Derrick Jones

Bulls Notes: Markkanen, Porter, Boylen, White

Bulls power forward Lauri Markkanen was unhappy with the direction of the offense under coach Jim Boylen and his role in it, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. Markkanen’s frustration had reached a point where he’d rather be dealt if organization changes weren’t made, Cowley continues. It’s possible the new front office executive — the Bulls are lining up interviews with candidates — could look to trade Markkanen if they feel the relationship is beyond repair, Cowley adds.

We have more on the Bulls:

  • Within that same story, Cowley writes that the Bulls are keeping a close eye on the Heat. In addition to seeking an interview with Miami’s assistant GM Adam Simon, Chicago has also considered emulating the Heat’s front office structure, and has done homework on free agents like Goran Dragic and Derrick Jones.
  • Otto Porter Jr. will likely be in a lame duck situation as the team’s small forward next season, Cowley writes in a separate story. Porter will surely exercise his $28.5MM option for next season after an injury-plagued campaign and his salary will come off the books just in time for the much-anticipated 2021 free-agent class. Boylen has even hinted he might have Porter come off the bench next season.
  • Boylen’s future with the organization will be determined by the lead executive the Bulls hire, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reports. Boylen has the support of COO Michael Reinsdorf and executive VP John Paxson but a desire of the new executive to hire his own coach wouldn’t be a deal-breaker, Johnson continues, confirming one of his earlier stories. While Reinsdorf has been handling the search, Paxson has been a driving force on the need for change and a more modern front office, Johnson adds.
  • The team’s ceiling for next season with its current group is a low-end playoff seed unless 2019 lottery pick Coby White develops rapidly, Kevin Pelton of ESPN opines. White needs to emerge as a knockdown shooter, something he flashed late in the season.  It’s unlikely the new executive will pursue an extension with Markkanen, but if he bounces back and breaks out, the Bulls can still benefit by utilizing his “relatively modest” $20.2MM cap hold as he enters restricted free agency, Pelton adds.

NBA Plans To Launch Players-Only 2K Tournament

12:07pm: The Boardroom has provided a full list of the 16 participants in the tournament, along with the first-round matchups (Twitter link). Devin Booker (Suns), Trae Young (Hawks), and Zach LaVine (Bulls) are among the other stars set to take part in the event.

11:19am: With no NBA games expected to happen on the court anytime soon, the league is setting up a virtual tournament in an attempt to sate fans’ appetite for basketball, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

According to Haynes, the league intends to launch an NBA 2K tournament that will feature NBA players competing against one another. The goal is to begin the 10-day event this Friday, though the league is still working out and finalizing the details, sources tell Haynes. The tournament would be broadcast on ESPN.

Nets star Kevin Durant, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, Cavaliers center Andre Drummond, and free agent big man DeMarcus Cousins are among the 16 players expected to participate, per Haynes.

Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel had previously tweeted that Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside and Heat swingman Derrick Jones were among the players set to play in an NBA 2K20 Players Tournament in April. That info appears to be based on an announcement from the NBPA, which was quickly deleted. Jeff Garcia of Spurs Zone (via Twitter) shares the full list of participants the NBPA identified in that premature release.

According to Winderman, the tournament is expected to have a $100K prize for charity.

Southeast Notes: Fournier, Heat, Capela, Hawks

Due to his player option for the 2020/21 season, Evan Fournier will be eligible to become a free agent as early as this offseason, and a possible next contract for him will be one of the toughest decisions facing the Magic, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic.

As Robbins notes, Fournier is one of the Magic’s top scorers — his 18.8 PPG in 2019/20 represented a career high and his .599 TS% was easily the team’s best mark. However, “many higher-ups” don’t think he’d be a top-three offensive option on a contending team, according to Robbins, who adds that some opposing scouts and executives believe Fournier would be better suited as a bench scorer on a championship-caliber club.

Robbins also points out that the Magic had a more effective offense and a 4-0 record in games Fournier missed this season, though that could be viewed as a small-sample anomaly. Still, it will be among the many factors the team figures to consider as it weighs whether to add another pricey, multiyear deal to its books. Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross are on long-term contracts and Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac will be up for extensions before long.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel doesn’t expect the Heat to add another veteran – such as Jamal Crawford – for depth purposes if and when the 2019/20 season resumes. Winderman also explores Derrick Jones‘ free agent value, suggesting it remains unclear whether Miami will be willing to invest in him on a mid-level-type multiyear contract or if the team prefers to retain more cap flexibility.
  • In a mailbag for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sarah K. Spencer provides an injury update on Clint Capela, writing that the big man had been participating in half-court workouts before practices were shut down. If the season had played out normally, Spencer notes, there’s a chance Capela wouldn’t have returned at all or would have been on a strict minutes limit. If it ends up resuming in the summer, his odds of making his Hawks debut this season figure to increase.
  • Chris Kirschner and John Hollinger of The Athletic teamed up for a two-part look at the Hawks‘ future, exploring whether the team made positive strides in 2019/20 and what its outlook is going forward.

Southeast Notes: Herro, Butler, Hawks, Jones Jr.

Heat guard Tyler Herro initially feared he might be done for the regular season when he injured his foot, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets. Herro, who suffered the injury on February 3, might be able to take off the protective boot sometime this week, Chiang adds. The 13th pick in last June’s draft, Herro is averaging 13.1 PPG and shooting 39.3% from deep.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Jimmy Butler‘s personality hasn’t changed but he has helped, rather than hurt, the Heat’s team chemistry, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald details. Guard Goran Dragic says the franchise’s culture made Butler fit seamlessly into the locker room. “They push you here. Jimmy is the same,” he said. “If you’re not used to it, it can [be] like, ‘I don’t like him.’ But this is the perfect situation for us and Jimmy. He just wants you and the team to get better.”
  • The Hawks will be looking to accelerate their rebuild during this offseason, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic writes in his latest mailbag. They will likely look to add younger veterans instead of acquiring bad contracts as they did last offseason, Kirschner continues. Davis Bertans, Joe Harris, Gordon Hayward, Evan Fournier and Maurice Harkless are potential targets, Kirschner adds.
  • Re-signing Derrick Jones Jr. and Dragic will likely be at the top of the Heat’s priority list this offseason, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel opines. Negotiations will Jones could be tricky, since Miami wants to protect its cap space for the summer of 2021, when the free agent market could be robust. At his young age, Jones will probably be looking for a long-term contract, Winderman adds.

Latest On The Dunk Contest Controversy

The judges at Saturday’s dunk contest intended for the event to end in a tie, but their plan failed when three of them awarded nines on Aaron Gordon‘s final jam, according to Malika Andrews and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

After Derrick Jones Jr. and Gordon both received 50s on their first dunks in the dunk-off, Jones finished his night with a running slam from just inside the foul line that received a 48. Gordon sought to clinch the trophy in dramatic fashion by jumping over 7’5″ Celtics rookie Tacko Fall, but after a long wait the judges awarded him three nines and two 10s for a final score of 47.

“We thought it was going to be tied. We were like, ‘This is a tie!'” said hip-hop artist Common, who served as one of the judges. “But somebody didn’t do it right. I don’t know who it is.”

A second judge, Candace Parker, confirmed Common’s comments, saying the intent was for the dunk-off to end in a tie, which would have meant a poll of the judges to determine a winner.

“I really felt it was an even battle, and we, as judges, felt the scores should be even and they should just have a judge-off,” Common said after a breath-taking series of dunks from both competitors. “We had the cards. Put your card up for who had the best dunks.”

Gordon started the event with perfect scores on his first five dunks. He expected a sixth after dunking over Fall, and he and the crowd at the United Center in Chicago were visibly dismayed when the final results left him a point behind Jones. It was a familiar experience for Gordon, who also lost the 2016 dunk contest to Zach LaVine in a controversial decision.

“We’re here to do four dunks,” Gordon told reporters afterward. “It should be the best of four dunks. I did four straight 50s — five straight 50s. That’s over. It’s a wrap. Let’s go home. Four 50s in a row in an NBA dunk contest, it’s over. But I don’t know. Who’s running the show?”

There’s more on the wild finish to All-Star Saturday Night:

  • Despite the controversy, Jones believes he was the rightful winner and was unhappy with the score he received on his final dunk, relays Andre Fernandez of The Athletic“When I got that 48, it was tough because that was a dunk that I was doing since high school,” Jones said. “I know that’s 50-worthy. There’s no way I should have gotten a 48.”
  • Jones also said he could have kept dunking as long as the contest remained tied (video link from Ben Golliver of The Washington Post). “I just turned 23,” said Jones, who had a birthday cake wheeled onto the court before his first dunk. “I’ve got legs for days, bro.”
  • Fall tells Shelburne that his role in Gordon’s final dunk wasn’t pre-arranged (Twitter link). After a night that saw several dunks over other people, Gordon picked out the tallest man in the building. “I was scared for my life,” Fall admitted.
  • Dwyane Wade, one of the three judges who gave Gordon a nine on his final attempt, denied that the score was a favor to Jones, his former Heat teammate. “I wasn’t the only one who gave him a 9, let’s talk about that!” Wade said in a video tweeted by Complex Sports.
  • Several commentators suggested that the controversy may affect the league’s ability to get elite dunkers in future competitions. After watching the event, Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant, who many wanted to see participate this year, tweeted, “Y’all just made my decision easier,” then later sent out a video of American Idol judge Randy Jackson saying, “Yeah, it’s a no from me dawg.”
  • Dwight Howard offered a tribute to Kobe Bryant with his second dunk, taking off his shirt to reveal a Superman jersey underneath, then taking away the S logo to to show a number 24. He told Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times that Bryant had agreed to be part of the dunk before his tragic death last month (Twitter link).

Poll: Who Will Win 2020 Slam Dunk Contest?

Bulls guard Zach LaVine, a two-time Slam Dunk Contest winner, flirted with the idea of taking part in this year’s event in his home arena. However, after suggesting that he’d only participate if he was named to the All-Star team, LaVine has stuck to that stance. That means fans in Chicago this weekend won’t get the opportunity to see a rematch of the 2016 final, which pitted LaVine against Aaron Gordon in perhaps the most memorable Dunk Contest of the decade.

Gordon will participate though, and he’ll be one of the most experienced dunkers on the court this Saturday night. Besides finishing as the runner-up to LaVine in 2016, Gordon also took part in 2017’s contest. Having fallen short twice before, the Magic forward is confident the third time will be the charm, telling Josh Robbins of The Athletic, “I’m gonna win.”

However, it’s Dwight Howard – not Gordon – who has the most Dunk Contest experience of any of this year’s participants. This will be Howard’s fourth time taking part in the event, and he even has a win under his belt.

That win came in 2008 though, and the Lakers center hasn’t participated in a Dunk Contest since 2009, more than a decade ago. A win this year for the 34-year-old Howard would be unprecedented in an event that’s typically a young man’s game. Dominique Wilkins, who had just turned 30 when he won 1990’s contest, is the oldest all-time winner. The second-oldest? Nate Robinson, who was 26 when he beat Howard in 2009.

If you believe that youth will win out in 2020, you’ll have to consider Bucks wing Pat Connaughton an underdog as well. The 27-year-old will be participating in his first NBA Dunk Contest, and is flying under the radar as Saturday’s festivities near — something he says is just fine with him.

No one’s worried about me and hopefully Saturday night they’ll be like, ‘Damn, I should have been worried about him,'” Connaughton said this week, per Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The fourth contestant this year will be Heat swingman Derrick Jones Jr., who will also be celebrating his birthday on Saturday, as he turns 23. Jones finished as the runner-up to Glenn Robinson III in 2017’s event and will likely have some new tricks up his sleeve this time around.

What do you think? Will Howard defy the odds and win his second Dunk Contest? Will Gordon or Jones get over the hump after placing second in past competitions? Will the first-time Connaughton make a name for himself with a win on Saturday?

Vote below our poll, then head to the comment section to share your thoughts!

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Heat Notes: Hill, Injuries, Iguodala, Jones, Adebayo

When the Heat made their seven-player deadline trade with Memphis and Minnesota last week, it was clear the team acquired Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder with an eye toward working them into the rotation. However, Solomon Hill‘s outlook was murkier. The veteran forward, who is in the final season of a four-year contract, looked like a potential buyout candidate, but he says he hasn’t approached the club about that possibility and doesn’t intend to, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

“That hasn’t come across in discussions; I definitely want to be here,” Hill said. “This is an amazing place and winning culture. When you talk about winning, this is the definition of winning. To be in an organization like this and guys like this, this is a chance not only to try to force my way into some minutes but learn as much as I can.”

Hill has been active for the Heat’s last three games but hasn’t yet played a single minute for the team. Still, that doesn’t mean he’s not in head coach Erik Spoelstra‘s plans going forward, as Jackson relays.

“We really like him,” Spoelstra said. “I don’t want these last (three) games to be an indication of what his role will be. I’m not going to figure out that role for the foreseeable future. That’s not fair right now for the team. He’s a detailed defender, has size and quickness to guard multiple positions. He really has improved his shooting. Someone who fits with our style of play. He’s on my mind. He’s the next guy in line. He needs to stay ready.”

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Within that same Herald article, Jackson suggested that Tyler Herro (ankle) seems closer to a return than Meyers Leonard (ankle), and noted that Andre Iguodala agreed to his new contract extension without even talking to Spoelstra or Heat president Pat Riley. “I pretty much knew, had a good feel for the team,” Iguodala said. “Playing against them in the playoffs, playing against them in the Eastern Conference and kind of seeing the scope of their organization, you pretty much know what it is.”
  • Besides opening up cap room for the coming summer and improving their 2021 flexibility, the Heat’s trade last week also created a clearer path to locking up Derrick Jones Jr. beyond this season, as Jackson explains in a separate Miami Herald story.
  • ESPN’s Zach Lowe takes a fascinating, in-depth look at Bam Adebayo‘s road to the NBA and to his first All-Star nod. Lowe shares some entertaining stories about Adebayo’s first workouts for NBA teams, the impression he made on Miami leading up to the 2017 draft, and how his hunch that he’d be selected by the Hornets fell by the wayside when Charlotte traded for Dwight Howard two days before the draft.

Andre Iguodala Still Elite In Riley’s Mind

Heat president Pat Riley isn’t worried about Andre Iguodala‘s age or the fact the veteran forward hasn’t played this season, as he told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald and other reporters. In fact, Riley took a different spin on Iguodala sitting out while waiting for the Grizzlies to trade him to a contender. Miami acquired Iguodala from Memphis in a deadline deal.

“He’s an elite defender, an elite team defender; an elite assist-to-turnover percentage. You don’t lose that in seven months,” Riley said. “Probably a blessing in disguise he didn’t play in seven months. He’s in shape. He’s definitely going to have to get his basketball legs under him. As long as he’s healthy he can play.”

Riley also touched on a number of other subjects:

  • He was unwilling to give Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari a guaranteed 2021/22 contract extension, which prevented a trade for the OKC forward. That supports an ESPN report earlier today. Miami wanted to protect its projected cap space for the summer of 2021, when several high-level players are expected to hit the free agent market. “I wanted everything. But I wasn’t going to … compromise a two-year plan,” Riley said, adding “I like Gallo. I think he would have fit in really well. “
  • Trading Justise Winslow to Memphis in a three-team deal that also included Minnesota was the hard part for Riley. Winslow has been injured most of the season. “I know he’s missed 150 games during 4 ½ years with us,” Riley said. “We’re going to miss him. The Memphis Grizzlies got a great young player.”
  • No decision has been made on whether to offer Derrick Jones Jr. a contract this offseason. Jones becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. “I like the fact he’s improved his three-point shooting,” Riley said. “Like the fact he’s become a better, more consistent defender. When that time comes we have a decision to make.”
  • The Heat will scour the buyout market for a rim protector, per Riley: “We will keep our eyes out. We are happy part of this transaction gives us the possibility of a buyout player later on.”

Heat Notes: Gallinari, Olynyk, Jones, Iguodala

For a few hours on Thursday, it looked as if the Heat would end up adding not just Andre Iguodala but Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari as well. However, Oklahoma City ultimately ended up not getting involved in the deal with Miami and Memphis that saw Iguodala, Jae Crowder, and Solomon Hill land with the Heat.

Like they did with Iguodala, the Heat were trying to complete an extend-and-trade deal for Gallinari, but the team’s desire to keep its 2021/22 cap sheet as clear as possible complicated those extensions talks. If the Heat had been willing to do an extension that was guaranteed through 2022, ESPN’s Zach Lowe believes they likely would’ve been able to acquire Gallinari without surrendering any of their key young players.

According to Lowe, talks between Miami and Oklahoma City focused on draft compensation. The Thunder already own the Heat’s top-14 protected 2023 first-round pick and wanted the protections lifted on that selection so that Miami could also trade its 2025 first-rounder to OKC.

As Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald explains (via Twitter), the Heat also probably could’ve acquired Gallinari without extending him, but they felt as if the risk of just renting the veteran forward for three months wouldn’t be worth the draft capital it would require.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • There was a belief that Crowder and Hill would be re-routed to the Thunder along with draft picks if Gallinari was involved in that Heat/Grizzlies swap. However, that may not have been the only scenario in play — David Aldridge of The Athletic hears from sources that Miami was also willing to discuss Kelly Olynyk and Derrick Jones in potential trades.
  • Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights provides some new info on Iguodala’s extension with the Heat, tweeting that the two-year, $30MM deal – which is worth a flat $15MM per year with a team option on year two – features a 7.5% trade kicker. If he’s dealt, that bonus would only apply to Iguodala’s non-option year, unless the option is exercised before the trade.
  • The Heat have newfound flexibility for the summer of 2020 after moving James Johnson and Dion Waiters. Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald explores possible paths Miami could take during the offseason, while cap expert Albert Nahmad of HeatHoops.com takes a more in-depth look at the financial situation facing the team as it considers its options for the next two summers.
  • Count head coach Erik Spoelstra among those impressed with what president Pat Riley has done to revamp the Heat’s roster over the last year, as Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today details. “He’s one of the great visionaries of this Association, and it never ceases to amaze me how he continues to reinvent and think differently,” Spoelstra said of Riley. “That’s what visionaries do. They think way bigger and much differently than we do.”

Heat Notes: Winslow, Silva, Johnson, Adebayo

Justise Winslow is expected to see a back specialist this week after leaving the Heat during their current road trip, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Winslow missed 15 straight games with a lower-back bruise before playing 16 minutes Wednesday in Indiana. However, he didn’t play last night and was already ruled out of tomorrow’s game.

“It didn’t respond the way we would have liked, so we’re going to take a step back,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But certainly we don’t feel comfortable.”

Injuries have limited Winslow to just 11 games in his first season after signing a three-year, $39MM extension. He is averaging 11.3 PPG, but shooting just 38.8% from the field. Most of his minutes have gone to Derrick Jones Jr.

There’s more from Miami:

  • Expect the Heat to convert Chris Silva‘s two-way contract into a multi-year deal this week, a source tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Silva is running out of NBA days on his current contract, and Tuesday is the first day that Miami can accommodate another player on a standard deal under its hard cap restrictions. The team may offer a contract three years or longer so it will have Bird rights on Silva, just as it did with Kendrick Nunn. Wednesday is the last day this season that players can be signed to two-way contracts, so the Heat will have to act quickly to lock up Silva’s replacement.
  • Team president Pat Riley took a positive tone in a recent meeting with James Johnson and Dion Waiters, Jackson writes in a separate story. Riley was hoping to point both players in a better direction after Johnson failed to meet conditioning standards in training camp and Waiters racked up three early-season suspensions. “It was just the three of us,” Johnson said. “It was heartfelt, all encouragement. He’s got our back. That meeting was one of our new leaf-turners. It was an eye opener but also a relief.” A source tells Jackson that the Heat have decided not to risk a battle with the players union by attempting to void Waiters’ contract.
  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich provided some motivation with his message to Bam Adebayo when he was cut from the U.S. World Cup team this summer, Jackson relays in another piece. “He said I wasn’t ready,” Adebayo said. “Everybody has their opinions, so I guess it was his opinion I wasn’t ready.” A strong candidate for an All-Star berth, Adebayo will face Popovich and the Spurs on Wednesday.