The Pelicans confirmed earlier this week that they won’t replace head coach Alvin Gentry, but it appears some changes are coming to Gentry’s coaching staff. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, New Orleans is close to hiring Nuggets associate head coach Chris Finch as an assistant.
Sources tell Stein that the Pelicans have gone after Finch in the hopes of adding his “offensive brainpower” to their bench. As Stein observes, Finch was partly responsible for Denver’s offensive improvement centered around big man Nikola Jokic, so the Pelicans are hoping adding the veteran coach will allow the club to take full advantage of Anthony Davis‘ and DeMarcus Cousins‘ talents.
Before he joined the Nuggets in 2016, Finch coached Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics in London and worked for the Rockets organization for the better part of a decade. He was hired as the head coach of Houston’s D-League team, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, in 2009, and then joined the Rockets as an assistant in 2011.
Finch was promoted to associate head coach by the Rockets in 2014, and retained that title when he was hired by the Nuggets last year. I would guess he’ll have a similar role in New Orleans if and when he and the Pelicans finalize his new deal.
Clippers free agent J.J. Redick will get a lot of interest from the Eastern Conference, and the Sixers may be the leading contender, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. In a video posted on the Vertical website, several analysts offer their visions of the future for Philadelphia after winding up with the third pick in next month’s draft. Wojnarowski believes the Sixers will make a strong play for Redick, an 11-year veteran who would fill a position of need at shooting guard while bringing leadership to the locker room. Redick will probably receive offers starting at $16MM to $17MM annually, Wojnarowski predicts, and Philly’s strongest competition for him will come from the Nets, as well as the Knicks if they can clear enough cap room.
There’s more tonight out of Philadelphia:
- The Sixers may try to trade down in the draft, suggests The Vertical’s Bobby Marks in the same video, because there isn’t a perfect fit for them at No. 3. They are believed to have interest in Kentucky guard Malik Monk, who could be available a few picks later. Marks says the Kings, who own picks No. 5 and No. 10, might emerge as a trading partner. He adds that Philadelphia also owns an unprotected Lakers pick next season, an unprotected Kings pick in 2019 and a pick from the Thunder in 2020 that is top-20 protected, all of which could be used as trade assets.
- President of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo was planning a “measured, organic growth path” if the Sixers came away from Tuesday’s lottery with two picks, relays Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Instead, the Lakers landed in the top three and got to keep their selection for another year, which leads Colangelo to a more aggressive approach that will involve seeking veteran help through trades and free agency. “We are going to have both opportunities available to us now,” he said. “We are going to look at all those alternatives, all those options.” Pompey lists Redick, Kyle Lowry, Otto Porter, Danilo Gallinari and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as free agents the team might target.
- Jahlil Okafor is an obvious candidate to be used as a trade chip, writes Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly. The second-year center has been a poor fit in Philadelphia since being drafted in 2015. Many observers expected him to be dealt at the February deadline, but Nerlens Noel was shipped to Dallas instead. “I want to find a situation that’s great for us and great for Jahlil, and if that means him staying here then that’s great,” Colangelo said. “He’s a great kid and a great player and we’re going to see how he fits with this group.”
The Celtics will pick first overall in the 2017 NBA draft, having won Tuesday night’s lottery one night after they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals. The C’s, who exercised their rights to swap with the Nets, entered the lottery with the best odds (25.0%) to land that No. 1 overall pick.
The Lakers were the other big winners in the lottery, moving up to No. 2, ensuring that they’ll keep both this year’s pick and 2019’s first-rounder. Had Los Angeles’ pick fallen outside of the top three, it would have been sent to the Sixers, and the Lakers would’ve owed their unprotected 2019 first-rounder to Orlando. Instead, the Lakers will keep this year’s pick and 2019’s, and will send Philadelphia their unprotected 2018 first-round selection.
The Kings also moved up into the top three, but the Sixers will acquire that pick, exercising their right to swap with Sacramento. The Kings will pick at No. 5, which is where Philadelphia would have selected. Sacramento will also land the Pelicans’ selection at No. 10. That New Orleans selection was acquired by the Kings in February’s DeMarcus Cousins trade and was top-three protected.
The Suns are the night’s biggest losers, having moved from No. 2 in the lottery standings down to No. 4 overall. The Magic, Timberwolves, and Knicks each moved down one spot as well.
Here’s the full lottery order for the 2017 NBA draft:
- Boston Celtics (via Nets)
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Philadelphia 76ers (swapped with Kings)
- Phoenix Suns
- Sacramento Kings (swapped with Sixers)
- Orlando Magic
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- New York Knicks
- Dallas Mavericks
- Sacramento Kings (via Pelicans)
- Charlotte Hornets
- Detroit Pistons
- Denver Nuggets
- Miami Heat
Tonight’s lottery results are fascinating on a number of levels, but particularly so for two of the NBA’s most-storied franchises, the Celtics and Lakers. Boston is in position to either pick a player like point guard Markelle Fultz, considered by draft experts to be a future star, or to dangle that No. 1 overall pick in a trade for an established veteran star next month. The Celtics are coming off a season in which they earned the top seed in the East, and they also own the Nets’ unprotected first-round pick in 2018, so the franchise is extremely well-positioned for the future.
As for the Lakers, they’ll breathe a sigh of relief after hanging onto their 2017 first-rounder, and they’re in position to create a union that has been the subject of much speculation in recent weeks. UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball is widely viewed as the second-best prospect in this year’s draft, and he and his father LaVar have made no secret of the fact that Lonzo wants to play for the Lakers. Tonight’s lottery results make that a very real possibility.
The Kings are another winner tonight, having moved up from No. 8 to No. 5 and having also held onto the Pelicans’ pick at No. 10. Sacramento will be in a great position to pick two cornerstone pieces to kickstart the club’s rebuilding process.
The NBA confirmed each team’s representatives today for this year’s draft lottery, which will take place on Tuesday night. As confirmed by the league (via Twitter), here are this year’s reps for lottery teams:
- Boston Celtics: Wyc Grousbeck (owner)
- Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker
- Los Angeles Lakers: Magic Johnson (president of basketball operations)
- Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid
- Orlando Magic: Frank Vogel (head coach)
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Andrew Wiggins
- New York Knicks: Walt Frazier (MSG Network broadcaster)
- Sacramento Kings: Dave Joerger (head coach)
- Dallas Mavericks: Michael Finley (assistant VP of basketball operations)
- New Orleans Pelicans: Alvin Gentry (head coach)
- Charlotte Hornets: Rich Cho (GM)
- Detroit Pistons: Jeff Bower (GM)
- Denver Nuggets: Gary Harris
- Miami Heat: Alonzo Mourning (VP of player programs)
Additionally, the NBA also announced that it will reveal several award winners and award finalists later this week. The league will unveil its three All-NBA teams on Thursday. Then, prior to the Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday, the NBA will name its three finalists for each major award: MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Most Improved Player, and Coach of the Year.
Those individual awards won’t be officially announced until June 26, during the NBA’s inaugural awards broadcast on TNT. However, the All-NBA announcement on Thursday will be an intriguing one. A team’s ability to offer a player a more lucrative Designated Veteran Extension hinges on whether or not he earns an All-NBA nod. So teams like the Pacers and Jazz will be watching very closely to see if Paul George and Gordon Hayward earn All-NBA spots and become eligible for those super-max extensions.
While this year’s draft class features a clear-cut top two in Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball, the consensus rankings breaks down after that, says ESPN’s Chad Ford (Insider link). As Ford explains, some teams would likely target Kansas forward Josh Jackson with the No. 3 pick, but others – like the Sixers, Magic, Timberwolves, and Knicks – may be more inclined to nab Kentucky sharpshooter Malik Monk once Fultz and Ball are off the board.
Jackson or Monk come in at No. 3 for most of the lottery teams, Ford writes that Dennis Smith Jr. might be the best fit for the Nuggets after the two top point guards. Meanwhile, Ford also suggests that Ball could be a better fit than Fultz for some teams near the top of the lottery, including the Lakers, who “appear to be enamored” with the UCLA product.
Here are a few more draft-related notes worth rounding up:
- Most of this year’s top 10 prospects won’t be in Chicago next week for the NBA’s draft combine, but De’Aaron Fox is expected to attend, a source tells Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Outside of Fox, Markelle Fultz is the only other top prospect whose combine intentions haven’t been reported, though it would be a surprise if Fultz participated.
- Duke prospect Jayson Tatum isn’t getting any real buzz as a candidate to be picked first overall, but in an appearance on The Sidelines podcast with Evan Daniels, Tatum made the case for why he should be.
- North Carolina’s Justin Jackson has officially gone pro, forgoing his remaining NCAA eligibility by hiring agent Jim Tanner, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). Jackson is viewed as a potential lottery pick.
The Timberwolves have finalized the purchase of the Iowa Energy, a D-League franchise, the team announced today (Twitter link). The Energy previously had a partnership with the Grizzlies, but we learned back in January that the Wolves would be taking over control of the Des Moines-based club going forward.
In the wake of today’s announcement, it makes sense to take stock of where things stand in regard to NBA teams and their D-League affiliates. In 2016/17, 22 NBA clubs had one-on-one relationships with D-League teams, leaving eight NBA franchises without their own affiliates. However, changes are in store for the 2017/18 season, as the Development League becomes known as the Gatorade League.
Here are the changes expected for the 2017/18 G-League season, including updates on all the teams without affiliates:
- Atlanta Hawks: Will take over the Erie BayHawks, with an affiliate of their own in College Park, Georgia lined up for the 2019/20 season. Previously unaffiliated.
- Denver Nuggets: No concrete plans reported.
- Los Angeles Clippers: Hoping to operate new affiliate in 2017/18.
- Memphis Grizzlies: Will own and operate a new affiliate in Southaven, Mississippi. Previously affiliated with the Iowa Energy.
- Milwaukee Bucks: Will own and operate a new affiliate in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Previously unaffiliated.
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Will take over the Iowa Energy. Previously unaffiliated.
- New Orleans Pelicans: No affiliation for 2017/18. Intend to own and operate a new affiliate for the 2018/19 season. Search reportedly narrowed to six cities.
- Orlando Magic: Will own and operate a new affiliate in Lakeland, Florida. Previously affiliated with the Erie BayHawks.
- Portland Trail Blazers: No concrete plans reported.
- Washington Wizards: No concrete plans reported.
The Clippers’ latest playoff flameout — and Blake Griffin‘s latest playoff injury — have raised the chances of a major offseason shakeup in Los Angeles. Griffin and Chris Paul are both expected to opt out this summer and seek maximum deals, and the organization would face major luxury tax payments if both are re-signed.
While Paul is believed to be likely to stay in L.A., the Clippers may not be as committed to retaining Griffin, despite owner Steve Ballmer’s pledge to spend whatever it takes to keep the current team together. Mitch Lawrence of Forbes examines five possible landing spots for the Clippers forward.
- Knicks — Carmelo Anthony may be ready to leave New York and join his friend Paul in Los Angeles, where he already owns a home. Knicks president Phil Jackson could be interested in adding Griffin through a sign-and-trade deal for Anthony if both players are willing to consent to the move.
- Thunder — Griffin played college ball at Oklahoma, and the franchise needs a second star to pair with Russell Westbrook. The Thunder are nearly $12MM over the cap for next season, so they would have to be creative in opening space. Lawrence suggests letting Andre Roberson leave in free agency and finding a team willing to trade for Enes Kanter, who still has two years and about $36.5MM left on his contract.
- Nuggets — Cap room won’t be a problem in Denver, which will have about $40MM available if Danilo Gallinari opts out as he has indicated. The Nuggets have made trade offers for Griffin in the past, Lawrence writes, but never enough to tempt the Clippers. If a sign-and-trade is in play, Lawrence states that Denver would be willing to part with anyone except Nikola Jokic to make it work.
- Celtics — Boston has the cap space to make a max offer to Griffin and the assets to swing a deal. The Celtics have a wealth of future draft choices, including the potential No.1 pick this year and the Nets’ unprotected first-rounder next season. Even though Boston was the top seed in the East, the front office is searching for star players to build around.
- Pacers — Paul George‘s desire to play in L.A. has become an open secret around the league, and this could be the Clippers’ chance to land him before the Lakers do. George, who turns 27 this week, would be a new young star for the Clippers, while the Pacers could build around a formidable front line featuring Griffin and Myles Turner.
At age 26, Barton has blossomed into one of the league’s top sixth men, averaging 13.7 points per night and shooting 37% from 3-point range in 60 games this year. He will make a little more than $3.53MM in 2017/18 in the final season of a three-year contract.
The Nuggets expected Barton to test free agency and try to land a big contract in the prime of his career, Haynes adds.
The new collective bargaining agreement allows players on three-year deals to receive extensions starting on the second anniversary of the signing. Barton could have gotten a new deal starting at either 120% of his salary for 2017/18 or the average salary for next season, which is projected at about $9MM. Given 8% annual increases, Barton’s extension would have been valued at about $39MM over four years.
Haynes notes that Barton could be looking at much more, considering the contracts that were handed out to similar players last summer. The Trail Blazers matched a four-year, $75MM offer for Allen Crabbe and gave Evan Turner $70MM over four seasons. The Hawks re-signed Kent Bazemore for four years at $70MM. Barton has outscored each of them over the past two seasons.
When the procedure was announced by Nuggets personnel yesterday, we relayed that the rookie had been plagued by a sports hernia for much of the season.
The Kentucky product averaged 9.9 points per game for the Nuggets and played in all 82 contests, once taking Western Conference Rookie of the Month honors.
Murray is expected to return to basketball activities this summer and will be at full strength when the Nuggets open training camp.