Devonte' Graham

Pelicans Notes: Hart, Offseason Moves, Murphy, Summer League

Josh Hart‘s new three-year deal with the Pelicans includes some unique terms, according to ESPN’s Will Guillory and Bobby Marks (Twitter links). In an Instagram video, Marks provides a more in-depth breakdown of the agreement.

After earning a guaranteed $12MM salary in year one, Hart will have a $12.96MM non-guaranteed salary in year two, says Guillory. If the Pelicans want to avoid paying Hart that salary, they’ll have to waive him by June 25, meaning he’d get a head-start on finding a new team in free agency.

If Hart plays out the first two years of his deal, his $12.96MM salary for 2023/24 would be non-guaranteed as well, but he also has a player option for that third year. It would essentially be a mutual option for Hart and the Pelicans. He’d have until June 24 to decide whether to exercise or decline his player option, then – if he opts in – New Orleans would have until June 25 to decide whether to guarantee his salary.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • Scouts and executives polled by Tim Bontemps of ESPN were critical of the Pelicans’ offseason, questioning the team’s decision to replace Lonzo Ball with Devonte’ Graham. “They’re a sinking ship and reaching for a life preserver that just isn’t going to help,” one Western Conference executive said. “I don’t understand how (Jonas Valanciunas) is going to fit. I don’t understand how Devonte’ is worth what they paid. It’s just weird.”
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic loved what he saw from the Pelicans and Trey Murphy at Las Vegas Summer League, noting that he talked to two separate scouts who thought Murphy was the best rookie in Vegas. Vecenie referred to New Orleans’ Summer League team as “juggernaut” on the defensive end, singling out Murphy, Naji Marshall, Herb Jones, and Kira Lewis for their performances.
  • Murphy was one of seven players named to the All-Summer League First Team, per the NBA, as he joined co-MVPs Davion Mitchell and Cameron Thomas, among others.

Southwest Notes: Graham, Brooks, McDermott

The Pelicans’ newest point guard, Devonte’ Graham, is coming to New Orleans with an open mind, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com.

Graham has bounced between roles during his three years in the league, and he’s using that experience to stay flexible with his new team.

I do whatever is needed from the coaching staff,” Graham said. “You guys followed me with the Hornets. I started, I came off the bench. I played the one, I played the two. Whatever role they need from me, I’m going to do that to try to help the team win.”

The 26-year-old added that he’s already worked out with Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who is presumed to be penciled in as the starting shooting guard next to Graham when the season starts. Alexander-Walker had a breakout last season when he averaged 19 PPG, five RPG and three APG in 13 games as a starter towards the end of the season, including two 30-point outbursts.

We have more from around the Southwest Division:

  • Graham also reflected on his time with the Hornets, and holds no hard feelings for how the business side played out, writes Jonathan M. Alexander for The Charlotte Observer. “Their development program, the G League helped me a lot,” Graham said. “I just tried to get better at something every summer. One day it was threes, another day it was passing. I just tried to do something little every summer.”
  • Grizzlies starting shooting guard Dillon Brooks suffered a hand injury during an offseason workout, tweets Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com. Wallace adds that Brooks, who is currently in a brace, is expected to be ready for the start of training camp in September.
  • Doug McDermott calls joining the Spurs a dream come true, writes The San Antonio Express-News’ Tom Orsborn. “Growing up watching all those (Spurs) teams win championships, I always kind of modeled my game after being a guy in this type of system,” he said. The veteran wing is hoping that his off-ball movement can open up the floor for the Spurs’ many young guards to attack the rim.

Pelicans Officially Acquire Valanciunas, Graham In Three-Team Trade

The Pelicans have officially announced a pair of previouslyreported trades, having combined their acquisitions of center Jonas Valanciunas and point guard Devonte’ Graham into a single transaction involving both the Grizzlies and Hornets. Memphis and Charlotte have put out press releases as well.

The details of the three-team deal are as follows:

  • To Pelicans:
    • Valanciunas (from Grizzlies)
    • Graham (sign-and-trade; from Hornets)
    • The draft rights to Trey Murphy (No. 17 pick; from Grizzlies)
    • The draft rights to Brandon Boston (No. 51 pick; from Grizzlies)
      • Note: Boston will be rerouted to the Clippers in a subsequent trade.
  • To Grizzlies:
    • Eric Bledsoe (from Pelicans)
    • Steven Adams (from Pelicans)
    • The draft rights to Ziaire Williams (No. 10 pick; from Pelicans)
    • The draft rights to Jared Butler (No. 40 pick; from Pelicans)
      • Note: Butler will be rerouted to the Jazz in a subsequent trade.
    • The Lakers’ 2022 first-round pick (top-10 protected; from Pelicans)
  • To Hornets:
    • Wesley Iwundu (from Pelicans)
    • The Pelicans’ 2022 first-round pick (top-14 protected; from Pelicans)
      • Note: If the Pelicans’ 2022 first-rounder falls in the top 14, the Hornets will instead receive New Orleans’ 2022 and 2024 second-round picks, per Rod Boone of SI.com.
    • Cash (from Pelicans)
    • The draft rights to Tyler Harvey (from Grizzlies)

The details of the three-team trade essentially line up with what was previously reported, with two new pieces added — Iwundu going from New Orleans to Charlotte and Harvey’s draft rights going from Memphis to Charlotte. Harvey was presumably only included to ensure that the Grizzlies and Hornets were “touching,” since otherwise Memphis would only have been exchanging assets with the Pelicans.

Looping their sign-and-trade acquisition of Graham into the trade suggests the Pelicans will operate over the cap, using Bledsoe’s and Adams’ outgoing salaries in order to match both Valanciunas and Graham instead of signing Graham into cap space.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), it also allows New Orleans to generate a $17MM+ trade exception in the deal. Only Bledsoe’s and Iwundu’s outgoing salaries are needed for matching purposes to take on Valanciunas and Graham, meaning the Pelicans’ new TPE is worth Adams’ salary ($17,073,171).

Graham reportedly signed a four-year, $47MM contract with the Pelicans as part of the trade. He and Tomas Satoransky appear set to play the majority of the minutes at point guard in New Orleans, barring further roster changes. The team is sending Lonzo Ball to Chicago in a separate sign-and-trade deal.

Graham made just 37.7% of his field goal attempts in 2020/21, but his three-point mark was a very respectable 37.5%. In addition to his ability to make threes, Graham is an above-average play-maker (6.5 APG over the last two seasons) and a respectable defender.

Swapping out Adams for Valanciunas should allow the Pelicans to improve their frontcourt spacing. Valanciunas isn’t exactly a long-distance marksman, but has a solid mid-range game and will shoot the occasional three-pointer, which should create more room for Zion Williamson to operate. The former No. 5 overall pick averaged an impressive 17.1 PPG and 12.5 RPG with a .592/.368/.773 shooting line in 62 games (28.3 MPG) this past season.

From the Grizzlies’ perspective, the deal was a way to improve their draft assets in both 2021 and 2022 as a result of their willingness to take on Adams’ and Bledsoe’s pricey contracts. The team moved up from No. 17 to No. 10 to snag Williams, and later flipped the No. 40 pick (Butler) to Utah in a separate trade to move up to No. 30 for Santi Aldama.

[RELATED: 2021 NBA Offseason Trades]

The Hornets, meanwhile, decided to move on from Graham and got a protected first-round pick from New Orleans in exchange for waiving their right to match an offer sheet for the restricted free agent. Iwundu’s guaranteed $1.82MM salary for 2021/22 will eat up a small amount of Charlotte’s cap room, but the team will still have enough flexibility to complete its signing of Kelly Oubre to a two-year deal in the range of $12-13MM per year.

Pelicans To Acquire Devonte’ Graham Via Sign-And-Trade

The Pelicans are acquiring restricted free agent point guard Devonte’ Graham in a sign-and-trade deal with the Hornets, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Graham will be signing a four-year, $47MM contract with New Orleans, his agents Ty Sullivan and Austin Brown tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

According to Charania, Charlotte is getting a first-round pick back in the deal. Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter) that it’ll be the Pelicans’ own 2022 first-rounder, with top-14 protection.

Having approached free agency hoping to land a top-tier point guard such as Chris Paul or Kyle Lowry, the Pelicans were forced to pivot as those All-Stars committed to other teams. Instead, the team will end up with Tomas Satoransky (via the Lonzo Ball sign-and-trade with Chicago) and Graham, who emerged as a reliable start during the last two years in Charlotte.

Graham isn’t an especially efficient scorer, having made just 37.7% of his field goal attempts in 2020/21. However, that’s primarily a result of his struggles scoring inside the arc — his three-point mark was a very respectable 37.5%. In addition to his ability to make threes, Graham is an above-average play-maker (6.5 APG over the last two seasons) and a respectable defender.

Moving on from Graham shouldn’t be a major blow to the Hornets, since they still have a solid backcourt that features LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, and lottery pick James Bouknight. Charlotte could also now have an extra pick in the first round of the 2022 draft, and with Graham no longer on the books, the club will create a little extra cap flexibility in both the short- and long-term.

Fischer’s Latest: Bulls, Ball, Pelicans, Hornets, Lakers, Schröder, Knicks, More

While it’s possible the Bulls will sign restricted free agent point guard Lonzo Ball to an offer sheet in the four-year, $80MM range, doing so would be a risk, since the Pelicans could match that offer and leave Chicago empty-handed. According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, a possible three-team deal involving the Bulls, Pelicans, and Hornets could eliminate that risk and ensure Ball lands in Chicago.

The structure – which John Hollinger of The Athletic alluded to earlier today and which has seemingly gained traction, per Fischer – would see Ball going to the Bulls, Devonte’ Graham to the Pelicans, and Tomas Satoransky, Josh Hart, and draft assets to the Hornets.

Fischer cautions that this is only one idea in play and that things should become clearer once free agency opens. A sign-and-trade that only involves the Bulls and Pelicans – with Satoransky going to New Orleans – is also a possibility, he adds.

Here’s more from Fischer’s latest rumor roundup:

  • The Lakers haven’t given up on the possibility of acquiring Buddy Hield from the Kings, but they don’t appear to be working closely with Dennis Schröder‘s camp on a possible sign-and-trade arrangement, per Fischer.
  • The Knicks and Wizards are still considered possibilities for Schröder, according to Fischer. The veteran point guard is also believed to be one of the Bulls‘ targets if they can’t land Ball, Fischer notes, writing that Chicago has done its homework on DeMar DeRozan and Richaun Holmes as well.
  • The Knicks are widely believed to be a frontrunner to sign Evan Fournier, perhaps for a three-year deal worth about $18MM annually, Fischer reports. Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel are also strong candidates to re-sign with New York for deals worth about $10MM per year, Fischer adds.
  • Will Barton appears likely to return to the Nuggets, according to Fischer, who says a two-year, $32MM+ contract is a real possibility.
  • Cameron Payne is considered a good bet to re-sign with the Suns for a deal in the $6MM-per-year range, says Fischer.

Free Agent Rumors: Lowry, DeRozan, Knicks, Graham, Jackson, More

Now considered to be favorites to land Kyle Lowry in free agency, the Heat may try to bring in DeMar DeRozan as well, tweets Jordan Schultz of ESPN, confirming a series of reports from the last 24 hours.

Lowry and DeRozan were backcourt partners in Toronto for many years and have remained close friends. Miami is looking at a sign-and-trade as the best way to add Lowry, and is hoping that DeRozan might be available for the mid-level exception. That represents a big pay cut, but sources tell Schultz he might be interested if it means a chance to play alongside Lowry again.

If DeRozan turns down the MLE, the Heat will focus on finding a stretch four, says Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). There is support among the front office for Jeff Green, according to Jackson, who mentions Bobby Portis, Rudy Gay and Otto Porter as other options.

Meanwhile, Goran Dragic is expected to be part of a sign-and-trade with Toronto for Lowry, but the Raptors are unlikely to keep him. The Mavericks will be among the teams with interest in Dragic, according to Jackson (Twitter link).

Miami would also like to bring back reserve center Dewayne Dedmon, but he may get better offers, says Jackson (Twitter link). The Heat, who only hold Non-Bird rights on Dedmon, may have to offer part of their $3.6MM biannual exception to be competitive.

There’s more as the start of free agency draws closer:

  • The Knicks have some mutual interest with DeRozan, as well as Celtics shooting guard Evan Fournier, writes Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Begley also hears that Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky would be part of the potential return in a sign-and-trade if Chicago lands Pelicans RFA Lonzo Ball, while rival teams expect Duncan Robinson to re-sign with the Heat.
  • While he isn’t necessarily their Plan A or B, Cameron Payne is one of the free agent point guards on the Knicks‘ radar, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. New York has considered a Payne/Derrick Rose tandem at point guard for next season, Berman adds.
  • The Thunder are seen by rival executives as a possible suitor for Hornets guard Devonte’ Graham, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Graham is a restricted free agent, so Charlotte can match any offer, but Oklahoma City has the cap flexibility necessary to put pressure on the Hornets.
  • The Pelicans, Knicks, Celtics, and Nuggets are among the teams expected to express interest in point guard Reggie Jackson, per Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • EuroLeague standout Tyler Dorsey, who previously played for Atlanta and Memphis, is positioned for a return to the NBA and is drawing interest from several teams, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Free Agent Rumors: Dinwiddie, Ball, DeRozan, Pistons, Clippers

There are conflicting rumors on the possibility of the Wizards acquiring Spencer Dinwiddie via sign-and-trade, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who says that one source described that scenario as “pure vapor,” while another insisted that it’s real if the Nets can dump DeAndre Jordan‘s contract in the process.

As Hollinger points out, if the Wizards expand their Russell Westbrook trade with the Lakers to include Brooklyn, they could theoretically flip Kyle Kuzma to the Nets and acquire Dinwiddie via sign-and-trade while also taking on Jordan’s contract.

However, there are other scenarios in play for both Dinwiddie and the Wizards. Both Hollinger and Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report suggest that the idea of the Thunder signing Dinwiddie for a deal in the two-year, $40MM range has been floating around the league, and Fischer reiterates that Dinwiddie is a viable Plan B for the Pelicans if they miss out on Kyle Lowry.

Meanwhile, both Hollinger and Fischer say the Wizards are also believed to have interest in point guard Alex Caruso, whose market could be in the neighborhood of the full mid-level exception. Hollinger adds that there has been “some hum” about the possibility of Washington having interest in Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon.

Here are a few more rumors on some of this year’s top free agents:

  • Hollinger and Fischer identify the Bulls as the most likely team to sign Lonzo Ball to an offer sheet, likely in the four-year, $80-84MM range. However, Chicago would have to dump some salary to make room for such an offer sheet, and it’s unclear if the team is prepared to make those moves without being certain the Pelicans won’t match the offer, notes Hollinger.
  • The Celtics continue be mentioned as a possible Ball suitor, per Fischer and Sam Amick of The Atheltic. Amick also names the Mavericks as a possibility for Ball, while Hollinger dubs the Pacers a “dark horse” in the Ball sweepstakes, suggesting that a deal sending Malcolm Brogdon to the Pelicans could tempt New Orleans. Finally, Hollinger mentions an intriguing double sign-and-trade possibility that would send Lonzo to the Hornets to team up with his brother LaMelo Ball, with Devonte’ Graham going to the Pelicans.
    • Note: Hollinger has since amended this last item, suggesting that Lonzo and Graham could be involved in a double-sign-and-trade, but that Ball would likely be rerouted to a team besides Charlotte in that scenario.
  • The idea of DeMar DeRozan signing with the Heat for their mid-level exception has been a hot rumor lately, according to Hollinger. However, Fischer says DeRozan is also said to have interest from the Knicks, Pistons, and Mavericks, while Amick indicates a return to the Spurs remains “very possible.”
  • According to both Hollinger and Fischer, Kelly Olynyk has been increasingly mentioned as a target for the Pistons, who also may re-sign Cory Joseph at a lesser rate after waiving him over the weekend.
  • Outside of bringing back Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers‘ top priorities in free agency are re-signing Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum, sources tell Amick.

Hornets Tender QO To Devonte’ Graham, Make Malik Monk UFA

The Hornets have made point guard Devonte’ Graham a restricted free agent by tendering him a qualifying offer, but won’t give shooting guard Malik Monk a QO, according to Rod Boone of SI.com (Twitter links).

Graham, the 34th overall pick in the 2018 draft, had a breakout season for Charlotte in 2019/20, when he averaged 18.2 PPG and 7.5 APG in 63 games. He saw his role dialed back a little this past season due to the emergence of fellow point guard LaMelo Ball, but was still a solid backcourt contributor for the Hornets, recording 14.8 PPG and 5.4 APG with a .375 3PT%.

Graham’s qualifying is worth approximately $4.7MM. While he could accept that one-year offer, it’s more likely that he’ll work out a more lucrative – and longer-term – agreement with the Hornets or another team. According to Boone, Charlotte considers Graham a part of the team’s core and is hopeful the two sides can work out a new deal.

The Hornets’ decision on Monk is the more interesting of the two. The former 11th overall pick struggled in his first three NBA seasons, making just 32.2% of his three-point attempts and serving a drug-related suspension in 2020. However, he emerged as a reliable role player in 2020/21, averaging 11.7 PPG on .434/.401/.819 shooting in 42 games (20.9 MPG).

With a crowded backcourt – one that now includes 11th overall pick James Bouknight – the Hornets opted against issuing Monk a $7MM+ qualifying offer, so he’ll be free to seek out a new home as an unrestricted free agent. Teams in need of shooting on the wing could give the former Kentucky standout a look this week.

The Hornets also didn’t tender a qualifying offer to two-way player Grant Riller, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who tweets that the team and player aren’t ruling out a new deal.

Knicks Notes: Lillard, Rose, Free Agents, Vildoza

The Knicks should be at the front of the line if the Trail Blazers decide to trade Damian Lillard, contends Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post. Lillard is one of the most popular Portland players ever and has been a fixture in the city since he was drafted in 2012. But he will turn 31 in July and could bring a huge collection of assets in return if the Blazers opt to rebuild.

Lillard is owed more than $127MM over the next three seasons and has a $48.8MM player option for 2024/25. He would provide an instant solution to New York’s long-running point guard problem and would bring some star power to the franchise. He’s still as explosive as ever as a scorer, averaging 28.8 points per game this season and shooting 39.1% from three-point range.

The Knicks have the assets to make a deal work, including five first-round picks over the next three years, Vaccaro adds. They also have young talent to offer, such as rookies Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley, second-year guard RJ Barrett and third-year center Mitchell Robinson.

There’s more from New York:

  • If Lillard isn’t available, the Knicks will pursue other options to upgrade their backcourt this summer, and Ian Begley of SNY.TV hears that Derrick Rose‘s performance after being acquired from the Pistons will affect their strategy. If they can re-sign Rose, the Knicks will be less likely to spend big on another veteran point guard and may turn to restricted free agents such as Devonte’ Graham, Lonzo Ball or Kendrick Nunn. New York talked to the Pelicans about a possible Ball trade before the March deadline, but there’s not a consensus on him among the front office, according to Begley.
  • With their playoff run over, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau met with newly signed guard Luca Vildoza on Thursday and watched him in a workout, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Former Knicks guard and current Timberwolves assistant coach Pablo Prigioni believes his fellow Argentinian has a bright NBA future. “(Vildoza is) really, really good,’’ Prigioni said. “I really like him. Very talented, got a great shot and knows how to pass. I’m really excited to see Luca next season with the Knicks. Tom’s going to like him.’
  • Thibodeau held a long meeting with his players on Thursday and decided to delay the traditional player evaluation conferences for about two weeks, Berman adds in a separate story. A source said Berman wants his players to unwind from the stress that COVID-19 brought to the season.

Injury Notes: Durant, Harden, Davis, Hornets

Nets forward Kevin Durant had his bad injury luck continue on Sunday, as he left the team’s loss to Miami after just four minutes due to a left thigh contusion, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn is expected to assess the injury further today to determine whether Durant will miss some time.

“He’s sore, but we don’t know how severe. We’ll see (Monday) how he wakes up and go from there. But right now nothing’s been determined,” Nets head coach Steve Nash said. “Honestly, I don’t know (if he’ll undergo an MRI or other testing) … I haven’t heard, but I imagine they’re going to assess him in the morning and see if a scan is necessary.”

Given the initial diagnosis, it seems unlikely that Durant’s injury is serious, but even so, it’s the latest setback in a season full of health issues for both the star forward and the Nets as a whole, and another hurdle in the team’s efforts to establish chemistry, writes Alex Schiffer of The Athletic. The former MVP has appeared in just 24 of Brooklyn’s 57 games.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA, including a note on another Brooklyn star:

  • While James Harden is accompanying the Nets on their current three-game road trip, it sounds like that’s more about making sure he’s working out around the time, as Nash explained on Saturday (link via Petter Botte of The New York Post). Harden won’t necessarily be ready to return to action during the road trip, which concludes on Wednesday in Tampa.
  • Lakers star Anthony Davis is expected to be back on the court soon, but it won’t happen on Monday, as the team has officially ruled him out for today’s game vs. Utah, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
  • The Hornets have been hit hard by the injury bug this month, but got a key player back on Sunday, when PJ Washington (right ankle sprain) returned and played 34 minutes in a win over Portland. As Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes, Devonte’ Graham (left quad contusion) didn’t play, but had been listed as questionable for that game, suggesting his return is close.