- Before winning the 2017 Three-Point Contest, Rockets guard Eric Gordon spoke about his time in New Orleans, referring to the Pelicans franchise as “dysfunctional”. “My role changed a lot,” he told Jeff Duncan of the Times-Picayune. “If I would have had the same freedom that I had (in Houston), it would have been a different result. It’s always been a little dysfunctional, not just for me… everybody.”
- Daryl Morey and the Rockets are content with their roster, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, and have no desire to make a drastic move at the deadline. They would, however, be open to adding to their bench.
After a quiet Tuesday in terms of D-League moves, we have a few assignments and recalls to pass along for Wednesday. Here’s the latest:
- The Raptors have recalled Bruno Caboclo from Raptors 905, the team announced in a tweet. The third-year forward has played just eight NBA games this season.
- The Grizzlies have recalled guard Wade Baldwin, center Deyonta Davis and forward Jarell Martin from their affiliate in Iowa.
- The Heat are sending Okaro White to their Sioux Falls affiliate so he will be eligible for the D-League All-Star Game, tweets Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel.
- The Pelicans have recalled rookie forward Cheick Diallo from the D-League, the team announced today in a press release. Diallo had been playing for Charlotte’s D-League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, since New Orleans doesn’t have an affiliate of its own. He averaged 17. 0 PPG and 11.3 RPG in six games with the Swarm.
- Rookies Chinanu Onuaku and Kyle Wiltjer have been recalled from the D-League by the Rockets, according to the team (Twitter link). The duo helped lead the Rio Grande Valley Vipers to a dramatic win on Tuesday, totaling 55 points and 16 rebounds between them.
- The Pacers have recalled Rakeem Christmas from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the team announced today in a press release. The D-League’s All-Star break is now underway, which is why Christmas and others are being recalled to their NBA teams today.
The Knicks have been one of the NBA’s most dysfunctional teams this season. On the court, the team has gone just 23-33, with $72MM man Joakim Noah failing to make a significant impact, and Jeff Hornacek and Phil Jackson not always on the same page when it came to the use of the triangle. Off the court, things have been even worse, with Jackson criticizing star forward Carmelo Anthony, and owner James Dolan at odds with former Knicks star Charles Oakley.
On the west coast, the Lakers haven’t been much better, racking up a 19-38 record, good for the No. 14 seed in the West. The team hasn’t made as many off-court headlines, but the structure of the front office is currently up in the air, with new advisor Magic Johnson publicly declaring that he wants to be the one calling the shots on roster decisions.
Despite the problems in New York and Los Angeles, the Knicks and Lakers remain the NBA’s two most valuable franchises, according to a report from Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes. The Knicks and Lakers are the only teams valued at more than $3 billion by Forbes.
Team valuations are up around the league, with the Warriors leading the way among this year’s increases — according to Forbes, the Dubs are 37% more valuable that they were at this time in 2016. In total, 18 teams have a valuation exceeding $1 billion, which is up from 13 teams last year and just three teams in 2015. The average NBA franchise is now worth $1.36 billion, according to the report.
Here’s the full list of NBA franchise valuations, per Forbes:
- New York Knicks: $3.3 billion
- Los Angeles Lakers: $3 billion
- Golden State Warriors: $2.6 billion
- Chicago Bulls: $2.5 billion
- Boston Celtics: $2.2 billion
- Los Angeles Clippers; $2 billion
- Brooklyn Nets: $1.8 billion
- Houston Rockets: $1.65 billion
- Dallas Mavericks: $1.45 billion
- Miami Heat: $1.35 billion
- Cleveland Cavaliers: $1.2 billion
- San Antonio Spurs: $1.175 billion
- Toronto Raptors: $1.125 billion
- Phoenix Suns: $1.1 billion
- Sacramento Kings: $1.075 billion
- Portland Trail Blazers: $1.05 billion
- Oklahoma City Thunder: $1.025 billion
- Washington Wizards: $1 billion
- Orlando Magic: $920MM
- Utah Jazz: $910MM
- Detroit Pistons: $900MM
- Denver Nuggets: $890MM
- Atlanta Hawks: $885MM
- Indiana Pacers: $880MM
- Philadelphia 76ers: $800MM
- Memphis Grizzlies: $790MM
- Milwaukee Bucks: $785MM
- Charlotte Hornets: $780MM
- Minnesota Timberwolves: $770MM
- New Orleans Pelicans: $750MM
For comparison’s sake, Forbes’ 2016 valuations can be found right here.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey said he doesn’t envision the team making any major moves at the deadline, as he tells Calvin Walkins of ESPN.com.
“I think if we do anything, it will be for depth,” Morey said. “I don’t see any big things happening. We got a good thing, a good rotation, good chemistry. I’m pretty reluctant to make any changes there.”
Houston has outperformed expectations this season and Morey wants to keep the core of the team together. However, he didn’t close the door on making a larger trade should the right opportunity present itself.
“It all depends on the opportunities that are out there,” he added. “Until you know what’s out there, it’s hard to say if something will or won’t happen. I think our [goals] going in: Is this a good group? We want to keep it together.”
Morey is pleased with the way the offseason additions have stepped up. He’s also happy with the way Montrezl Harrell and Sam Dekker have been able to develop as players and contribute this season. He believes the team is well suited to fit James Harden‘s strengths, though Morey admitted that he can not take full credit for moving Harden to point guard.
“[Coach Mike D’Antoni] and James really came up with the idea of going from 85 percent on the ball to 100 percent, and it’s great vision for both of them and it’s really worked well.”
Morey added that he always knew Harden could play at this level and he believes the 27-year-old is the clear-cut MVP so far this season. Harden, who received Hoops Rumor’s Midseason MVP, is averaging 28.9 points, 11.3 assists and 8.2 rebounds per game to go along with his 27.2 player efficiency rating this season.
While some players around the NBA are lobbying their respective front offices for roster reinforcements, James Harden told reporters today that he’d be content with the Rockets standing pat at this month’s trade deadline.
“I love what we have, love it,” Harden said, per Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com. “From top to bottom, we have depth. You can throw any guy in there and they know their role, that’s important. I’m going to ride with these guys for sure.”
Harden may be content with Houston’s current 15-man squad, but general manager Daryl Morey is always exploring ways to upgrade his roster, and figures to be busy over the next two weeks. Here’s more from Watkins on avenues the Rockets are exploring:
- The Rockets engaged in serious talks with Atlanta about acquiring Mike Dunleavy, and while those discussions ultimately didn’t result in an agreement, the team remains on the lookout for another shooter, writes Watkins. K.J. McDaniels would have been part of the deal if the Rockets had worked something out for Dunleavy.
- The Rockets would like to add another ball-handler to their roster to take some pressure off of Harden and Patrick Beverley. The club has looked at veteran free agents Mario Chalmers and Jarrett Jack to potentially fill that role, per Watkins.
- According to Watkins, the Rockets have “some interest” in Serge Ibaka, who could provide rim protection, rebounding, and an outside shot, making him a good fit in Houston. The Magic’s asking price for Ibaka is believed to be quite high, however.
- Given how well the club has played, Rockets officials think it will be tricky to make a deal that improves the roster without disrupting team chemistry, says Watkins. Morey has publicly expressed a similar sentiment.
The Rockets have won just six of their last 14 games entering Tuesday’s contest, but coach Mike D’Antoni doesn’t believe the team should make a trade to get itself back on track, as Mark Berman of FOX 26 passes along via Twitter. “I like what I got,” D’Antoni said. “I’m sure [Daryl Morey] is going to do his job. You’re always trying to better the team. I’m real happy with what we have.”
Here’s more from the Southwest:
- Yogi Ferrell nearly signed in Turkey to play for Darussafaka, the team coached by David Blatt, before the Mavs swooped in to sign him to a 10-day deal, Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated writes. The point guard has been impressive for Dallas and the team officially signed him to a two-year deal earlier today.
- Ferrell style of play is a perfect fit for Mavs coach Rick Carlisle‘s system, Fischer writes in the same piece. “You have to attack the rim, you have to know how to score, you have to be a threat on offense, so that it can create not only for yourself and for your teammates as well,” Ferrell said.
- Patrick Beverley was not pleased when Dwight Howard entered the Rockets‘ locker room prior to a game against his former team, David Aldrige of NBA.com relays. “Get Dwight Howard out of our locker room,” Beverley said forcefully, as several witnesses told Aldridge. “I’m serious.” Howard and Beverley were teammates in Houston for three seasons.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey is non-committal toward his team’s activity in this year’s trade deadline, according to a report from Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Morey was unable to give a concrete answer regarding his outlook as February 23rd approaches, claiming to be comfortable with the team’s current structure.
“In some ways being good as we think we are makes it harder to do trades,” Morey said. “We have a rotation that has played very well. It’s hard to add anything that would into create a weakness somewhere else. If you feel the defense needs to improve, you can try to add a defensive player, but that potentially would hurt the offense unless it’s a top, top-level player. Those usually aren’t available.”
The Rockets currently occupy the third seed in the Western Conference, four games behind the Spurs. As Feigen noted, Houston possesses commodities if they choose to pursue a “top-level” player; namely, a first round pick and a pair of second round picks. Aside from an injury to Nene, the Rockets core has remained healthy in 2016/17. Should an injury arise, however, Morey claimed a willingness to stock up on depth.
“It’s hard to judge because it takes two. It’s hard to know. I don’t know if it makes it more or less likely, but the kinds of things you do are different. We are more likely to shore up a spot in case we take an injury. Anything we would do is more likely for depth.”
Hawks center Dwight Howard doesn’t take any extra satisfaction from Thursday’s victory in Houston, writes Fran Blinebury of NBA.com. Howard posted 24 points and 23 rebounds as Atlanta rallied from a big fourth quarter deficit. Afterward, he said he “just wanted to win” and believes things have worked out better for both him and the Rockets since he signed with Atlanta last summer. “I chose this city in free agency and I chose it for a reason,” Howard said of his decision to come to Houston in 2013. “I thought Houston was a great place and I still do think it’s a great place. But the business of basketball, you’ve always got to do what’s best for you and I felt coming home would have been great for my career, being coached by a great coach in Bud [Mike Budenholzer] and playing with certain players on this team. But also just being at home is something I’ve always wanted to do all my life is play in Atlanta. I have that opportunity, so I’ll try to make the best of it.”
- Howard’s departure has turned the Rockets into a happier team, Blinebury notes in a separate story. He and James Harden both wanted to be the team leader during his three years in Houston, Blinebury states, and they had different visions of what the Rockets should do. He adds that Howard was just “marking time” last season and was looking forward to opting out.
- Three Southwest Division teams are possible destinations for former Bucks center Larry Sanders, according to Gery Woelfel of Woelfel’sPressBox. Sanders, who hasn’t played in the NBA since 2014/15, has hired an agent and will meet with teams next week in Miami. A source told Woelfel that the five clubs with the best shot at landing Sanders are the Rockets, Mavericks, Pelicans, Celtics and Timberwolves. Several teams have contacted the Bucks to get more information on Sanders, who is expected to receive about $300K for the rest of the season if he does sign somewhere.
Here are Tuesday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:
- The Grizzlies have assigned Wade Baldwin to their D-League affiliate, the team announced via a press release on their official website. Baldwin has averaged 13.3 points and 5.7 assists in 26.5 minutes per game in 13 previous games for the Iowa Energy.
- The Pistons have recalled Henry Ellenson, Darrun Hilliard and Michael Gbinije from their D-League affiliate, the team announced in a press release. In eight games with the Grand Rapids Drive this season, the rookie big man has averaged 18.8 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
- The Rockets have assigned rookie forward Kyle Wiltjer to the D-League, the team announced today (via Twitter). Wiltjer had been with the NBA club for the last two and a half weeks, but has been inactive in each of Houston’s games, so he should get a chance to play with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
- Joel Bolomboy has been sent back to the Salt Lake City Stars by the Jazz, the team said today in a press release. Bolomboy’s assignments this season generally haven’t lasted long, so the rookie will likely return to the Jazz soon.
- The Nets have assigned Chris McCullough to the D-League, according to a press release from the team. McCullough has played sparingly for Brooklyn this season, but has been one of Long Island’s standout contributors, averaging 19.0 PPG and 8.0 RPG in 25 games.
The Magic have “picked up their attempts” to trade Serge Ibaka before next month’s deadline, league sources tell Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. According to Deveney, Orlando has experienced some “buyers’ remorse” after trading for Ibaka last summer, and the team is looking to get something for him to avoid the risk of losing him for nothing in free agency.
Although Deveney suggests that there’s pessimism about Ibaka re-signing with the Magic this summer, he adds that people around the NBA aren’t sure what the former Oklahoma City big man will do in free agency, which complicates his trade market. Teams would be unwilling to give up a significant return to rent Ibaka for a few months.
“They’re asking too much,” one front office executive said of the Magic, per Deveney. “(The Magic) would probably like to make a few moves there, but Ibaka is the one they’re really pushing because he is going to leave. But they have had too high a price. They want a young player and a pick, two young players — you know, a package that can get them back some assets. They’re not going to get that. Not for three, maybe four months of Serge Ibaka.”
The Magic surrendered their 2016 lottery pick (Domantas Sabonis) along with Victor Oladipo and Ersan Ilyasova when they acquired Ibaka, signaling that they expected the 27-year-old to be a part of the long-term plan. However, the club has struggled this season and appears to be slipping out of playoff contention, with a 19-30 record, reducing the odds of Ibaka wanting to re-sign with Orlando in July.
General manager Rob Hennigan said last week that he expects to be “aggressive” in pursuing ways to improve Orlando’s roster, and addressing the club’s frontcourt logjam would be a good place to start. With Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo joining a group that already featured Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon, there aren’t enough minutes to go around, and Gordon has spent a lot of time playing out of position.
According to Deveney, there’s “no chance” of a trade involving Biyombo, who signed a four-year, $68MM deal last summer. Gordon is also a key part of the Magic’s long-term plan, which leaves Ibaka and Vucevic as possible trade candidates. We heard last week that the Celtics were among the teams to talk to Orlando about Vucevic.
As for Ibaka, even if he’s no more than a rental piece, there should be several teams with interest in talking to the Magic about a deal. Deveney identifies the Celtics, Rockets, and Raptors as a few potential suitors, though he cites a source who says Toronto isn’t very interested in giving up Terrence Ross in a trade for Ibaka.