Derrick Jones

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Bogdanovic, Green, Nuggets

The Trail Blazers were aggressive about seeking out roster upgrades this offseason, trading for Robert Covington and Enes Kanter while signing Derrick Jones in free agency and bringing back Rodney Hood on a new deal.

According to Jason Quick of The Athletic, a push from Damian Lillard provided president of basketball operations Neil Olshey with some extra motivation as he completed those transactions. Lillard said he’s been “transparent” with Olshey about wanting the team to make roster moves that give the Trail Blazers a “real shot” at winning a title.

“That’s just what I’ve been communicating to him: ‘Come on man, let’s really make a run for it. Let’s go for it,'” the Trail Blazers’ star point guard said. “Let’s not be the organization that says, ‘Oh, we’ve made the playoffs this many years in a row. We’ve got a good culture, we’ve got this …’ Let’s put ourselves out there and try to do whatever we can do to give ourselves a real shot. Let’s try to bring the glory back to Portland.”

Covington and Jones will likely open the regular season as the Trail Blazers’ starting forwards, head coach Terry Stotts said on Tuesday, per Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com. That would mean Carmelo Anthony coming off the bench, which is something the team discussed with him before he re-signed.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic, who is coming off of wrist surgery, said on Tuesday that he’s “really happy” with where he’s at in his recovery process, though he admitted he’s not sure whether or not he’ll be ready for the start of the season. Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune has the details.
  • The Clippers, Lakers, Spurs, Sixers, and Bucks were among the teams that had interest in JaMychal Green in free agency, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post, but the veteran forward ultimately chose the Nuggets. Green cited the Nuggets’ unselfish play, young talent, and tenacity in explaining his decision. “Blowing a 3-1 lead, they just fought,” Green said, referring to Denver’s Western Conference Semifinals win over his Clippers. “It just showed you the type of heart they had.”
  • The Nuggets experienced more roster turnover than usual this fall. Now, facing an unorthodox training camp and preseason schedule, head coach Michael Malone says it’ll be a challenge to get everyone integrated and comfortable before the regular season begins. “Continuity has been one of our greatest strengths for the last few years, and this is probably the first time in my five going on six years we’ve had this much of a turnover,” Malone said, according to Kendra Andrews of The Athletic. “So that will be the biggest challenge.”

Blazers Notes: Jones, Carmelo, Covington, Elleby

Before he committed to the Trail Blazers, Derrick Jones had free agency meetings with the Kings and Timberwolves, as Jonathan Abrams of The New York Times details in an interesting blow-by-blow account of Jones’ night on November 20.

According to Abrams, Jones mostly listened and nodded during Sacramento’s eight-minute pitch, but was more engaged and asked questions on a call with Portland that lasted nearly an hour. Jones seemed ready to commit to the Blazers on the spot, but his agent Aaron Turner said they’d let the team know by the end of the night.

Jones was also impressed by the Timberwolves’ pitch that came next, but was still leaning toward Portland’s offer. The Blazers had said they’d be talking to other free agents over the course of the night and would sign the first one that called back to agree to their offer, so Jones had to make a fairly quick decision, Abrams writes.

After Turner called back the Wolves to see if they could increase their offer at all, he told them Jones would be signing elsewhere, and contacted the Blazers to accept their two-year offer worth the full mid-level.

“Getting a guy like Derrick — an elite athlete, protects the rim, great finisher, rates in the 80th percentile in blocks and steals — was a big win for us,” president of basketball operations Neil Olshey said of the signing this week, per Jason Quick of The Athletic.

Here’s more on the Blazers:

  • Before Carmelo Anthony agreed to re-sign with Portland, he and Olshey talked about his potential role, discussing the possibility that the 10-time All-Star could come off the bench this season. “Ideally, for him, he would still start. I think that’s where his mindset is — he’s never come off the bench,” Olshey told reporters this week, per Quick. “Obviously, that will be (coach Terry Stotts‘) call. But I think the conversation was, ‘Make the decision to come back based on the reality that you will likely come off the bench.'”
  • Olshey added that he believes it makes more sense to have Anthony as part of the second unit, since he can be a featured scorer off the bench, whereas newly-added forward Robert Covington doesn’t need the ball much, making him a “perfect complement” to Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
  • One of the Blazers’ top offseason goals was to find someone who can be their fourth-best player behind Lillard, McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic. As Quick writes, the Blazers believes Covington will be that player. “Now we know we have a fourth guy every night that can make a high enough impact that can give us a chance to win,” Olshey said.
  • Olshey expressed excitement about CJ Elleby, the No. 46 overall pick in the draft who has signed a guaranteed two-year, minimum-salary contract with the club. “I think he is a really good basketball player,” Olshey said, according to Quick. “I think we will all probably anticipate that this year will be an apprenticeship for him, but he will have a chance to compete every day with our younger players. He has a chance to have a very long career.”

Blazers Sign Derrick Jones To Two-Year Deal

NOVEMBER 22: The Trail Blazers have officially signed Jones, the team confirmed today in a press release.

“Derrick’s elite athleticism, defensive versatility and ability to rebound on both ends of the floor enable him to make an immediate impact in multiple areas of need,” president of basketball operations Neil Olshey said in a statement.


NOVEMBER 20: The Trail Blazers have reached an agreement with free agent wing Derrick Jones, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Charania reports that Jones will sign a two-year deal worth $19MM, which suggests Portland will use its mid-level exception to complete the deal.

The second year includes a player option, according to The Athletic’s David Aldridge (Twitter link). Jones is expected to back up Robert Covington, who is headed to Portland in a trade with Houston.

The Heat, who had a number of free agent decisions to make, opted not to offer mid-level money to Jones, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. Jones was interested in returning to Miami, Jackson adds.

Jones, 23, averaged 8.5 PPG, 3.9 RPG and 1.1 APG in 23.3 MPG during 59 regular-season appearances last season. He battled through a bout with COVID-19 prior to the restart. Jones appeared in 15 postseason games but had a diminished role.

Cavs Rumors: Thompson, Free Agents, Drummond, No. 5 Pick

The Cavaliers would like to re-sign Tristan Thompson at the right price, but so far, discussions between the two sides have “centered on a number lower than Thompson would want,” according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Thompson had an $18.5MM salary in 2019/20 and presumably won’t want to see that number decrease too significantly going forward. However, that may simply be the veteran’s reality now, Fedor writes.

As Fedor points out, John Hollinger of The Athletic and ESPN’s Brian Windhorst have both recently suggested that Thompson may be no more than a minimum-salary free agent. It sounds like the Cavs will offer him more than that, so the big man may have to decide whether he wants to stay in Cleveland at that higher number or compete for a title elsewhere on a more modest deal. He appears unlikely to get a sizeable offer from a contender, Fedor notes.

If Thompson doesn’t re-sign with the Cavaliers, the team will probably have to dedicate a portion of its mid-level exception to signing a center. Fedor identifies Harry Giles, Aron Baynes, Thon Maker, and Nerlens Noel as some free agents who could be possibilities for Cleveland.

Here’s more from Fedor on the Cavs:

  • Sources tell Fedor that the Cavaliers were hoping to pursue Jerami Grant in free agency, but now expect him to be out of their price range. The team still aims to add athletic, defensive-minded players — Derrick Jones, Maurice Harkless, Kris Dunn, and Pat Connaughton are a few of the potential targets singled out by Fedor.
  • If and when Andre Drummond officially opts in for 2020/21, it’s possible the Cavaliers will view him and his expiring contract as a potential trade chip. However, Fedor’s sources believe Cleveland would have a better chance of moving Drummond at the trade deadline rather than in the offseason, so it sounds like the veteran center will spend at least part of the season in Cleveland.
  • Multiple members of Cleveland’s front office like Tyrese Haliburton, but after using their previous two lottery picks on guards, the Cavs seem unlikely to opt for Haliburton over an “equally-talented” prospect who fills a greater need. Fedor believes Deni Avdija, Onyeka Okongwu, Isaac Okoro, and Obi Toppin are – in no particular order – the best bets to be the Cavs’ pick at No. 5.

And-Ones: Morris Twins, Expansion, J. Grant, Hampton

Almost exactly a year ago, the Morris twins – Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris – changed agencies, signing with Roc Nation Sports for representation. However, with the two veteran forwards on the verge of free agency, Roc Nation won’t be the agency repping them this fall.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter), the Morris twins have signed with agent Chafie Fields of Wasserman for representation. Fields is one of a small handful of agents who represents both NFL and NBA clients.

It’s not necessarily the best offseason to be reaching free agency, as few teams around the NBA will have cap room available, but the Morris twins should do pretty well on the open market. Marcus is coming off a productive season with the Knicks and Clippers, while Markieff played a role in helping the Lakers win a title last month.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • One sports business expert who spoke to Jabari Young of CNBC predicted that the NBA may revisit the idea of expansion in the coming years in an effort to offset the financial losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic. “Seattle and Las Vegas are by far the two most likely markets for various reasons,” said Patrick Rishe, the director of the sports business program at Washington University in St. Louis. “Today, if it was two teams, you’re talking over $1 billion that would be shared, and those two new expansion teams will not get their share of media revenues at the beginning.”
  • Using his new metric BORD$, John Hollinger of The Athletic evaluated the values of this year’s free agent small forwards and power forwards. Unsurprisingly, Brandon Ingram and Anthony Davis grade out as the top forwards. Derrick Jones, Jabari Parker, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are among the players rated highly by Hollinger’s formula, while Nuggets forward Jerami Grant is dubbed by Hollinger to be “probably the most overrated player” on this year’s free agent market.
  • In a conversation with Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, draft prospect RJ Hampton discussed spending last year in New Zealand, his preparation for the 2020 draft, and why he’s modeling his offensive game after Zach LaVine.

Heat Notes: Ramsey, Quickley, Draft, Crowder, More

Texas Tech guard Jahmi’us Ramsey and Kentucky guard Immanuel Quickley are among the prospects whom the Heat have reached out to about potential in-person workouts, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

The club only holds the No. 20 pick in this month’s draft, but is doing plenty of homework on the players who could be options in that range — Ramsey is the 35th prospect on ESPN’s big board, while Quickley – who has interviewed with Miami twice, per Jackson – ranks 42nd.

As Jackson details, the Heat have also “taken a look” at Washington forwards Jaden McDaniels and Isaiah Stewart, who are 23rd and 27th on ESPN’s board. Additionally, Miami has called to speak to Kentucky guard Ashton Hagans, who is ranked just 68th by ESPN. Hagans would likely only be an option for the Heat if they acquire a second-round pick or if he goes undrafted, Jackson notes.

The Heat were also expected to view group workouts for Minnesota big man Daniel Oturu (No. 37 on ESPN) and Arizona guard Nico Mannion (No. 25), writes Jackson. And as our JD Shaw reported on Monday, College of Charleston guard Grant Riller has interviewed with Miami as well.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Although Jae Crowder is a Georgia native, he has made Miami his adopted hometown, having prepared for the 2012 draft in South Florida and having bought a house in Miami in 2017. As Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel writes, Crowder’s fondness for both Miami and the Heat should put the team in a good position to re-sign him this fall, even if he doesn’t give the club an “adopted-hometown discount.”
  • While the Heat are accustomed to getting the most out of players who might not have thrived in other environments, Derrick Jones may be a candidate to become a more complete player and have more success with a new team if he departs in free agency, Winderman says in a Sun Sentinel mailbag.
  • Ultimate Software, the company that has an advertisement patch on Heat uniforms, has merged with The Kronos Group to form the Ultimate Kronos Group, resulting in a new jersey patch for the Heat. Darren Rovell of The Action Network (Twitter link) has the details.

Pacific Notes: Handy, Clippers, Suns, Warriors

Despite some rumors linking him to Brooklyn in recent weeks, Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy suggested this week in a conversation with Jason Dumas of KRON4 News (Twitter link) that he intends to remain with the 2020 NBA champs.

“I am a Los Angeles Laker. What’s next for me is waiting for (Lakers head coach) Frank Vogel to pick up the phone and… give me what my next directives are,” Handy said.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • New Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue is apparently strongly considering former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson and current Heat assistant Dan Craig as additions for his bench, per Marc Stein of the New York Times (Twitter link). Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times tweets that Atkinson, renowned for his ability to develop young players, could be a fit considering that owner Steve Ballmer is hoping his new coaching staff does just that.
  • Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic assesses the prospects of a 2020/21 Suns squad if the team essentially maintains its 2019/20 roster and rely on internal player growth. Backup center Aron Baynes is the only rotation player entering unrestricted free agency this offseason.
  • As the Warriors look to build at the edges of their roster, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area takes a look at two potential swingman bench fits: sharpshooting Bucks guard Pat Connaughton and hyper-athletic Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr.

Pistons, Bulls Among Potential Suitors For Derrick Jones

The Pistons and Bulls are among the teams expected to have interest in free agent Heat swingman Derrick Jones this offseason, a source tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Jackson also identifies Atlanta as a potential suitor for Jones, which is something we’ve heard before. Shams Charania reported last week that Jones is expected to receive interest from the Hawks, Cavaliers, and Hornets, among other clubs.

Jones is coming off a season in which he averaged 8.5 PPG and 3.9 RPG in 59 games (23.3 MPG) for the eventual Eastern Conference champions. He’s also a strong perimeter defender, having held the opponents he guarded in 2019/20 to a field goal percentage of just 40.8%, according to Jackson.

Jones fell out of Miami’s rotation during the postseason, but Jackson explains that a number of factors played a part in that decision. Health was a big one, as Jones contracted COVID-19 in June, suffered a neck injury in a scary fall during the seeding games, then sprained his ankle in the first round of the playoffs. Erik Spoelstra‘s decision to ride veterans Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala as he shortened his rotation also helped push Jones out of the mix.

The Heat’s top priorities in free agency this fall figure to be re-signing Crowder and Goran Dragic to new deals, and it’s possible Jones’ role reduction in the playoffs will dampen his enthusiasm for a reunion with the club. If that’s the case, he should have plenty of options, as Charania’s and Jackson’s report suggest. His next contract seems unlikely to exceed the mid-level, so over-the-cap teams will be in play.

While I expect Jones to generate interest from some playoff teams, it’s probably not a coincidence that all of his reported suitors so far are younger clubs coming off lottery seasons. At age 23, the former UNLV standout projects to be one of the NBA’s youngest unrestricted free agents this offseason, and he’ll likely have a better chance of playing a regular role on a roster that’s not loaded with veterans.

Northwest Notes: Conley, D. Jones, Anthony, Thunder

Jazz guard Mike Conley isn’t expected to exercise an early termination option on his $34.5MM salary for next season, but Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune suggests that he and the team could both benefit if he did. Walden notes that Conley could opt out and sign a new deal that would give him similar money in the long term while offering Utah some immediate cap flexibility.

If Conley plays out his current deal, he will be a 33-year-old unrestricted free agent next offseason and Walden estimates he can expect three-year offers in the $35MM to $40MM range. The Jazz could combine that with his current deal by offering $70MM to $75MM over four years.

That takes away any worry of an injury that could reduce Conley’s value and it cuts his 2020/21 cap figure in half, bringing it down to about $17-$19MM. That could allow Utah to use Bird Rights to re-sign Jordan Clarkson and add players with its mid-level and biannual exceptions without going into tax territory.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Adding free agent forward Derrick Jones Jr. is an easy way for the Trail Blazers to improve their defense, writes Jason Quick of The Athletic. Jones is only 23 and has proven to be an excellent defender who can block shots and switch on pick and rolls. Several teams will likely have their eyes on him, so Quick believes Portland should be willing to offer its entire mid-level exception of roughly $9MM if that’s what it takes to land him.
  • Carmelo Anthony is looking at a reduced role on a healthier Trail Blazers team next season and will probably search for a better opportunity in free agency, Quick adds in the same piece. Anthony saw a lot of minutes before the hiatus at power forward in place of Zach Collins, who was recovering from shoulder surgery. In Orlando, he filled in at small forward for Trevor Ariza, who opted out of the restart. They’re both expected to be in training camp, along with Rodney Hood, who suffered a torn Achilles tendon last December.
  • Joe Musatto of The Oklahoman evaluates potential Thunder coaches Darvin Ham and Wes Unseld Jr. in a pair of stories.

Heat Rumors: Adebayo, Giannis, Jones, Dragic, Crowder

The expectation heading into the 2020 offseason is that the Heat will prefer to wait on a new deal for Bam Adebayo, since signing him to a maximum-salary extension would cut into the team’s available cap room for 2021. Miami could maximize that space by keeping Adebayo’s more modest RFA cap hold on the books for 2021, then eventually going over the cap to re-sign him.

Adebayo could get the same max contract whether he signs it this offseason or waits until 2021, but if he’d rather lock it in sooner rather than later, it might become an awkward situation for the Heat, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. In Jackson’s view, Miami actually may have had more leverage to ask Adebayo to wait when there was a perception that the team needed another star to become championship contenders. After this year’s Finals appearance, that argument is more tenuous.

The Heat’s plan is to go “all-in” for Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021 if the Bucks star reaches free agency, per Shams Charania of The Athletic. If Antetokounmpo agrees to an extension with Milwaukee before then, the Heat may not feel as compelled to hold onto their ’21 cap room, which would lessen the need to wait on Adebayo’s next contract.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Unrestricted free agent wing Derrick Jones is expected to receive interest from the Cavaliers, Hornets, and Hawks, among others, sources tell Charania. At just 23 years old, Jones is an unusually young UFA and still has room to develop, which explains why several rebuilding teams will likely kick the tires.
  • There’s mutual interest in a new deal between Goran Dragic and the Heat, according to Charania, who says the veteran point guard will have multiple suitors.
  • If the Heat are only willing to offer one-year contracts this offseason, Dragic and Jae Crowder may have to decide whether they prefer to remain in Miami or seek longer-term security, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. “I’m going to obviously give it thought on both sides — having security and my comfort with this organization,” Crowder told Winderman. “So, hopefully, it all comes together from both sides. And that’s what I really want to do.”
  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald examines how the Heat could theoretically re-sign Dragic and Crowder to lucrative one-year contracts while also adding a quality player with the mid-level exception — and staying out of tax territory.