Hoops Rumors Originals

Community Shootaround: Next Head Coaching Change

David Fizdale became the first head coach of the 2019/20 NBA season to be fired when he was let go by the Knicks last Friday. The move didn’t come as a huge surprise, having been telegraphed last month when executives Steve Mills and Scott Perry held an impromptu press conference to express disappointment with the club’s slow start.

However, Fizdale is unlikely to be the only head coach replaced prior to the spring. As we detailed last fall, nearly every NBA season over the last decade or so has featured multiple in-season coaching changes. In 2018/19, three coaches – Tyronn Lue (Cavaliers), Fred Hoiberg (Bulls), and Tom Thibodeau (Timberwolves) – had been dismissed by the time the All-Star break rolled around.

While Fizdale had been on the hot seat for much of the season, there aren’t a lot of other head coaches in similar situations. Many of the teams off to disappointing starts either have accomplished coaches whom they believe in, such as Gregg Popovich in San Antonio or Terry Stotts in Portland, or have new-ish coaches that they’re willing to be patient with, like John Beilein in Cleveland and Lloyd Pierce in Atlanta.

Still, there are a handful of head coaches whose seats might be heating up. Here are a few:

  • Alvin Gentry (Pelicans): Multiple recent reports have suggested that the Pelicans like Gentry and are willing to be patient with him, but the team was hoping for much better than a 6-18 start, even without Zion Williamson.
  • Jim Boylen (Bulls): John Hollinger and Sam Amick of The Athletic suggested this week that Boylen is still well-liked by Bulls management, but not so much by Bulls players. Chicago entered the season with playoff aspirations but has struggled in the early going, with an 8-17 record.
  • Scott Brooks (Wizards): The Wizards brought in Brooks in 2016 to coach a potential contender. With a new general manager taking over during the offseason and Washington embarking on a rebuild, it was unclear whether the franchise still envisioned Brooks as its coach of the future. He has done well so far though developing some of the Wizards’ young players.
  • Mike D’Antoni (Rockets): The 15-8 Rockets have been solid, but D’Antoni’s failed extension negotiations with team ownership in the offseason cast a cloud over his future with the team. A source told Hollinger and Amick that D’Antoni probably won’t remain in Houston beyond 2019/20. If the Rockets have a prolonged slump at all this season, it’s possible the team will consider making a change even before next spring.

What do you think? Will all of the coaches listed above – and the rest of the NBA’s head coaches – make it through the 2019/20 season? Or will at least one more team follow the Knicks’ lead and make an in-season change?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your two cents!

2020 NBA Free Agent Stock Watch Series

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA league year, we’re keeping an eye on 2020’s free-agents-to-be, monitoring their value and assessing how their play on the court will impact upcoming contract negotiations. Each of these looks at potential 2020 free agents focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on five players — one from each team.

Each installment in our Free Agent Stock Watch series looking ahead to the 2020 offseason is linked below, along with an outline of which players we discuss in each piece.

We’ll continue to update this page – which can be found under the “Hoops Rumors Features” sidebar of our desktop page, or in the “Features” section of our mobile site – as we add new entries over the coming weeks and months.


Eastern Conference

Atlantic

Central

Southeast


Western Conference

Northwest

Pacific

Southwest

Hoops Rumors Originals: 12/1/19 – 12/7/19

Every week, the Hoops Rumors writing team creates original content to complement our news feed. Here are our original segments and features from the past seven days:

Community Shootaround: Knicks Chaos

Tonight, the Knicks suffered their second consecutive blowout defeat (and eighth straight loss overall), falling 129-92 to the Nuggets. Head coach David Fizdale‘s job appears to be in jeopardy.

In a postgame presser, Fizdale called the loss “sickening,” according to the New York Post’s Stefan Bondy. Soon after the loss, USA Today’s Chris Iseman and Newsday’s Steve Popper both commented on Fizdale’s increasingly shaky vocational security in separate pieces. Fizdale’s record as the Knicks’ head coach is 21-83.

But how much blame should really be allocated to Fizdale for the team’s lackluster 4-18 start to this 2019/20 season? Rookie RJ Barrett and second-year big man Mitchell Robinson have flashed significant promise under his tutelage. Fizdale remains respected across the league thanks to his time as an assistant coach on Erik Spoelstra‘s championship-winning Heat staff.

This summer, the Knicks whiffed on adding future Hall of Famers Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, who opted to join New York’s crosstown rivals, the upstart Nets. Instead, the team issued a public apology and signed four replacement-level power forwards to exorbitant-but-short contracts, by the front office twosome of Scott Perry and Steve Mills. Yes, Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis can play some center, and yes, Marcus Morris can log some time as a small forward, but ultimately, all three players are best served at the four, as is their fellow free agent addition Julius Randle.

Perry and Mills also traded All-Star center Kristaps Porzingis in a package to the Mavericks for disappointing point guard Dennis Smith Jr., a few middling months of DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews, and an underwhelming pair of future first-round picks that ought to be well clear of the lottery.

Owner James Dolan has stirred the pot plenty himself, rotating through a seemingly endless series of coaches (12, and counting) and front office heads (nine) since taking over the team in 1999. There’s no need to get into the bevy of on- and off-court disasters logged by Dolan and his Knicks associates in the intervening 20 years, but let’s just say… it’s not pretty.

Ultimately, the buck stops with Dolan. His conduct as Knicks owner has led to Durant noting that the Knicks have lost their cache in a recent interview with Hot 97’s Ebro Darden. “I think a lot of fans look at the Knicks as a brand and expect these younger players [to view the Knicks the same way] who, in their lifetime, don’t remember the Knicks being good,” Durant told Darden.

The onus for the league’s first $4 billion team losing its sheen falls squarely at Dolan’s feet, in this writer’s opinion. Coaches and front office management may come and go, but until Dolan sells his team, basketball in the Mecca will remain a mess.

What do you think? Who should bear the brunt of the blame for this lost season — the players, Fizdale, management, or Dolan? Or just all of the above?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in!

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Pacific 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 Pacific Division:

Montrezl Harrell, Clippers, 25, PF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $12MM deal in 2018
The Rockets had no idea what they were giving up when they tossed Harrell into the Chris Paul blockbuster. Harrell doesn’t have a three-point shot but otherwise, he’s a terror. He was a prime candidate for Sixth Man of the Year last season and will be once again. He’s averaging 19.1 PPG, 8.0 RPG and 2.2 APG despite starting just two of 22 games. Harrell will be a hot commodity as an unrestricted free agent and the Clippers will be pushed into luxury tax territory if they want to retain him. It would be worth the cost.

Glenn Robinson III, Warriors, 25, SF (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $1.9MM deal in 2019
Robinson’s last season in Indiana was a washout due to an ankle injury. His one season in Detroit was a washout due to a lack of production. With an expanded role on a bad team, Robinson is upgrading his resume. He’s averaging 32.1 MPG as a starter and averaging 11.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 2.0 APG while making 38.9% of his 3-point tries. Stats compiled under these circumstances can be deceiving but Robinson has at least regained his confidence and shown he’s worthy of a rotation spot on most teams.

Avery Bradley, Lakers, 29, SG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $9.8MM deal in 2019
Bradley started 10 games for the streaking Lakers this season, though he didn’t shoot well (28.6% from deep) playing alongside two of the league’s biggest stars. The big issue for Bradley in recent seasons has been staying on the court and once again, the injury bug has bitten him. He’s out at least another week with a lower leg issue. Bradley’s contract includes a $5MM player option and he needs to show he can stay healthy and productive for a long stretch in order to decline that option and test the free agent waters.

Aron Baynes, Suns, 32, C (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $10.6MM deal in 2018
The popular Australian big man has gotten off to a terrific start in Phoenix with Deandre Ayton serving his 25-game league-imposed suspension. Baynes is averaging 14.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG and 2.9 APG in 24.0 MPG through 13 games. He’s also turned into a solid three-point shooter (43.9%), adding a new element to his game. He’s been slowed recently by a calf injury but with a dearth of quality centers around the league, Baynes will get some multi-year offers as an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Harry Giles, Kings, 21, PF (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $6.6MM deal in 2017
The 20th pick of the 2017 draft, Giles has battling injuries since entering the league. He didn’t make his NBA debut until last season, then appeared in 58 games off the bench. The Kings declined their fourth-year option on him prior to this season, making him an unrestricted free agent this summer. He doesn’t have a rotation spot under new coach Luke Walton, averaging just 7.4 MPG in seven appearances this season. The same age as a college senior, Giles will get a second chance somewhere but his offers will be modest.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Pacific Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

Even as the Warriors have fallen off a cliff this season due to injuries and offseason roster changes, the Pacific has remained one of the more competitive divisions in basketball.

The Lakers and Clippers are among the NBA’s best teams and look like legit championship contenders. The Suns and Kings aren’t in that tier, but they’re currently neck-and-neck for the No. 8 seed in the West. It’s possible there could be as many as four buyers in the division at the trade deadline.

After having initially looked last month at three potential trade candidates in the Pacific, we’re singling out three more today. Let’s dive in…

Trevor Ariza, F
Sacramento Kings
$12.2MM cap hit; $1.8MM of $12.8MM salary guaranteed for 2020/21

Ariza has bounced around the league since leaving Houston during the 2018 offseason, playing for the Suns, Wizards, and Kings since then. None of those teams has been a perfect fit for the veteran forward, who has only logged 32 total minutes for Sacramento since November 8 due to a combination of personal reasons, a groin injury, and general ineffectiveness.

The Kings will have a crowded frontcourt rotation when Marvin Bagley III returns, so it’s unclear whether or not Ariza will have an opportunity to play regular, consistent minutes all season. That could make him expendable.

Since Sacramento is a young team pushing for a playoff team, the front office may decide it’s worth keeping Ariza around for his veteran leadership and for depth purposes — especially if he continues his up-and-down play and doesn’t have much value on the trade market. But it’s not a lock that he’s still on the Kings’ roster by February 7.

Willie Cauley-Stein, C
Golden State Warriors
$2.2MM cap hit; $2.3MM player option for 2020/21

Cauley-Stein could have received a more lucrative deal with another team, but opted to join the Warriors for a chance to play with a contender. Unfortunately, that plan has backfired, as Golden State’s 4-18 record puts the club in the running for the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft, not a title.

In addition to being a down year for the Warriors, it’s been a bit of a slow start for Cauley-Stein, whose scoring average is down to just 7.5 PPG. Still, he has started 18 games at center for the Warriors and is blocking a career-best 1.2 shots per contest. No contender would target him as a potential starter, but he could have some value as a backup option.

If the Warriors believe Cauley-Stein will likely opt out at season’s end and return to the open market, it makes sense to see if they can get anything for him this season. His minimum-salary contract can be dealt without taking any salary back and he could be replaced with a smaller minimum-salary cap hit, freeing up some much-needed flexibility for the Dubs under their hard cap.

Maurice Harkless, F
Los Angeles Clippers
$11MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Harkless, acquired by the Clippers in one of my favorite moves of the summer, has been starting games and playing consistent minutes for a title contender despite being viewed as a salary dump five months ago. It’s still hard to believe that the Clips were able to acquire a first-round pick in the deal that netted them Harkless, who is shooting a career-best 51.0% with a 37.9% three-point rate so far.

As a reliable three-and-D option for the Clippers, Harkless probably isn’t on the trade block. However, he’s also the only mid-level type player on the roster who would realistically be expendable if L.A. wanted to acquire another piece.

Lou Williams ($8MM) and Montrezl Harrell ($6MM) aren’t going anywhere, and it seems relatively safe to assume Patrick Beverley ($12.3MM) and Ivica Zubac ($6.5MM) aren’t either. That leaves Harkless as the only other player on the books with a cap hit between $5MM and 32MM. Throw in the fact that he’s on an expiring contract and he’s the most logical salary-matching piece the Clippers have.

Of course, there’s a decent chance the Clippers simply stand pat at the deadline and hope that possible reinforcements emerge in the following weeks on the buyout market. In that scenario, Harkless is a good bet to finish the season with the club.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hoops Rumors Originals: 11/23/19 – 11/30/19

Every week, the Hoops Rumors writing team creates original content to complement our news feed. Here are our original segments and features from the past seven days:

Community Shootaround: Biggest Early-Season Disappointments

After praising some of the NBA’s most pleasant surprises of the 2019/20 season so far on Thursday, we’re headed to the other end of the spectrum today. For every team that has exceeded its expectations early on in ’19/20, there’s one that has failed to meet expectations — in some cases, in dramatic fashion.

In the Western Conference, for instance, the Trail Blazers and Spurs entered the season viewed as good bets to make the playoffs. That could certainly still happen, but each team has dug itself an early hole over the last several weeks — Portland is 7-12, while San Antonio is just 6-13. The Blazers can at least blame injuries to some extent, as they’re missing two key big men, Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins, but neither team can be pleased with its results so far.

Elsewhere in the West, it’s been a disappointing 20 games in Golden State, though that can blamed more on bad luck than poor play. Already missing Klay Thompson, the Warriors have been without Stephen Curry and Kevon Looney for virtually all of the season, with D’Angelo Russell and Draymond Green also missing time due to injuries. The Dubs didn’t look great even when the roster was mostly healthy, but their injury woes have made them the NBA’s worst team, at 4-16.

In the East, the Sixers and Nets have had their ups and downs, but are still 13-6 and 10-9, respectively, so it’s hard to view their seasons as disappointments. The same can’t be said for the 6-13 Bulls and Pistons. Neither team is all that far off the playoff pace in the East, considering the 8-12 Hornets hold the No. 8 seed, but Chicago and Detroit hoped to push for records of .500 or better this season. That seems like a long shot now.

Things have been even uglier for the Knicks, who made win-now moves in the offseason in the hopes of getting into the playoff mix. It hasn’t worked out that way so far, as New York sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings with a 4-15 mark and has shown few reasons to believe a postseason push is around the corner.

Outside of this season’s underachievers, there have been plenty of injury-related disappointments. We still haven’t seen much-hyped No. 1 pick Zion Williamson make his NBA regular-season debut, and stars like Curry, Gordon Hayward, and De’Aaron Fox have joined the likes of Thompson and Kevin Durant on the long-term injury list. A shoulder injury also prevented Kyrie Irving from making his return to Boston this week, which was undoubtedly a disappointment for the Celtics fans who bought tickets hoping to… uh, welcome Kyrie back.

We want to hear your thoughts. Which teams, players, or injuries have you been most disappointed by so far this season? Do you expect some of those underachieving clubs to turn things around, or should most of them prepare for more of the same?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in!

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Southeast Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

We’re still more than two weeks away from December 15, the date when most of this past offseason’s free agent signees become trade-eligible, so the NBA’s 2019/20 trade season hasn’t really begun yet. But with the regular season nearing the one-quarter mark, we’re getting a better sense of which teams might be buyers and which non-contenders will end up being sellers.

Having gone through all six divisions once as we examine potential trade candidates, we’re starting our second go-round today. Here are three more possible trade candidates from out of the Southeast:

Davis Bertans, PF
Washington Wizards
$7MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Bertans, who would likely still be a Spur if Marcus Morris had never agreed to sign with San Antonio over the summer, has played a crucial role in helping the Wizards post some of the NBA’s best offensive numbers. One of the most dangerous frontcourt shooters in the league, Bertans is making a career-high 44.3% of his three-pointers on 7.6 attempts per game and has increased his scoring average off the bench to 13.3 PPG.

The Wizards might try to lock up Bertans long-term, but the 27-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, giving the club little leverage in contract talks. If Washington falls out of the playoff hunt in the East, Bertans will be one of the team’s best trade chips, based on his affordable cap hit ($7MM), his expiring contract, and his ability to provide instant offense.

One scout who spoke to ESPN’s Bobby Marks earlier this month suggested that it wouldn’t be a surprise if there’s a team willing to surrender a late first-round pick for Bertans at the trade deadline.

Jabari Parker, PF
Atlanta Hawks
$6.5MM cap hit; $6.5MM player option for 2020/21

Like the Wizards, the Hawks probably won’t shift into selling mode until their playoff hopes are all but extinguished. And it may take a while for that to happen in an Eastern Conference where the 8-12 Hornets currently hold onto the No. 8 seed.

Still, at 4-15, the Hawks are already 3.5 games out of the postseason picture, so unless they start winning some games soon, they’ll have to consider shopping some veteran players. Although Parker is only 24, the sixth-year forward qualifies as one such veteran.

With 17.8 PPG on 51.8% shooting through 18 games (28.1 MPG), Parker has been the Hawks’ best scorer not named Trae Young this season. And it’s not as if he’s been putting up numbers against second-stringers — he has been a starter since John Collins was hit with a 25-game suspension early in the season.

With a $6.5MM player option for the 2020/21 season, Parker could be a one-and-done in Atlanta, so if a team in need of frontcourt scoring wants to make a play for him before the deadline, the Hawks would be wise to listen.

Aaron Gordon, F
Orlando Magic
$19.9MM cap hit; descending guaranteed salaries through 2021/22

By all accounts, Gordon isn’t a trade candidate right now. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported two weeks ago that teams were monitoring the former No. 4 overall pick in case he becomes available, but said that Orlando has shown no interest in such a move.

Still, the Magic (7-11) have been disappointing so far and their offense has been disastrous. Jonathan Isaac, not exactly a dynamic scorer himself, nonetheless looks like a franchise cornerstone due to his versatility, defensive ability, and upside, and Sean Deveney of Forbes recently suggested there may be some concern within the organization about the long-term fit of an Isaac/Gordon frontcourt.

Gordon is just 24 years old and still has intriguing potential, despite his lack of improvement so far this season. He also has a contract that declines in value each year, eventually dipping to $16.4MM in 2021/22. That makes him a valuable trade chip.

I think the Magic front office will be patient in giving the current group every opportunity to make things work, and a trade for scoring help wouldn’t necessarily have to include Gordon. But moving the young forward is a possibility the team should at least consider if its struggles continue.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Community Shootaround: NBA’s Most Pleasant Surprises

Over the first five-plus weeks of the 2019/20 season, a handful of teams from each conference have been among the NBA’s most pleasant surprises, outperforming preseason expectations. Since it’s Thanksgiving Day in the United States, it only seems right for tonight’s Community Shootaround discussion to focus on those teams – and players – that fans should be most thankful for so far this season.

In the East, the Celtics and Raptors were expected to be among the conference’s strongest playoff contenders, but few expected them to be quite this good. With matching 13-4 records, Boston and Toronto are nearly on a 63-win pace in the early going. It seems unlikely that either team will maintain that pace, but they look like legit contenders. The Raptors, who have been missing Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka due to injuries, have been especially impressive, relying on youngsters Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet en route to their fast start.

The Heat and Pacers are among the East’s other pleasant surprises so far. Led by Jimmy Butler and rookies Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn, Miami is 12-5 and has yet to lose at home. Meanwhile, things could have gone south for an Indiana team already missing Victor Oladipo after it dropped its first three games and Myles Turner went down with an injury, but the Pacers have won 11 of their last 14 since then, with Turner returning earlier this month.

Further down the standings, the Wizards (6-10) and Hornets (7-12) are outside the Eastern playoff picture, but not by much. They were expected to be among the league’s bottom-dwellers, but have been surprisingly competitive.

Out West, the Lakers were viewed as a probable contender, but their league-best 16-2 start has still raised some eyebrows. The LeBron James/Anthony Davis duo hasn’t exactly been suffering through any growing pains so far, and the supporting cast has done its part.

Thanks to a leap to superstardom by Luka Doncic (30.1 PPG, 10.0 RPG, and 9.5 APG through 17 games), the 11-6 Mavericks are currently a top-five team in the West and look like a legit playoff team. The Timberwolves (10-8) and Suns (8-9) haven’t been quite as convincing as Dallas, but both Minnesota and Phoenix are currently in the top eight in the conference despite being viewed as near-locks for the lottery.

We want to know what you think. Which teams (and players) have you been most pleasantly surprised by so far in 2019/20? Which strong starts do you believe are sustainable? Are there any in particular that you’d like to see continue?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your two cents!