Eric Bledsoe

Pacific Notes: Kings Lineup, DeRozan, Jackson, Bledsoe, Payton II

Kings coach Luke Walton is still tinkering with his starting lineup, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. The forward spots are up for grabs, with Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes and Marvin Bagley III as the top contenders, depending on whether Walton opts to go small or with a more conventional lineup. “I have not come to (a decision regarding Barnes) and there are still open spots,” Walton said. It could all be a moot point if the Kings renew efforts to acquire Ben Simmons.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • DeMar DeRozan had discussions with LeBron James about joining the Lakers in free agency, he confirmed to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). DeRozan wound up joining the Bulls in a sign-and-trade after Los Angeles opted to deal for Russell Westbrook. “It just didn’t work. You know how the business goes. … That was a hell of an opportunity that we tried to make happen,” said DeRozan, a Los Angeles native.
  • Clippers coach Tyronn Lue wants one of his veteran point guards to be on the floor at all times, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Lue will stagger the minutes of Reggie Jackson and Eric Bledsoe to make that happen.
  • The Warriors are hopeful Gary Payton II can play in a preseason game next week, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. Payton is working his way back from a hernia issue. Payton remains a contender for the team’s final roster spot. Payton will need to make the opening-night roster to receive a $659K partial guarantee on his $1.98MM contract.

Clippers Notes: Bledsoe, Winslow, Vaccinations, Drame

Eric Bledsoe hasn’t played for the Clippers since 2013, but the team is optimistic that the point guard will fit right back into Los Angeles’ rotation in 2021/22, writes Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. Head coach Tyronn Lue said on Tuesday that he expects Bledsoe to be part of L.A.’s starting lineup alongside Paul George, Marcus Morris, Reggie Jackson, and Ivica Zubac.

The last time Bledsoe was a Clipper, he was an up-and-comer who was stuck behind Chris Paul on the depth chart and was trying to prove he earned more playing time. He’ll have a larger role this time around, but the 11-year veteran told reporters he’s prepared to do whatever the club asks of him.

“I’m coming in as a veteran player now in a different role … just help the team out the best way I can,” Bledsoe said. “Whether guarding the best player one night, spot up next night, get downhill, whatever the case is, cheering my teammates on. So whatever the case may be, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Both Lue and Jackson spoke this week about how they envision the Clippers benefiting from Bledsoe’s ability to put pressure on the defense and attack the paint.

“He’s gonna be a big boost for us,” Lue said. “I think he’ll be able to push that pace and push that tempo, and get guys easy shots. That’s what we have to do in transition.”

Here’s more on the Clippers:

  • Bobby Marks of ESPN provides a minor update on Bledsoe’s contract, tweeting that the veteran guard and the Clippers agreed to push back his salary guarantee date for 2022/23. Bledsoe currently has a partial guarantee of $3.9MM on his $19.4MM salary for next season — his salary will now become fully guaranteed four days after the July moratorium instead of on June 30, creating some additional offseason flexibility for the franchise.
  • Health issues have limited Justise Winslow to just 37 total games over the last two seasons, but the new Clippers forward said on Tuesday that he has felt fully healthy for the last two or three months, tweets Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Winslow added that he wouldn’t wish his hip injury on anyone.
  • Lue said on Wednesday that all the players on the Clippers’ roster are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (video link via Greif).
  • The Clippers are mourning the death of Assane Drame, who joined the team in 2019 as a video intern and had since become a video assistant in the team’s digital content group. Drame died in a car accident on Monday night after working hours earlier at the team’s Media Day, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. We at Hoops Rumors send our condolences to Drame’s family and friends.

California Notes: Iguodala, Bledsoe, Metu, Longabardi

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr is excited to have veteran swingman Andre Iguodala back for his second stint with the club, writes Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.

“He means the world to us,” Kerr told Poole, echoing a sentiment he recently expressed to The Athletic. “The last two seasons, we’ve been somewhat rudderless in many ways. I suspect we’re going to get our rudder back with Andre.”

Iguodala signed a one-year, minimum-salary contract with Golden State after spending the last two seasons with the Grizzlies (for whom he never played) and Heat.

There’s more out of California:

  • The Clippers‘ reunion with point guard Eric Bledsoe received an A-minus grade from Kevin Pelton of ESPN. Bledsoe was re-acquired in a trade this week that sent point guards Patrick Beverley and Rajon Rondo and center Daniel Oturu to the Grizzlies. Pelton praised the cost savings of the deal, which will amount to a reduction of about $30MM off L.A.’s luxury tax bill. Pelton also notes that the younger, more durable Bledsoe could prove to be an on-court upgrade for the Clippers as well, though he struggled in recent playoff appearances with the Bucks.
  • Fourth-year Kings center Chimezie Metu has been suspended for one Summer League game after punching two-way rookie Mavericks forward Eugene Omoruyi in the head during the fourth quarter of an eventual 86-70 win Sunday, per an NBA press release (Twitter link). Metu will miss the Summer League title game on Tuesday against the Celtics.
  • The Kings will be hiring Mike Longabardi as a front-of-bench assistant coach, per Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link). Longabardi, most recently an assistant with the Wizards since 2019, won the 2008 title as a Celtics assistant and the 2016 championship as a Cavaliers assistant.

Grizzlies Trade Bledsoe To Clippers For Beverley, Rondo, Oturu

AUGUST 16: The Grizzlies and Clippers have put out press releases officially announcing the trade.


AUGUST 15: The Grizzlies and Clippers have agree to a trade that will send veteran point guard Eric Bledsoe back to Los Angeles in exchange for Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo, and Daniel Oturu, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Bledsoe, who began his NBA career with the Clippers back in 2010, was traded from New Orleans to Memphis earlier in the offseason as part of a salary-dump deal that also sent Steven Adams to the Grizzlies. A report at the time of the agreement indicated that Bledsoe was unlikely to remain in Memphis, though it was unclear if the plan was to trade him or buy him out.

This trade, a three-for-one swap, will help generate some roster flexibility for a Clippers team that had been carrying 16 players on fully guaranteed contracts. Los Angeles will now have 14 players on guaranteed deals, plus Yogi Ferrell on a non-guaranteed salary.

Swapping out Beverley ($14.32MM), Rondo ($8.25MM), and Oturu ($1.52MM) for Bledsoe ($18.13MM) will also save the Clippers some money on a tax bill that was projected to be worth $125MM. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter), that projection will dip to about $95MM.

The three outgoing players are all on expiring contracts, while Bledsoe is on a pseudo-expiring deal — his $19.38MM salary for 2022/23 is only partially guaranteed for $3.9MM. Because only Beverley and Oturu are required for salary-matching purposes, L.A. will generate a trade exception worth Rondo’s $8.25MM salary, Marks notes.

Although the Clippers will sacrifice a little depth in the trade, Bledsoe is a bounce-back candidate who could conceivably provide the club with some of the play-making and defense lost by moving Beverley and Rondo. Bledsoe had a down year with the Pelicans in 2020/21, but he averaged 5.5 assists per game during his time in Milwaukee from 2018-20 and earned All-Defensive nods in both seasons.

The Grizzlies, meanwhile, save a little 2022/23 money in the deal while taking on some extra salary for ’21/22. Memphis is now facing a roster crunch of its own, with 17 players on fully guaranteed contracts.

According to Wojnarowsi (Twitter link), the Grizzlies will be “open-minded” in weighing additional roster moves involving Beverley, Rondo, and/or Oturu and will likely consider flipping one or more of them in separate deals.

Memphis is already relatively deep at the point guard spot, with Tyus Jones backing up Ja Morant and De’Anthony Melton also capable of playing the position. As such, it’s hard to imagine both Beverley and Rondo starting the season with the club.

Because they’re on smaller expiring deals, Beverley and Rondo should be easier for the Grizzlies to move in subsequent trades than Bledsoe was. The move to turn one bigger contract into multiple smaller ones is somewhat reminiscent of a trade the team completed during the 2019 offseason, sending out Chandler Parsons‘ oversized expiring deal for Solomon Hill and Miles Plumlee, who were each earning about half of what Parsons was.

Southwest Notes: Z. Collins, Grizzlies, Doncic, Pelicans

Zach Collins‘ new three-year deal with the Spurs, reported to be worth $22MM, will technically come in at $22.05MM, but a significant chunk of the deal is non-guaranteed, reports ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

According to Marks, Collins will earn a fully guaranteed $7MM salary in 2021/22, but only half of his $7.35MM salary in ’22/23 is guaranteed and his $7.7MM cap hit for ’23/24 is fully non-guaranteed.

Collins, who has undergone multiple foot surgeries during the last two seasons and has been limited to 11 total games during that time, is assured of receiving at least $10.675M on his new contract. However, if he continues to battle health problems, the Spurs could cut ties as early as next summer without a major financial hit.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • In a look at the Grizzlies‘ roster situation, Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian notes that it remains unclear what the team’s plan is for Eric Bledsoe. When Memphis first agreed to its trade with New Orleans in July, a report indicated that Bledsoe likely wouldn’t play for the Grizzlies, but the veteran guard remains on the roster for the time being.
  • Appearing at Summer League in Las Vegas after returning from Slovenia, new Mavericks president of basketball operations Nico Harrison said the front office’s trip to Luka Doncic‘s home country was “bigger than just a big contract” and was about showing “respect” to the team’s franchise player. Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News has the story.
  • Exploring the NBA’s investigation into the Bulls’ and Heat’s sign-and-trade acquisitions of Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry, respectively, veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein suggests the Pelicans and Raptors may not face any penalties if last year’s Bogdan Bogdanovic case is any indication — Milwaukee was fined and docked a draft pick, but Sacramento wasn’t disciplined. While Stein may be right, I think the Pelicans have reason to be concerned. If the league’s focus is on sign-and-trade acquisitions completed suspiciously quickly, it’s worth noting that New Orleans received Garrett Temple via sign-and-trade as part of the Ball deal.

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.

More On Grizzlies/Pelicans Trade

The Grizzlies and Pelicans made a significant splash today, agreeing to the first trade of NBA draft week. As we previously relayed, Memphis will ship center Jonas Valanciunas and the Nos. 17 and 51 selections in the 2021 draft to New Orleans for center Steven Adams, guard Eric Bledsoe, the Nos. 10 and 40 picks, plus the Lakers’ top-10 protected 2022 first-round pick.

The top-10 protected 2022 Lakers pick will become two second-rounders if it doesn’t convey in next year’s draft, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. The protection was previously reported, but the two second-rounders element was not.

It appears that the Grizzlies may not be done dealing, as they look to continue to build their roster around promising point guard Ja Morant and intriguing big man Jaren Jackson Jr. Morant led the Grizzlies to their first playoff appearance since the 2016/17 season this year. Memphis fell 4-1 in the first round to the Jazz.

According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (Twitter link), the Grizzlies may be looking to move up even higher in the lottery ahead of Thursday’s draft. Memphis could be trying to add NBA G League Ignite forward Jonathan Kuminga or Connecticut guard James Bouknight, per O’Connor.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN adds (via Twitter) that the Grizzlies also auditioned Arkansas guard Moses Moody during a private Los Angeles work out last week, apparently expecting to move into the lottery even at the time. Givony adds (Twitter link) that Michigan forward Franz Wagner, projected to be selected as high as the No. 7 pick, could be a potential Grizzlies target. Adelaide point guard Josh Giddey is another apparent prospect for Memphis, as previously noted.

New Grizzlies guard Bledsoe, who had a down season during his lone year with the Pelicans, is not anticipated to remain in Memphis next season, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

It is not at present clear if Bledsoe, a two-time All-Defensive Team selection, will be traded or will be waived (and possibly stretched). The Grizzlies would most likely need to attach assets in any trade of Bledsoe.

Luke Adams contributed to this report.

Grizzlies, Pelicans Finalizing Deal To Swap Valanciunas, Adams, Bledsoe, Picks

The Grizzlies and Pelicans are finalizing a trade that will involve several players and draft picks, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

As Wojnarowski reports, the deal will send Jonas Valanciunas and the Nos. 17 and 51 picks to New Orleans in exchange for Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, the Nos. 10 and 40 picks, and the Lakers’ 2022 first-round pick. The Pelicans will add top-10 protection to that ’22 first-rounder, per Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report (Twitter link).

The trade, our second of the offseason and the first of draft week, is a fascinating move for two Southwest teams looking to make the playoffs in 2022.

The Pelicans had been considered highly likely to trade at least one of Adams or Bledsoe, both of whom are on pricey contracts and weren’t viewed as part of the team’s long-term future. Rather than just moving one of the two, they’ll send both to Memphis, creating significant cap flexibility for this year’s free agent period.

Bledsoe ($18.13MM) and Adams ($17.07MM) will earn a combined $35MM+ in 2021/22, while Valanciunas is on the books for just $14MM. Valanciunas is also entering a contract year, whereas Adams has one more guaranteed season left in ’22/23 and Bledsoe has a partial guarantee, so the Pelicans won’t just be opening up cap room this summer — they’ll create future flexibility as well.

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.

Moving Bledsoe’s contract also puts the Pelicans in position to either bring back restricted free agent Lonzo Ball or pursue another point guard in free agency. As Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets, New Orleans could create up to about $36MM in cap space by letting Ball and Josh Hart walk, or approximately $25MM in space by retaining Hart’s cap hold and letting go of Ball. Kyle Lowry is rumored to be among the Pelicans’ potential free agent targets.

As for the Grizzlies, they’ll presumably decline Justise Winslow‘s $13MM team option in order to create the cap room necessary to take on Adams and Bledsoe once the new league year begins in August, Marks notes (via Twitter).

While Adams and Bledsoe didn’t have great seasons in New Orleans, they’ve both been productive in the past and are bounce-back candidates in Memphis if the fit is better. Adams posted 7.6 PPG and 8.9 RPG in 58 games (27.7 MPG) in 2020/21, while Bledsoe put up 12.2 PPG, 3.8 APG, and 3.4 RPG on .421/.341/.687 shooting in 71 games (29.7 MPG).

The Grizzlies also significantly improve their draft assets in the swap, moving up seven spots in the first round and 11 spots in the second while also adding an extra first-round pick for next year. They’re now in position to have three first-rounders in next year’s draft, since they also hold Utah’s top-six protected first-rounder.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN and Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report (Twitter links) have both heard that Australian guard Josh Giddey is the player the Grizzlies are targeting with the No. 10 pick.

Draft Rumors: Thunder, Pistons, Rockets, Pelicans, Raptors, More

Armed with the Nos. 6, 16, and 18 picks in the first round of this year’s draft and a huge stash of future first-rounders, the Thunder are expected to start “knocking on the door” to try to move into the top three of the 2021 draft, Adrian Wojnarowski said on Sunday’s Woj & Lowe special on ESPN (video link).

In his latest mock draft, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link) confirms that the Thunder have been actively exploring the idea of trading up, with Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley among the prospects they’re said to be high on.

It would take a substantial package for the Thunder to move up into the top three from No. 6, and it remains to be seen whether they’re be willing to eat into their stockpile of draft assets to make such a move, especially if there’s a player they like outside of the top five. James Bouknight could be that player, according to Givony, who says Oklahoma City has “long been high” on the UConn guard, having inquired last year about the possibility of him entering the 2020 draft.

Here are several more draft-related rumors from ESPN’s reporters:

  • It’d be extremely surprising if the Pistons do anything with the No. 1 pick other than select Cade Cunningham, says Givony. Wojnarowski says that decision isn’t finalized yet, but the Pistons are “getting there” on Cunningham, and Woj expects the Oklahoma State guard to be the pick.
  • Jalen Green is increasingly likely to be the No. 2 pick, according to Givony, who writes that the Rockets have been “stonewalled” in their attempts to host Evan Mobley and Jalen Suggs for workouts.
  • The Kings‘ (No. 9) and Pelicans‘ (No. 10) picks continue to be among the most available lottery selections, per Givony. New Orleans is attaching Eric Bledsoe to the No. 10 pick in most trade discussions involving that selection, says Wojnarowski (video link). Givony adds that Franz Wagner has gained traction as a possible target for Sacramento if the club stays in the lottery, despite his “mysterious” pre-draft process — Wagner skipped the combine and hasn’t worked out for many teams.
  • While the Raptors are still widely expected to draft Jalen Suggs, they’ve taken long looks at other top-10 prospects, including Jonathan Kuminga, Scottie Barnes, James Bouknight, and Franz Wagner, says Givony. Wojnarowski and ESPN’s Zach Lowe (video link) expect Toronto to have several more conversations about either moving up or down from No. 4, but also view Suggs as the club’s likeliest choice.
  • The Cavaliers continue to be active in trade talks and are rumored to be discussing the possibility of acquiring a second top-10 pick, according to Givony. Wojnarowski (video link) is skeptical that Cleveland is looking to add more draft assets though, suggesting he doesn’t “see a scenario” in which the club trades Collin Sexton or Darius Garland to get even younger.
  • People around the league have “locked into the idea” that Scottie Barnes is the favorite to be picked at No. 5 by the Magic, reports Givony.

Southwest Notes: Kidd, Pelicans Draft Choices, Pelicans Roundup

New Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd joined ESPN’s The Jump on Wednesday to discuss his time with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, as well as what’s in store for his relationship with Luka Doncic in Dallas.

Asked about what he was focused on helping Doncic improve on, Kidd replied, “My job is to help make the game easier for him. Understanding the game within the game. Understanding how to get guys going, becoming a better leader.”

Kidd was also asked about Kristaps Porzingis. “Getting KP back to what he did in New York,” Kidd said. “Putting the ball on the floor, one dribble stop-and-pop… I remember a lotta highlights when he was putting the ball on someone’s head. So getting him back to that era in his basketball when he was having fun.”

We have more from around the Southwest Division:

  • In part one of his offseason mailbag, The Athletic’s Will Guillory explored some of the big questions of the Pelicans’ offseason. One such question regarded whether the disappointing seasons of Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams were more about personal decline or bad fit with the team’s stars. Guillory maintained that Adams, who had trouble fitting in, has been serious about adding a three-point shot to extend his career, and that he’s been “shooting the snot out of the ball,” according to a source. But he also warns that Bledsoe could face boos at home if he’s still on the roster next season.
  • Guillory also confirms that many believe Jacque Vaughn was the favorite for the Pelicans’ head coaching position before withdrawing, but that Willie Green won many in the front office over immediately upon his first meeting with them.
  • In a piece for NOLA.com, Pelicans beat writer Christian Clark breaks down five prospects the Pelicans are likely to consider with the 10th pick in the draft. Clark quotes executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin on the need to improve the roster construction: “We need to make the pieces fit a little bit better. I think you could all see that this was a rather wonky group at times.” Clark names Corey Kispert, Trey Murphy, Moses Moody and others, in a clear sign that wing shooting is going to be at a premium for New Orleans