Eric Gordon

Harris Withdraws From Team USA This Summer

Add Tobias Harris‘ name to the growing list of USA Basketball players pulling out of consideration for this year’s FIBA World Cup. Harris, who re-signed with the Sixers for five years and $180MM this summer, has decided to focus on the upcoming NBA season, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets.

Anthony Davis, James Harden, Bradley Beal, CJ McCollum and Eric Gordon have also withdrawn from Team USA participation this summer, starting with training camp in Las Vegas early next month. Two other players, Damian Lillard and Kevin Love, are also undecided and will announce their decisions in the next few days, Joe Vardon of The Athletic reports.

Team USA will bring 12 players to the FIBA tournament. Among the players under consideration to replace the stars who have withdrawn, according to Vardon, include Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, D’Angelo Russell, Mike ConleyJosh Richardson, Thaddeus Young and Julius Randle. Select Team members could also be considered for the final 12-man roster, including Trae Young, Vardon adds. Top pick Zion Williamson has withdrawn from the Select Team this summer.

The original list of 20 invitees to the USA Basketball camp can be found here.

Gordon, McCollum Withdraw From U.S. World Cup Team

Two more potential Team USA players have decided not to participate in the 2019 World Cup. Rockets guard Eric Gordon is withdrawing from the team, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic, and Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum is joining him, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

With James Harden and Anthony Davis pulling out of the competition earlier this week, Team USA is now left with 16 players in training camp who will compete for 12 spots. The withdrawing players all said they want to focus on the upcoming season rather than the tournament, which will be held in China from August 31 to September 15. NBA training camps open in late September.

One of those remaining players, Kyle Lowry, had a surgical procedure on his thumb this week, and may not be physically ready to participate. His potential absence, plus the withdrawal of the four stars, should create more opportunity for members of the select team, who will be scrimmaging with the 16 players left in camp.

The players will gather for camp from August 5-8, and exhibition games will follow later in the month.

Canada’s World Cup team also lost an NBA player this week when Tristan Thompson elected not to participate, Charania tweets. In addition, Ben Simmons confirmed that he won’t be taking the court for Australia.

Latest On Rockets’ Pursuit Of Jimmy Butler

With the Rockets hoping to sell Jimmy Butler and the Sixers on agreeing to a sign-and-trade scenario that would send the standout wing to Houston, the Rockets are offering Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, and P.J. Tucker to teams with cap room, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

As Wojnarowski explains, Capela, Gordon, and Tucker are being offered individually to potential trade partners, as the Rockets search for the best first-round pick they can get for one of those players. The idea would be to redirect that pick to Philadelphia in a potential sign-and-trade for Butler, Woj adds.

Despite the Rockets’ efforts, the Sixers have privately been expressing confidence that they’ll be able to re-sign both Butler and Tobias Harris in free agency, Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter). Philadelphia holds both players’ Bird rights, giving the club the ability to offer more years and more money to each player than any other team will be able to.

While losing Butler won’t be the Sixers’ first choice, there’s reason to believe they might be amenable to working out a sign-and-trade if he decides to leave. If the Rockets were to offer, say, Gordon or Tucker along with a first-round pick, the Sixers could acquire a potential starter on an affordable contract along with another asset for a future deal, and would still have cap room left over. That might be preferable to losing Butler for nothing, especially if the 76ers don’t have other specific free agent targets lined up for their cap space.

The Rockets will face many obstacles en route to acquiring Butler though. They’d almost certainly to have to bring in a third team in order to meet salary-matching requirements, and would risk losing all three of Capela, Gordon, and Tucker to make a deal happen (due in part to a subsequent hard cap).

Rockets To Pursue Sign-And-Trade For Jimmy Butler

The Rockets‘ top priority this offseason will be to recruit Jimmy Butler via sign-and-trade to Houston, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com.

The Rockets are unlikely to carve out enough cap room to sign Butler outright, so a sign-and-trade is the most feasible option to bring the four-time All-Star to Texas, as Wojnarowski details. In that scenario, Philadelphia would receive players back as opposed to losing Butler for nothing had he signed with a team with cap room.

Clint Capela and Eric Gordon would likely leave Houston in a potential sign-and-trade with a third team possibly getting involved due to Base Year Compensation rules, Woj writes. Of the two, Gordon would be the better fit for Philadelphia, particularly if the team believes J.J. Redick may depart in free agency.

We recently detailed some of the roadblocks standing in the way of a potential Butler acquisition by the Rockets after The Houston Chronicle first reported that the team would pursue the standout swingman.

[RELATED: Why NBA Sign-And-Trades Are Rare]

Butler could receive a four-year, max deal from Houston worth roughly $141MM. The Sixers plan to be aggressive in their attempts to retain Butler and the franchise could offer him the full five-year, $190M max deal at the start of free agency to trump any rival offer.

Houston previously pursued Butler when he was in Minnesota. The franchise reportedly offered four first-round picks in exchange for the wing.

Rockets Expected To Pursue Jimmy Butler

The Rockets came up short in their pursuit of Jimmy Butler during the 2018/19 season when the standout forward was on the trade block, despite reportedly offering a package that featured four first-round picks. With Butler on track to reach free agency this summer, the Rockets are expected to once again aggressively go after the 29-year-old, according to Brian T. Smith of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter links), who reports that Butler’s name will be atop Houston’s offseason wish list.

As Smith explains, the Rockets consider Butler an ideal fit on both ends of the court, viewing him as a piece that could push the team over the hump in the Western Conference. Per Smith, Houston’s ideal scenario would be to add Butler to its James Harden/Chris Paul pairing, despite rumors of significant discord between the two guards.

Smith’s report lines up with recent comments made by general manager Daryl Morey, who talked about the possibility of adding a third star to the Rockets’ roster this offseason.

Although the Rockets would love to add Butler and the Houston native may have interest in joining his hometown team, the club’s salary cap situation will make it difficult — especially since Butler has talked about expecting to sign a maximum-salary contract, which would start at about $32.7MM.

There’s no realistic way for the Rockets to create the cap room necessary to sign Butler to anything close to the max, so that’s likely not an option. That leaves two other potential pathways — a sign-and-trade or an opt-in-and-trade.

A sign-and-trade would require the Sixers to be on board, which means the Rockets would have to send some appealing assets Philadelphia’s way, including perhaps shooting guard Eric Gordon. Even then, salary-matching would be difficult and might require a third team to trade for Clint Capela or another Rocket. Houston would also be hard-capped in that scenario, significantly limiting the club’s flexibility.

[RELATED: Why NBA Sign-And-Trades Are Rare]

If Butler were to exercise his $19.84MM player option for 2019/20 instead of opting out as planned, it’d create a much cleaner path to a deal. The two teams could then negotiate a straight trade, like the Rockets and Clippers did two years ago when Paul wanted to play in Houston, though as with a sign-and-trade, the Sixers would have to sign off.

Additionally, Butler would presumably be reluctant to give up a longer-term, maximum-salary deal this summer unless he has assurances that such a deal would be waiting for him from the Rockets in 2020. That’s essentially what happened with Paul in 2017 — his payday was delayed until 2018, but there was never any doubt Houston would give it to him.

Of course, owner Tilman Fertitta has reportedly complained since day one about the team’s long-term investment in CP3, so it’s not clear if the club would be willing to make a similar wink-and-nod commitment to Butler.

The idea of the Rockets acquiring Butler still looks like a long shot at this point, but Morey has creatively completed deals in the past, and will certainly explore every avenue he can to do so again this time around.

Rockets Plan To Keep Spending, Add Another Top Player

The Rockets are planning to keep their starting five intact and will attempt to “add a third star or a top mid-level player to our core,” GM Daryl Morey said in an ESPN Radio interview on Monday.

Reports surfaced late last month after the Rockets were eliminated by the Warriors during the conference semifinals that Morey had made available everyone on his roster with the possible exception of James Harden. Morey declared on the Golic & Wingo show that he plans to keep the core group of Harden, Chris Paul, Clint Capela, P.J. Tucker and Eric Gordon intact while adding another impact player to the mix.

Morey says he’s been given the green light from owner Tilman Fertitta to upgrade the roster, despite major luxury tax issues. The salaries next season for the above five players alone add up to approximately $115MM.

He also believes that with significant injuries to Warriors’ stars Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson and despite the pending trade of Anthony Davis to the Lakers, the Rockets should be considered the Western Conference’s premier team.

“We feel like we should be the favorite in the West, and we’re going to do moves to show people that we should be the favorite in the West, and that’s going to create a little tension when we do that,” Morey said. “But at the end of the day, we’re going to have at least our starting five back, which again most teams are scrambling to keep it together and we’re going to spend mid-level, we’re going to spend into the tax. We’re going to be one of the most expensive rosters, like we were last year and this year, and we’re going to be right there.”

Morey also addressed a few other issues:

  • He downplayed any disconnect between his superstar guards. An in-depth story from ESPN’s Tim MacMahon detailed the turmoil within the organization, including the tension between their two best players due to the differences in their preferred playing styles and personalities. “Two competitive superstars at that level, there’s going to be times when they are extremely competitive, extremely focused on how do we get to that next level, and when we don’t there’s going to be frustration,” Morey said.
  • He expressed optimism that the organization will reach a contract extension agreement with coach Mike D’Antoni, who is entering the final year of his deal. D’Antoni’s agent indicated a week ago that there was a lack of progress. “He’s going to be our coach next year. We’re hoping to work things out for the future right now; if we don’t, we’re going to work it out after next season,” Morey said.
  • He insisted that Paul had not asked for a trade, though his contract would be tough to move anyway. Paul has three years and approximately $124MM remaining on his deal, which includes a player option in the final season.

Team USA Announces 20-Player Camp Roster For World Cup

USA Basketball has officially announced the group of 20 players that will participate in training camp this summer in advance of the 2019 FIBA World Cup. The camp will take place from August 5-9, and will be used to select the 12-man roster for this year’s World Cup in China.

The 20-man training camp roster is as follows:

  1. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  2. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  3. Anthony Davis (Pelicans)
  4. Andre Drummond (Pistons)
  5. Eric Gordon (Rockets)
  6. James Harden (Rockets)
  7. Tobias Harris (Sixers / FA)
  8. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  9. Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers)
  10. Brook Lopez (Bucks / FA)
  11. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  12. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  13. CJ McCollum (Trail Blazers)
  14. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  15. Paul Millsap (Nuggets)
  16. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  17. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  18. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  19. P.J. Tucker (Rockets)
  20. Kemba Walker (Hornets / FA)

“I am excited about getting to training camp in August and working with all of the players that have been selected to attend the USA National Team training camp in Las Vegas,” Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich said in a statement. “We’ve got an excellent cross-section of veteran USA Basketball and NBA players, as well as some exciting younger players who possess amazing versatility.

“I’m appreciative of commitment that our National Team players continue to make, and the eagerness of the new players to become involved,” Popovich continued. “Selecting a 12-man team will be extremely difficult.”

It will be an eventful summer for many of the players on the 20-man Team USA training camp roster. Besides Harris, Lopez, and Walker, who are all headed for unrestricted free agency and could be on new teams by August, players like Barnes, Middleton, and Millsap could reach the open market if their player or team options are declined. Others – including Davis, Gordon, Kuzma, Tatum, and Tucker – have been mentioned in trade rumors.

Kuzma and Mitchell are the only players on the roster who haven’t played internationally for Team USA in the past. Five player on the roster (Barnes, Davis, Harden, Love, and Lowry) have won gold medals for USA Basketball at the 2012 or 2016 Olympics, while two others (Drummond and Gordon) have taken home gold at previous World Cups.

Previous reports indicated that Zion Williamson, John Collins, and Marvin Bagley are expected to be among the players named to a 10-man select team that will scrimmage with Team USA’s 20-man roster at the training camp in August.

More Names Revealed For Team USA World Cup Tryouts

Team USA’s training camp roster for the FIBA World Cup will be announced next week, but four players have already been confirmed, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Anthony Davis, James Harden, Donovan Mitchell and Kemba Walker will definitely be part of the team, while the other 14 slots are still being worked out. The roster will be trimmed to 12 when the players gather in Las Vegas in early August to prepare for the tournament, which takes place from August 31 to September 15 in China.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski drops a few more names in a full story on the World Cup tryouts, which sources tell him are also expected to include Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Bradley Beal and Kevin Love. Others planning to be part of the camp include Eric Gordon, Jayson Tatum, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, LaMarcus Aldridge, Andre Drummond and Kyle Kuzma.

P.J. Tucker will attend training camp as well, tweets ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, and league sources tell Woj that Paul Millsap also plans to be there. Other names leaked for the camp are Tobias Harris (Twitter link from Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer) and Myles Turner (Twitter link from Scott Agness of the Athletic).

Zion Williamson, expected to be the first pick in the draft later this month, has been invited to camp as part of the 10-man select team that will scrimmage against the 18-man roster, Stein tweets. Williamson will be given a chance to play his way onto the final roster if he has a standout performance in that role, according to USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo (Twitter link).

The select team will also include John Collins and Marvin Bagley, tweets Tim Bomtemps of ESPN.

The camp will be held from August 5-8, with exhibition games to follow before the start of World Cup play. Gregg Popovich will serve as head coach.

P.J. Tucker Interested In Contract Extension

P.J. Tucker would “love” to discuss a contract extension with the Rockets this offseason, two people close to the veteran forward tell Kelly Iko of The Athletic. While it’s not clear if the Rockets are ready to get something done with two years still remaining on Tucker’s deal, both sides have talked about his long-term future, Iko writes.

As we detailed earlier today, Tucker appears to be very much available in trade talks, so it remains to be seen whether he’ll even be in Houston by the time the 2019/20 season gets underway. However, Iko says the Rockets would like to have Tucker retire with the team and perhaps even take on a role with the franchise after his playing days are over. A Tucker trade would elicit “strong disapproval” from James Harden and head coach Mike D’Antoni, Iko adds.

Although Tucker turned 34 years old last month, he continued to play a crucial role for the Rockets in 2018/19, starting all 82 games for the club and averaging 38.7 MPG in 11 playoff contests. His ability to knock down threes on offense (.377 3PT%), along with his versatility on the defensive end, makes him one of the club’s most valuable players.

He’s also on a team-friendly contract that runs through the 2020/21 season. That deal will pay him $8.35MM in 2019/20 before dipping to $7.97MM in its final year. That ’20/21 salary is also only partially guaranteed for about $2.57MM, per Basketball Insiders’ data.

While it’s hard to imagine the Rockets tacking too many more years onto Tucker’s contract (assuming they retain him), extending his deal by one or two seasons and guaranteeing his ’20/21 salary could make sense. The over-38 rule would complicate an extension longer than two years.

Eric Gordon will be another candidate for an extension if he remains on the Rockets’ roster, Iko notes. Gordon and Tucker will both become extension-eligible in July.

Stein’s Latest: Capela, Gordon, Tucker, Lakers, Wolves, Grizzlies

When ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported last week that the Rockets were making virtually everyone on their roster besides James Harden available in trade talks, it was presented as general manager Daryl Morey doing his due diligence and being open to all options. Morey and owner Tilman Fertitta later praised Houston’s starting five and predicted it would return intact next season.

In his latest newsletter, however, Marc Stein of The New York Times paints a different picture. According to Stein, the Rockets are “actively” exploring the trade market for possible deals involving Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, and/or P.J. Tucker. One source with knowledge of the club’s thinking tells Stein that Houston is operating as if at least one of those three players won’t be on the roster next season.

Gordon, who has one year and $14MM left on his contract, and Tucker, who has about $16MM+ left over two years, may be easier for the Rockets to move than Capela, since they’re veterans capable of fitting in anywhere and wouldn’t require a long-term salary commitment. However, Capela’s four years of team control may appeal to a club that’s looking for an answer at center and hoping to avoid overpaying a free agent.

As we wait to see what Morey has up his sleeve, here are a few more minor items from Stein:

  • While the amount of years and money the Lakers were willing to offer Tyronn Lue contributed to negotiations breaking down, a disagreement over his staff was also a factor. According to Stein, general manager Rob Pelinka and advisor Kurt Rambis wanted to be able to select Lue’s assistants.
  • The Timberwolves are taking a similar approach under new head of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, according to Stein, who notes that Rosas brought back Ryan Saunders but dismissed his entire staff. Stein writes that Saunders wanted to hire Sidney Lowe as his lead assistant, but was rebuffed by management.
  • The Grizzlies, the only team still seeking a new head coach, are believed to be considering a new bench model. Memphis wants to have at least one of its assistant coaches hold a dual title that includes some personnel responsibilities, says Stein.