer reports that the Knicks have considered trying to acquire the veteran guard, though some people in their front office don’t want to give up assets for players who could be signed in free agency.

There are people in the Bulls‘ front office that believe adding a player like DeRozan could push the team into the playoffs, sources tell Fischer. Additionally, Fischer says the Magic have discussed the idea of trading Evan Fournier and a pick for DeRozan, with an eye toward re-signing him in the offseason. At least one more Orlando player would need to be included in such a deal for salary-matching purposes.

Here’s more on the Spurs:

  • Trey Lyles and his representatives are interested in finding a new home for the veteran forward, multiple league sources tell Fischer. Lyles’ minutes have been inconsistent this season in a contract year — he was a starter for a short time just before and after the All-Star break, but has been a DNP-CD for the Spurs’ last five games.
  • The Spurs remain open to moving Rudy Gay, another veteran on an expiring contract, writes Fischer.
  • The Celtics and the Heat are the teams that have consistently been linked to Aldridge, though both teams appeared more focused on the possibility of landing him via buyout than trading for him, according to Fischer. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst also said on his latest Hoop Collective podcast that the Heat are widely viewed as the leaders for Aldridge, as RealGM relays.

Southwest Notes: Tucker, DeRozan, Mavs, Wood, Porter Jr.

P.J. Tucker has been traded by the Rockets to the Bucks but the veteran forward thought he’d be wearing a different uniform much sooner, Kelly Iko and Sam Amick of The Athletic report. Following a team meeting in January, Tucker expected to be included in the James Harden deal where he’s wind up in either Brooklyn or Philadelphia. Instead, Tucker – who is seeking an extension — spent two months waiting for the front office to find a new home for him.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • DeMar DeRozan has rejoined the Spurs, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. DeRozan had been away from the team for four games to attend his father’s funeral. DeRozan will be available to play against Cleveland on Friday.
  • With the Mavericks planning to rest Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis periodically, they might look to add another starting-caliber player before the trade deadline, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News speculates. Another experienced player off the bench who could provide an offensive boost would also be helpful, Caplan notes. But there are also some compelling reasons for the club to stand pat as well, which Caplan details.
  • With Christian Wood back in the lineup after a lengthy absence due to an ankle injury, he can now work on his chemistry with guard Kevin Porter Jr.., Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. Porter Jr. has averaged 19.6 PPG and 8.0 APG since returning from the G League.

Southwest Notes: J. Johnson, Rockets, Nwaba, DeRozan

Mavericks forward James Johnson, who left the team over the weekend to attend a personal matter in Wyoming, missed a mandatory COVID-19 test and will be sidelined due to the health and safety protocols until he registers a certain number of negative tests, head coach Rick Carlisle said on Tuesday, per Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News.

Johnson is now back in Dallas, but he won’t be active for any of the Mavericks’ three remaining games this week, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News, who tweets that the earliest the veteran forward could be cleared is for the March 24 contest against Minnesota.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • In the latest episode of The HoopsHype Podcast, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype and Kelly Iko of The Athletic previewed the Rockets‘ trade deadline, discussing possible suitors for Victor Oladipo and P.J. Tucker, as well as other players who could be available. Iko believes Ben McLemore could be had for a second-round pick and suggests that Christian Wood is the closest thing to an untouchable player on the roster.
  • David Nwaba decided to forgo wrist surgery and play through the injury for the shorthanded Rockets, but he reaggravated the issue a couple games ago, putting surgery back on the table, according to head coach Stephen Silas, who said Nwaba is “probably going to be out for quite a bit” (video link via Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston).
  • Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan will miss a fourth consecutive game on Wednesday for personal reasons, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link).
  • Although the Pelicans suffered a brutal loss in Portland on Tuesday night, the decision to expand the rotation has served the team well, giving New Orleans’ young players a chance to see more minutes, writes Scott Kushner of NOLA.com.

Southwest Rumors: Aldridge, DeRozan, Tucker, Wall, Bledsoe

While a number of teams around the NBA may be hoping LaMarcus Aldridge reaches the buyout market, all indications for now are that the Spurs will be able to make a trade, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic. Sources tell Amick that general managers inquiring on Aldridge have been told that five teams are “firmly in the mix.”

As Aldridge and the Spurs prepare to part ways, the team’s other former All-Star, DeMar DeRozan, remains a focal point of the team’s offensive attack, having averaged 20.3 points and 7.3 assists per game this season. San Antonio isn’t actively seeking a DeRozan trade, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. However, Haynes says that could change if the two sides don’t agree to an in-season extension before the trade deadline. Currently, no extension negotiations are active, Haynes adds.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • A source with knowledge of the Rockets‘ talks tells Sam Amick of The Athletic that about 70% of the league has inquired on P.J. Tucker. The Nuggets, who are seeking a forward capable of guarding multiple positions, are no longer believed to be in the mix for Tucker, since the asking price is so high — Amick says Houston has sought a young impact player and a first-round pick. The club would be doing well to acquire one or the other for the 35-year-old.
  • Rockets guard John Wall, who recently suffered a left knee contusion, is expected to have that knee scoped later this year, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Wall should be able to return soon from the contusion, but will have to undergo the scope eventually, says Haynes, noting that the veteran has previously undergone surgery on that knee.
  • According to Amick, Pelicans guard Eric Bledsoe is thought to be “very available,” but interest has been minimal so far. Bledsoe’s contract, which pays him $16.9MM this season and $18.1MM next year, will be an obstacle.

USA Basketball Expands Finalist List for Olympic Roster

Fifteen players have been added to the list of finalists for the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team, USA Basketball announced today in a press release. The group will eventually be pared down to 12 players who will participate in the Olympic Games, which are set for July 23 to August 8 in Tokyo.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will serve as coach for the U.S. team, with Warriors coach Steve Kerr, Villanova coach Jay Wright and former Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce as his assistants.

No tryouts will be held this year. Instead, USA Basketball will choose the final roster by early summer. Training camp is scheduled to being in early July before the conclusion of the NBA playoffs.

“With the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics from 2020 to 2021, it’s important that we continue to remain flexible and consider all players who can contribute to our efforts to field the best USA team possible,” USA Basketball men’s national team managing director Jerry Colangelo said. “These additions we are announcing today will help ensure that we are doing that. Having a larger player pool than what we normally have is critical because of all of the uncertainties we face about availability. But for USA Basketball to receive the commitment of so many outstanding players remains an indicator of the great honor of representing your country means to these men.”

The new names under consideration are:

  1. Jarrett Allen (Cavaliers)
  2. Eric Gordon (Rockets)
  3. Jerami Grant (Pistons)
  4. Blake Griffin (Nets)
  5. Jrue Holiday (Bucks)
  6. DeAndre Jordan (Nets)
  7. Zach LaVine (Bulls)
  8. Julius Randle (Knicks)
  9. Duncan Robinson (Heat)
  10. Mitchell Robinson (Knicks)
  11. Fred VanVleet (Raptors)
  12. John Wall (Rockets)
  13. Zion Williamson (Pelicans)
  14. Christian Wood (Rockets)
  15. Trae Young (Hawks)

Forty-two players remain from the original list, which was announced in February 2020:

  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 (Nets)
  18. Montrezl Harrell (Lakers)
  19. Joe Harris (Nets)
  20. Tobias Harris (76ers)
  21. Gordon Hayward (Hornets)
  22. Dwight Howard (Sixers)
  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 (Cavaliers)
  33. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  35. Victor Oladipo (Rockets)
  36. Chris Paul (Suns)
  37. Mason Plumlee (Pistons)
  38. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  39. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  40. Kemba Walker (Celtics)
  41. Russell Westbrook (Wizards)
  42. Derrick White (Spurs)

Two players removed from that list are Warriors guard Klay Thompson, who is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon, and Celtics guard Marcus Smart. Sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic that Smart turned down an invitation because of injury concerns due to having a short offseason and playing late into consecutive seasons (Twitter link).