Hassan Whiteside

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Roberson, Thunder, Dozier

With Trevor Ariza unavailable for the NBA’s restart this summer, Damian Lillard thinks the Trail Blazers could opt for a big starting lineup that features Carmelo Anthony at the three (Twitter link via Royce Young of ESPN).

As Jason Quick of The Athletic writes, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts confirmed that returning center Jusuf Nurkic will reenter the starting lineup alongside Lillard, Anthony, and CJ McCollum. That leaves one starting spot up for grabs, and if Portland goes big, Zach Collins or even Hassan Whiteside could occupy that last spot.

“I haven’t ruled out starting Hassan and Nurk together,” Stotts said when discussing the Trail Blazers’ lineup. “Why not? … It gives you something to write about.”

Stotts, who referred to Ariza as the Trail Blazers’ top perimeter defender, suggested that the team will fill that hole in its rotation with a “by-committee” approach. As Quick details, Anthony, Gary Trent Jr., Mario Hezonja, and Nassir Little could all play a role in that committee.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Thunder forward Andre Roberson, who hasn’t played in an NBA game in two-and-a-half years, has been participating in individual workouts at the club’s practice facility, head coach Billy Donovan told reporters on Wednesday (link via Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman). Roberson’s availability for the restart will be determined after the team sees him in action in five-on-five workouts.
  • Chesapeake Energy Corporation, the company that owns the naming rights for the Thunder‘s arena, filed for bankruptcy on Sunday, as Royce Young of ESPN writes. Chesapeake’s agreement with the Thunder runs through the 2022/23 season — it’s not clear how that deal will be affected by the company’s bankruptcy.
  • PJ Dozier‘s new deal with the Nuggets is a three-year pact that was completed the team’s using mid-level exception, as Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights notes (via Twitter). It features minimum salaries in all three seasons, including about $183K this season and a partial guarantee of $1.2MM in 2020/21, for a total guarantee in the neighborhood of $1.4MM.

Southwest Notes: Grizzlies, Brunson, Mavs, Pelicans

Before transitioning back into a media role with The Athletic, John Hollinger held a high-level position in the Grizzlies‘ basketball operations department for seven years, providing input on many key roster decisions during that stretch. Although Hollinger says he doesn’t spend much time contemplating “what-if” scenarios, he admits that he still thinks about the possibility of Memphis drafting Nikola Jokic back in 2014.

Looking back on the 2014 draft today at The Athletic, Hollinger concedes the Grizzlies weren’t eyeing Jokic with their No. 22 pick in the first round, but points to the No. 35 selection – which Memphis acquired from Utah – as a spot where Jokic would have made sense.

According to Hollinger, Jokic was ranked atop the Grizzlies’ list of draft-and-stash possibilities when the No. 35 pick arrived, but the team had Jarnell Stokes – who could potentially contribute right away – rated higher on its overall board.

Revisiting the pick now, Hollinger notes that the decision to select Stokes rather than Jokic – who was taken by the Nuggets at No. 41 – created something of a ripple effect of missed opportunities for the Grizzlies. Because Stokes occupied a spot on the 15-man roster, the team ended up waiving Hassan Whiteside that fall, despite an impressive training camp. If Memphis had stashed Jokic instead of drafting Stokes, the club may have kept Whiteside out of camp with that final roster spot.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Appearing recently on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson said his rehab from a shoulder injury is “definitely going well,” but that he’s still a ways off from being able to suit up and play. “As much as I would want to, as much as I would try my hardest to force them to let me play (if the season resumes in June), I don’t think it would be a possibility,” Brunson said, per The Dallas Morning News.
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is holding off reopening the team’s practice facility for the time being, suggesting to Brian Dameris and Mark Followill on their 77 Minutes in Heaven podcast that an inability to test players and staffers for COVID-19 is a roadblock (Twitter link via Tim MacMahon of ESPN). I just don’t think the risk is worth the reward,” Cuban said, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who tweets that other teams share the Mavs’ concerns about not being able to test asymptomatic players entering their gyms.
  • The Pelicans aren’t reopening their facility this week and may not do so next week either, tweets Andrew Lopez of ESPN. A source tells Lopez that May 18 may be a target date for the club. We heard on Wednesday that the Rockets are also circling May 18 as their reopening date.

NBA Plans To Launch Players-Only 2K Tournament

12:07pm: The Boardroom has provided a full list of the 16 participants in the tournament, along with the first-round matchups (Twitter link). Devin Booker (Suns), Trae Young (Hawks), and Zach LaVine (Bulls) are among the other stars set to take part in the event.

11:19am: With no NBA games expected to happen on the court anytime soon, the league is setting up a virtual tournament in an attempt to sate fans’ appetite for basketball, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

According to Haynes, the league intends to launch an NBA 2K tournament that will feature NBA players competing against one another. The goal is to begin the 10-day event this Friday, though the league is still working out and finalizing the details, sources tell Haynes. The tournament would be broadcast on ESPN.

Nets star Kevin Durant, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, Cavaliers center Andre Drummond, and free agent big man DeMarcus Cousins are among the 16 players expected to participate, per Haynes.

Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel had previously tweeted that Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside and Heat swingman Derrick Jones were among the players set to play in an NBA 2K20 Players Tournament in April. That info appears to be based on an announcement from the NBPA, which was quickly deleted. Jeff Garcia of Spurs Zone (via Twitter) shares the full list of participants the NBPA identified in that premature release.

According to Winderman, the tournament is expected to have a $100K prize for charity.

Blazers Offered Expiring Contracts For Kevin Love

The Trail Blazers were rumored to have kicked tires on Kevin Love earlier this year, and according to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic (via NBC Sports), the team offered Kent Bazemore and Hassan Whiteside for the big man.

Whiteside is making $27.1MM this season. Bazemore is making $19.3MM while Love is taking home $28.9MM. The outlined of the deal suggests that Portland would have received other players as part of the trade in order to meet the league’s salary-matching rules.

It’s not clear when exactly the proposal took place — the Blazers ended up trading Bazemore to the Kings in earlier January, so presumably, it was before that deal. Portland netted Trevor Ariza as part of the five-player trade.

The Cavaliers had Brandon Knight and John Henson on substantial expiring pacts prior to the team trading them to Detroit for Andre Drummond. Perhaps one of those two were in the proposed deal. Tristan Thompson, who is making $18.5M in the final year of his contract, could also have been a possibility, though that is simply speculation.

The Cavs couldn’t find common ground with potential trade partners when it came to Love’s trade value. Cleveland reportedly wanted a first-round pick in exchange for the big man, while it was rumored that some teams wanted a first-rounder just to take Love. The former All-Star has approximately $91MM left on his deal after this season.

Northwest Notes: Whiteside, Nuggets, Towns, Wiggins, Dort

The Trail Blazers will entertain offers for center Hassan Whiteside, a free agent after the season, and The Athletic’s Jason Quick estimates the chances of him being traded at 50/50. Quick also dealt with a few other Blazers-related topics.

Their recent trade with the Kings which involved five players and two second-round picks was a solid one, according to Quick, because the Trail Blazers saved approximately $12MM and upgraded at the wing with Trevor Ariza replacing Kent Bazemore. Portland is unlikely to deal its first-round pick because president of basketball operations Neil Olshey covets draft choices, even if the draft class is considered weak, Quick adds.

We have more from around the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets will continue to be without three rotation players when they face the Grizzlies on Tuesday, Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports tweets. Starting point guard Jamal Murray will miss his sixth straight game due to an ankle sprain while power forward Paul Millsap will sit out for the 11th consecutive game due to a knee injury. Backup big man Mason Plumlee will miss his fourth straight game due to a foot ailment.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins get the blame when things aren’t going well with the Timberwolves but the players around them need to do more, Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. Guard Shabazz Napier told Youngblood that the role players need to do their jobs better. “This team is so used to KAT and Wigs doing all the work that when it doesn’t happen, we just stand around,’’ Napier said. “That’s how it is. We just gotta find ways to help them guys out. … We all, the role players, have to figure out, how do we help them out better?’’
  • Undrafted rookie guard Luguentz Dort has earned playing time with the Thunder for his defense while showing more of an offensive game, Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman relays. Over the last five games, Dort is averaging 7.2 PPG and 1.8 APG while shooting 5-for-12 on 3-pointers and making seven steals. “You can’t tell me he’s a rookie,” guard Chris Paul said of the two-way player.

Southeast Notes: Nunn, Robinson, Wizards, Goodwin

Several players around the NBA with non-guaranteed contracts have already been waived or remain in danger of being cut as this week’s salary guarantee deadline approaches. However, Heat youngsters Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson have nothing to worry about.

While their contracts still aren’t technically guaranteed, Nunn and Robinson have started all season for the 26-10 Heat and will, of course, be retained through the January 7 deadline. While it’s a mere formality at this point, Nunn and Robinson are happy to assure themselves of those full guarantees, as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel writes.

“It’ll definitely be a relief,” Nunn said, admitting that he had “kept an eye on” the guarantee deadline. Robinson, meanwhile, said he isn’t taking his seven-figure salary for granted.

“I hope I never get used to that or that it ever becomes normal,” he said. “Well, I guess I hope it does. Well, you know what I mean: I hope I have the perspective to appreciate that it’s not normal. Every two weeks, I just try to be appreciative of it.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Hassan Whiteside seemed “genuinely confused” by the frequent boos he heard from Heat fans during his return to Miami this weekend, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Shortly after he was traded from Miami to Portland this summer, Whiteside filmed himself yelling, “We’ve got shooters!” on social media, a phrase Heat fans chanted back at him near the end of Sunday’s game. “I didn’t really realize they felt it was a diss,” Whiteside said after the game, per Reynolds.
  • Ben Standig and Fred Katz of The Athletic examine why the Wizards elected to keep Gary Payton II, a 27-year-old on a one-year contract, over Justin Robinson, a 22-year-old who had been on a team-friendly three-year deal. Washington released Robinson on Sunday before his 2019/20 salary could become guaranteed. The Athletic duo also pointed out that the Wizards don’t have the G League rights for Robinson or Johnathan Williams, who was cut on Sunday too.
  • Hawks point guard Brandon Goodwin, who is on a two-way contract, logged just five total minutes before Christmas, but has averaged 14.8 MPG in the team’s last five games. Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution looks at what sort of impression Goodwin is making in Atlanta.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2020: Northwest Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Northwest Division:

Malik Beasley, Nuggets, 23, PG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $7.8MM deal in 2016
Beasley reportedly declined a three-year extension offer worth at least $30MM prior to the season. Oops. Beasley’s playing time has significantly dropped this season and so has his production. He’s averaging 6.9 PPG and just 1.0 APG in 16.0 MPG. Beasley has been a bigger factor on offense recently, reaching double figures in four of the last six appearances, but he never left the bench against Indiana on Thursday. The prime trade candidate probably needs a change of scenery to restore his value. Denver can make him a restricted free agent but that’s an increasingly unlikely scenario.

Noah Vonleh, Timberwolves, 24, PF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2019
Vonleh entices NBA teams with his physique and potential but no one has been able to tap into it. At age 24, the 2014 lottery pick has already played for five teams. The way things are going in Minnesota, he’ll probably be looking for a sixth team to take a chance on him. He’ll get you some rebounds but defenses don’t have to respect him on the offensive end. He hasn’t developed a three-point shot, which is a no-no for a young ‘four man’ these days. Injuries led to increased playing time for Vonleh the past two weeks before he sat out Thursday’ game with a back injury. It’s unlikely he’ll remain in the rotation when the T-Wolves get healthier.

Nerlens Noel, Thunder, 25, PF (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2019
Seems like Noel has been around for quite awhile but he’s still just 25. He’ll never live up to his draft status (No. 6 pick of 2013) but in shorter bursts, Noel can be quite effective. Noel has been a force off the bench at both ends of the floor, averaging 7.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.4 BPG and 1.1 SPG in 18.7 MPG. He’s even making his free throws this season (79.7%). Noel knows his strengths and finds ways to contribute. He can have a long career in the league as a backup big.

Hassan Whiteside, Trail Blazers, 30, C (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $98.4MM deal in 2016
Going strictly by the numbers, Whiteside is having a bounce-back season after a couple of uneasy years with Miami. During 14 games in December, Whiteside posted a stat line of 16.2 PPG on 63.2% shooting, 15.1 RPG, 1.8 APG and 3.4 BPG in 31.6 MPG. The flip side is that the Blazers have nosedived in the standings with Whiteside as their starting center. As a traditional post man who doesn’t shoot threes, Whiteside will have to take a significant pay cut next season. But his rebounding and shot-blocking prowess can’t be totally ignored.

Jordan Clarkson, Jazz, 27, SG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $50MM deal in 2016
The NBA went five-plus months without a trade until Utah, seeking more bench scoring, acquired Clarkson from Cleveland for Dante Exum and two second-round picks. Utah is thrilled with the early returns. In his first four games in a Jazz uniform, Clarkson has averaged 15.0 PPG in 23.8 MPG. That lifted Utah to victories over Portland, the Los Angeles Clippers and Detroit. Represented by super agent Rich Paul, Clarkson should draw plenty of interest as teams look to fortify their benches in a weak market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Heat Glad Goran Dragic Deal Didn’t Happen

Goran Dragic appeared to be on his way to the Mavericks this summer as part of the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade. However, within hours of the news being reported, the deal was off and the Heat were forced to find other deals that would allow them to bring back Butler’s salary. In the end, Dragic remained in town while Hassan Whiteside was shipped to Portland and the franchise is thrilled that the Mavericks had a change of heart.

“We’re all glad that deal didn’t happen,” a Heat official tells Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

The sense of relief came not only because the team was able to keep Dragic but also because the new terms of the Butler sign-and-trade allowed the franchise to move Whiteside, a player the coaching staff didn’t want, per Jackson.

Miami was able to go from middling team in the Eastern Conference to a legit contender for homecourt advantage in round one due to the club’s ability to make shrewd moves this past offseason. Still, good fortune, like the Mavericks declining the Dragic deal, also helped.

Heat Notes: Waiters, Jones, Whiteside, Winslow

Dion Waiters appears to have returned to the Heat in good standing after serving a 10-game suspension, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Waiters becomes eligible again in this afternoon’s game with the Nets, but coach Erik Spoelstra wouldn’t say when he expects to start using him again. Waiters hasn’t played yet this season, and Miami is off to a 13-5 start with plenty of depth at the wing spots.

Waiters has been suspended twice already this season, once for a preseason argument with Spoelstra over playing time and once for an incident on a team flight that reportedly involved a THC-infused gummy. Still, he seems to have the support of his teammates, many of whom spoke out to welcome him back.

“We talk about the next step, what’s coming now, how we can build from that point on,” said Udonis Haslem, who contacted Waiters several times while he was away from the team. “Those are the conversations that I have with him, and I express my support for him. It’s not a time to turn your back and have a beat-down session. It’s time to be there for your brother.”

There’s more from Miami:

  • The Heat may get another reinforcement with the return of Derrick Jones Jr., Jackson adds in the same story. Jones, who hasn’t played since Nov. 7 because of a strained hip, is listed as probable for today’s game.
  • The offseason trade that sent Hassan Whiteside to the Trail Blazers is working out for both teams, observes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Whiteside has given Portland a much-needed rim protector amid injuries to other centers and blocked 10 shots Friday night. He didn’t have a future in Miami because Heat management preferred Bam Adebayo and probably wouldn’t have re-signed Whiteside after his contract expires this summer. They also needed to clear cap room to complete the deal for Jimmy Butler.
  • Justise Winslow may eventually reclaim his starting role, but he has been effective in two games off the bench since returning from a concussion, Winderman notes in a separate story. It has helped that Winslow is joined on the second unit by two former starters in Goran Dragic and Kelly Olynyk. “He and Goran and KO, they already have a great chemistry, among the three of them,” Spoelstra said. “So that, those minutes with those guys, it’s almost like a bike, again. And I think that helps him find his rhythm, and he’ll continue to get better as we get more games.”

Heat Notes: Winslow, DeRozan, Leonard

Justise Winslow made his return to the lineup on Wednesday, playing 34 minutes in his first game back from a concussion. After the game, coach Erik Spoelstra said that the plan moving forward is not to have the Duke product play that much.

“I had no intention of playing him that much. K-Nunn got hit in the chest. He couldn’t play. Duncan got five fouls. So thank goodness we had Justise for those minutes,” Spo said (via Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald.

The team was also without Jimmy Butler, who missed the contest because he was not feeling well. Butler is expected to be back in action on Friday, so that will also cut into Winslow’s playing time.

Here’s more from Miami.