Frank Kaminsky

Hornets Notes: Porter, Walker, Kaminsky, Howard

Michael Porter Jr. could be a risk worth taking for the Hornets if he lasts to the 11th pick, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Porter was among the top recruits in college basketball last year, but a back injury sidelined him for almost the entire season. He underwent surgery to remove a piece of bone that was placing pressure on a nerve and has declared himself to be healthy.

Porter has drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant, standing 6’10” with the skills of a small forward. If enough teams are scared off by his medical history, Porter could present new GM Mitch Kupchak with his first major draft decision since coming to Charlotte.

There’s more from Charlotte:

  • The Hornets might be willing to ship Kemba Walker to Cleveland in a deal involving the No. 8 pick, but LeBron James‘ uncertain status makes the trade problematic, Bonnell notes in the same story. Dealing Walker, who has one year left on his contract, for a draft choice would help ease Charlotte’s cap situation, but the Cavaliers won’t know until July if James is leaving. The eighth pick becomes extremely valuable if Cleveland is facing a rebuilding project.
  • Frank Kaminsky hasn’t done enough in three seasons to convince the Hornets he’s worthy of a long-term investment, Bonnell adds. The ninth pick in the 2015 draft has averaged 10.0 points per game since joining the team, and there are concerns about his rebounding and passing. Bonnell believes Charlotte wouldn’t hesitate to draft another power forward.
  • Dwight Howard could be a buyout candidate if he’s still on the roster in February, Bonnell writes in a mailbag column. The veteran center will make more than $23.8MM in the final year of his contract.
  • In the same piece, Bonnell puts the odds at 50-50 for free agents Michael Carter-Williams and Treveon Graham to return to the Hornets next season. An abundance of guaranteed contracts for wing players will limit Graham’s opportunity, while Carter-Williams is coming off an injury-plagued season in which he shot a career-low 33% from the field.

Kyler’s Latest: Jordan, Gasol, Bazemore, Hornets

The NBA trade deadline is just over seven weeks away, so it’s only a matter of time before teams start discussing potential deals a little more earnestly. In anticipation of trade talks heating up, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders takes a closer look at a handful of players whose names figure to come up frequently in trade rumors in the coming weeks, passing along the latest nuggets of info on each of those guys. Here are a few highlights from Kyler’s piece:

  • Source close to the situation tell Kyler that a Cavaliers offer for DeAndre Jordan would be built around Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, and a first-round pick, though Cleveland is only willing to discuss its own pick at this point, rather than the Nets’ first-rounder. It remains to be seen whether the Clippers will be willing to move Jordan, but the big man’s future in L.A. is “anything but clear,” writes Kyler.
  • More and more people around the NBA believe that the Grizzlies would be willing to explore the market for Marc Gasol, but it may require Gasol telling them he wants out, per Kyler.
  • League sources tell Kyler that the Hawks might be open to moving Kent Bazemore for the right combination of expiring contracts and a first-round pick. Even if that pick is “highly protected,” as Kyler suggests, I’d be very surprised if any team is willing to pay that price for Bazemore, who is owed $18MM+ in 2018/19 and $19MM+ in 2019/20.
  • The prevailing belief around the league is that the Hornets would like to move one of their big contracts, such as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist‘s. However, Charlotte would likely need to attach a young player to a deal in order to dump salary. Kyler suggests Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon likely aren’t going anywhere, identifying Frank Kaminsky as a possible name to watch.
  • The Magic and Kings are also worth keeping an eye on, according to Kyler, who identifies Nikola Vucevic and George Hill as a pair of potential trade candidates. Orlando isn’t looking to shake things up for the sake of it, but Vucevic figures to draw interest. As for Hill, his significant cap hit limits his trade value, but he’d probably “welcome a move,” says Kyler.

Cody Zeller To Undergo Surgery, Miss Six Weeks

Hornets center Cody Zeller will undergo surgery to repair torn meniscus in his left knee on Tuesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets, citing league sources. Zeller is expected to miss six weeks, Wojnarowski adds.

Zeller injured the knee last week against the Warriors. Zeller was relegated a second-unit role this season with the addition of Dwight Howard but had been productive, averaging 7.2 PPG and 5.5 RPG. In his absence, Frank Kaminsky and Johnny O’Bryant will likely share minutes behind Howard. Kaminsky has missed two games with an ankle sprain but is expected to play Monday.

Zeller, 25, has long-term security but it remains to be seen whether the knee injury will have a lingering effect. He’s making $12.6MM this season and his contract runs through the 2020/21 season.

If the Hornets want to add a big man, they could sign a free agent to a pro-rated, non-guaranteed minimum deal and remain below the luxury tax line, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. The Hornets have a roster spot open and are $1.8MM below the tax line, Marks notes.

Hornets Exercise Option On Frank Kaminsky

The Hornets have exercised the fourth-year option on Frank Kaminsky‘s rookie contract, the team announced in a press release. The 24-year-old big man will remain with the squad through the 2018/19 campaign.

Over the course of his first two seasons with the franchise, Kaminsky has established himself as a solid inside-out threat and important component of the team’s second unit.

In 75 games with the squad last year, Kaminsky averaged 11.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, adding 1.6 made threes per contest to boot. Those figures are likely to rise in 2017/18, his scoring average north of 14 over the course of the first five games of his third season.

Kaminsky, the ninth-overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft will earn $3.6MM next year.

Southeast Notes: Simmons, Bledsoe, Kaminsky, Morris

Jonathon Simmons played his first game against the Spurs since he signed a three-year deal in free agency to join the Magic. Simmons had a productive night, posting 17 points in Orlando’s 114-87 blowout win over San Antonio. Despite the loss, Simmons’ former teammates are happy for him, Tim Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News writes.

LaMarcus Aldridge called Simmons “a good guy” and said his former teammate is “comfortable” in his new role. Magic coach Frank Vogel spoke glowingly of Simmons the impact he has on the court.

“When we put the ball in his hands, typically he makes good things happen,” Vogel said. “He’s a good decision maker, a threat going to the basket. He really attacks the rim and will get finish and get to the free-throw line. But he does a good job making the pass, too. So I have a lot of trust in him. He’s earned it.”

Check out other news tidbits around the Southeast Division below:

Hornets Notes: Monk, Lamb, Batum, Howard

The Hornets’ choices for backup point guards were influenced by the drafting of Malik Monk in the first round, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. In a mailbag column, Bonnell states that because Monk is an undersized shooting guard with defensive limitations, the team needed larger point guards to pair with him who are better at stopping opponents. That’s why they signed Michael Carter-Williams and Julyan Stone, both 6’6″, when other options were available.

Another factor was cost, as Charlotte was concerned about staying under the luxury tax threshold of about $119MM and was financially limited after trading for Dwight Howard‘s $23.5MM salary. Carter-Williams agreed to a one-year, $2.7MM deal in July, while Stone accepted a minimum-salary contract in August after negotiating a release from his team in Italy.

Bonnell offers more insight into the Hornets:

  • Monk should be fully recovered from a sprained left ankle that caused him to miss the Orlando Summer League. The 11th overall pick suffered the injury during a draft workout and was sidelined for several weeks, which coach Steve Clifford said affected his conditioning. Monk probably won’t see a lot of playing time early in the season, Bonnell writes, but he should be fully healthy for the team’s October 18 opener.
  • Jeremy Lamb has impressed the coaching staff with his work this offseason, but he’s not a threat to take Nicolas Batum‘s starting job. Lamb has been a valuable reserve during his two seasons in Charlotte, and Bonnell says the team needs Batum’s playmaking skills and overall versatility in the starting lineup.
  • The roles of the big men haven’t been firmly established heading into camp. Howard is expected to start at center with Marvin Williams at power forward, but Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky could both make a push for more playing time. Howard’s reputation as a poor free throw shooter could limit his fourth quarter minutes, just as it did in Atlanta, with Zeller getting more use late in games.

Hornets Exercise Option On Frank Kaminsky

The Hornets have exercised their third-year option on Frank Kaminsky, tweets Adi Joseph of The Sporting News. After Saturday’s game, Charlotte GM Rich Cho delivered the news to Kaminsky in the locker room in the form of a letter.

A 23-year-old center out of Wisconsin, Kaminsky appeared in 81 games for the Hornets during his rookie season. He averaged 7.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per night and shot 34% from 3-point range.

Kaminsky, who is making $2.73MM this season, will see his salary increased to $2,847,600 for 2017/18. The Hornets have now taken care of all their rookie-scale option decisions for this season.

Eastern Notes: Bayless, Kelly, Young

Jerryd Bayless was penciled in as the Sixers‘ opening night starter at point guard, but he’ll be in street clothes for at least the first month of the season while he recovers from a torn ligament in his left wrist, team sources told Jeff Goodman of The team announced last week that Bayless would not have surgery on his wrist, but did not put a timetable on his return to action, Goodman notes. Bayless signed a three-year deal with Philly this summer after averaging 10.4 points and 3.1 assists with Milwaukee in 2015/16.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Hornets forward Frank Kaminsky is out of the walking boot he was required to wear after straining his right foot during Charlotte’s final preseason contest on Friday, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes. His status for the team’s regular season opener is still undetermined, Bonnell adds. “He said he felt a lot better,” coach Steve Clifford said of Kaminsky. “He did a ton [of rehabilitation] Sunday and then he was back in here this morning. I guess you’d call him questionable [for the season-opener], but he’s making lots of progress.
  • Celtics executive Danny Ainge confirmed that Ryan Kelly, who was waived by the team on Saturday, will be joining the Maine Red Claws, Boston’s D-League affiliate, Goodman tweets.
  • Ainge also weighed in on James Young, who barely made the Celtics‘ regular season roster this season by edging out R.J. Hunter for the 15th and final spot. The executive told Chris Forsberg of, “I told him [Young] this morning that I think this is the first time he’s earned anything in his life. He earned this by his play, day in and day out, and he just has to keep earning it. He was given a lot as a young kid, with a lot of promise and a lot of potential and … he had to come out and win a spot with some good competition, and he did. So he just needs to keep doing what he’s been doing.
  • Pistons shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is eligible to sign an extension prior to this season’s deadline, but all signs point to him playing out the season and hitting restricted free agency next summer, as Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press explains.
  • Entering his third season in New York, this may be team president Phil Jackson‘s last chance to turn around the team, which is no lock, given the multiple roster and health questions surrounding the Knicks, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes.
  • The Hawks enter the season with just two point guards on the roster, a move the team made because of injuries suffered in the frontcourt, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. “With the injuries, the few nagging things on the front line, at the end of the day you are probably going to be a little short on the bigs or a little short on the point guard,” coach/executive Mike Budenholzer said. “We are going with an extra big, more cover on the bigs.”

And-Ones: Bachynski, Rubio, Kaminsky

Despite the speculation that the Wolves‘ addition of rookie point guard Kris Dunn will ultimately lead to Ricky Rubio being dealt, Rubio is looking forward to mentoring his younger teammate, Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press notes. “Really it’s a challenge. When a young guy like him who has a lot of potential comes, I think we can really play together,” Rubio told the scribe. “But if we don’t [share the floor often], I can really help him.

Rubio also noted that he’s thrilled about the hiring of Tom Thibodeau as coach/executive and believes the addition will help Minnesota’s young roster, Krawczynski adds. “I think we’ve got all the pieces together to make something happen,” Rubio said. “I’m really excited about the new coach and the new staff. They have a lot of years in their backpack and really can teach us how to reach the next level. I think we have the tools. We just have to put all them together.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Center Jordan Bachynski, who played for the Knicks‘ D-League affiliate last season, has signed with the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins in Japan, Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor reports (on Twitter). In 49 games for Westchester in 2015/16, the 26-year-old averaged 13.1 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.4 blocks.
  • Hornets forward Frank Kaminsky acknowledges that he needs to improve on the defense end if he hopes to advance as an NBA player, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer relays. “I’ve got to be a better overall defender. I was overwhelmed at times,” Kaminsky said. “My preparation, obviously, needs to get better. I so want to be a more consistent player. I’d have a good game and then disappear in the next.”
  • Pistons assistant coach Tim Hardaway is contesting drunken driving charges stemming from an April arrest in Oakland County, The Detroit News relays. Hardaway was stopped by authorities in Michigan back in April and he had a blood alcohol level of .17 percent, according to court records. That blood alcohol level more than twice the state’s legal limit of .08 percent.

Southeast Notes: Dragic, Winslow, Thibodeau

The Heat have a track record of luring free agents to Miami on below-market contracts, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald notes. Center Udonis Haslem offered an explanation for the trend, saying, “It’s a first-class organization, winning organization, and you see how [team president] Pat [Riley] and [owner] Micky [Arison] work together, how the players are treated, how we love being here. And [players] see other people make sacrifices and they start to wonder, ‘Why is everybody sacrificing to be there? Why is everybody sacrificing to stay there?’ When they get a chance to be a part of it, then they buy in.

Combo guard Goran Dragic, who signed a five-year, $90MM deal this past offseason, left millions on the table from other suitors in order to remain part of the Heat’s winning culture, Jackson relays. “When the time came and we negotiated, [agent Rade Filopovich] said we can get more somewhere else,” Dragic said. “But the most important thing for me was to be in the right place to try to win a championship. I didn’t even want to question that. Because it’s a winning culture here. Everybody wants to win, at least the players that are here. You want to put yourself in a good situation that you can develop your game, that you can get better and get the highest prize. I’m happy here. I went through some struggles but I’m really happy I’m part of this team. Everything looks good now.

Here’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Hornets surprised a number of draft experts when they selected Frank Kaminsky over Justise Winslow in the first round of the 2015 NBA draft. Coach Steve Clifford indicated that it was a matter of redundancy that led Charlotte to pass on Winslow, Jackson relays in a separate piece. “[The decision] was difficult, because Justise is a good player. But so much of it is need. Justise’s position, that versatile three/four, is what we have in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist [who missed most of the season with injury]. But we were really high on Frank anyway,” Clifford said.
  • The Wizards may not be a good fit for Tom Thibodeau, since the team isn’t offering organizational control to head coaching candidates, and that’s something the former Bulls coach reportedly prefers, Ben Standig of CSN Mid-Atlantic notes. Scott Brooks is the reported front-runner for Washington’s coaching vacancy, though Thibodeau has also drawn consideration from the Wizards as well.
  • The Hawks have recalled swingman Lamar Patterson from the Austin Spurs of the NBA D-League, the team announced via press release.