Pacers Rumors

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/20/20

Here are Monday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the league:

  • The Celtics recalled rookie guard Carsen Edwards prior to their game against the Lakers, the team’s PR department tweets. Edwards has come off the bench in 27 games with Boston this season, averaging 3.2 PPG in 9.9 MPG.
  • The Knicks recalled rookie forward Ignas Brazdeikis from their Westchester affiliate, the team’s PR department tweets. Brazdeikis has appeared in nine games with the NBA club, averaging 1.9 PPG in 5.9 MPG.
  • The Pacers assigned guard Victor Oladipo to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants for a practice, the team tweets. Oladipo is expected to make his long-awaited season debut next week.
  • The Wizards recalled rookie guard Admiral Schofield, the team tweets. Schofield has appeared in 24 games with the Wizards this season but did not play in the team’s win over Detroit on Monday.
  • The Clippers recalled guard Terance Mann from their Agua Caliente affiliate, the team announced today. Mann has played 27 games for the Clippers this season, averaging 1.9 PPG in 8.1 MPG.
  • The Thunder assigned center Justin Patton to the Oklahoma City Blue, according to a team press release. Patton is averaging 12.1 PPG and 8.2 RPG in 23 games with the Blue. He has appeared in five games for the Thunder this season, averaging 1.8 PPG in 4.8 MPG.

Poll: Eastern Conference’s No. 2 Seed

Barring a major second-half swoon, the Bucks won’t give up the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference this season. At 38-6, Milwaukee is on pace to win over 70 games and currently has an eight-game cushion over the next-best team in the conference.

While the race for the top seed in the East may already be over, a fascinating race is developing for the No. 2 spot. With six potential contenders in the conference, the importance of nabbing that second seed shouldn’t be understated. Not only would it set up a first-round matchup against a less dangerous opponents like the Magic or Nets, it would also mean avoiding the Bucks until the Eastern Conference Finals and holding home court advantage for two rounds.

As we enter the second half of the season, the Heat currently hold the second seed, but the margin is extremely tight. Here’s what the standings look like for the five teams vying for the No. 2 seed, entering today’s action:

  1. Miami Heat (29-13)
  2. Toronto Raptors (28-14)
  3. Boston Celtics (27-14)
  4. Indiana Pacers (28-15)
  5. Philadelphia 76ers (28-16)

All five teams are separated by just two games, so one hot or cold streak could have a significant impact on seeding. Just ask the Celtics, who could fall out of the top four tonight for the first time since October if their current losing streak extends to four games.

With a real incentive tied to claiming the No. 2 seed, the second-half race among these five teams should be fascinating. The Raptors finally have a healthy roster, and the Pacers will be getting star guard Victor Oladipo back next week. The Sixers have been shakier than expected all year long, but showed their upside on Christmas Day when they dismantled the Bucks. The Celtics and the Heat are in position to potentially upgrade their rosters at the trade deadline if they so choose.

Of course, we should also consider each team’s second-half schedule. According to Tankathon.com, the Heat, Sixers, and Raptors have three of the NBA’s easiest remaining slates, while the Pacers’ schedule ranks in the middle of the pack and the Celtics’ is the eighth-hardest.

What do you think? Which of these five teams do you like best to finish the season strong and claim the No. 2 seed in the East?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Pacers Notes: Brogdon, Sabonis, Oladipo, Warren

Malcolm Brogdon has taken on the closer’s role in his first season with the Pacers, at least until Victor Oladipo returns, writes Scott Agness of The Athletic. In training camp, it wasn’t clear who might get that designation with nine new players on the roster, but Brogdon, who was acquired from the Bucks in a sign-and-trade, feels comfortable making decisions that will win or lose games.

“It’s a privilege,” he said. “Being the closer, sometimes it’s about making the last shot, but sometimes it’s about making the right play, making the right pass. My teammates, this organization, my coach — they trust me with the ball, and I’m going to continue to make good decisions.”

Indiana is using Brogdon as a full-time point guard, Agness adds, instead of a floor spacer like he was in Milwaukee. As a result, he has eight double-doubles this season after just three in his first three years in the NBA.

“I was hoping for it,” he said of the point guard duties. “Especially with Vic being out, I was hoping I could be that guy, but I knew I had to prove myself. And now that I’ve proven myself, Coach and my teammates allow me to do that and empower me to do that.”

There’s more from Indiana:

  • Doctors don’t believe Domantas Sabonis is risking further injury by playing with a bone bruise in his left knee, Agness relays in a separate story. After he was checked by the team doctor, his representatives had two other specialists examine the knee before any decision was made. “There’s swelling in the bone that all doctors say can’t get worse unless you get hit in that same spot,” he said. “It’s the same thing if I get hit in my healthy knee. There’s the same chance. It’s not a muscle or anything, so by doing more stuff, you can’t technically get it worse.”
  • Oladipo remained in Indiana as the team left for a nine-day road trip, Agness adds in the same piece. He plans to practice with the team’s G League affiliate as he prepares for his season debut January 29.
  • Picking up T.J. Warren in an offseason trade with the Suns has provided a boost for the Pacers’ offense, observes Mark Montieth of NBA.com. Warren is averaging 18.1 PPG and his versatility has made the team more difficult to defend. “He can score any way possible,” Jeremy Lamb said. “Off the dribble. Catch and shoot. Floaters. Threes. Pull-ups. Post-ups. However you want it, he’ll give it to you.”

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/18/20

Here are Saturday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the league:

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/17/20

Here are Friday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the league:

  • The Pacers assigned Alize Johnson and Edmond Sumner to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the team’s PR department tweets. Sumner did not play in the last two Indiana games, while Johnson has appeared in just one NBA game this month.
  • The Spurs recalled forwards Chimezie Metu, Luka Samanic and Keldon Johnson from the Austin Spurs, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets. With Rudy Gay sidelined on Friday, the NBA team was looking for added depth. Metu,  second-round pick in 2018, has appeared in 11 NBA games this season.
  • The Nuggets recalled forward Jarred Vanderbilt from the Windy City Bulls, the team’s PR department tweets. Vanderbilt, a 2018 second-rounder, has appeared in four NBA contests this season.
  • The Clippers assigned Derrick Walton Jr. and Terance Mann to the Agua Caliente Clippers, according to the team’s PR department. Both guards received garbage-time minutes against Orlando on Thursday and did not score.
  • The Warriors assigned rookie forward Alen Smailagic to their Santa Cruz affiliate, the team’s PR department tweets. The second round pick has appeared in nine Warriors games.

Timberwolves Trade Jeff Teague To Hawks

1:32pm: The trade is official, according to press releases issued by the Hawks and Timberwolves.

11:07am: The Hawks and Timberwolves have finalized a trade agreement, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that Atlanta will receive point guard Jeff Teague and swingman Treveon Graham in exchange for wing Allen Crabbe.

Teague, who began his career in Atlanta and spent seven seasons with the Hawks, including his lone All-Star campaign in 2014/15, will help fortify the team’s backcourt and serve as a veteran mentor for rising star Trae Young. He’ll also give the club a reliable floor general when Young sits. As ESPN’s Royce Young notes (via Twitter), Atlanta’s offensive rating this season has plummeted from 108.2 to 90.7 when Young is on the bench.

In 34 games (27.8 MPG) for Minnesota, Teague has averaged 13.2 PPG and 6.1 APG with a .448/.379/.868 shooting line. While those are solid numbers, he wasn’t viewed by the Timberwolves’ new management group as a part of the team’s future plans and had lost his starting job to Shabazz Napier.

Crabbe has struggled in a modest role for the Hawks this season, but has been a reliable three-point shooter throughout his seven-year career. He had knocked down 39.3% of his career outside attempts before making just 32.3% in 2019/20. If he can bounce back in Minnesota – at least to some extent – he’ll help provide the sort of floor spacing that wings like Andrew Wiggins and Jarrett Culver haven’t.

Teague ($19MM) and Crabbe ($18.5MM) are on similar expiring contracts, so swapping the two veterans won’t impact Minnesota’s or Atlanta’s books beyond this season. Graham, who has a $1.65MM minimum-salary contract, will also be a free agent at season’s end. His inclusion helps the Timberwolves save some money while opening up a roster spot for a possible forthcoming move.

According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (via Twitter), Minnesota has been talking to teams around the NBA as they search for another ball-handler, so president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas likely isn’t done dealing. O’Connor reports that the Timberwolves recently pursued Pacers point guard Aaron Holiday, but didn’t get anywhere in those discussions.

The Wolves will create a pair of modest traded player exceptions in this swap. One will be worth Graham’s salary ($1.65MM) while the second will be worth the difference in Teague’s and Crabbe’s cap hits ($500K).

The Hawks, meanwhile, had an open roster spot and are under the salary cap, so acquiring Graham in addition to Teague won’t require any additional moves or cap gymnastics for them.

Atlanta still has big expiring contracts belonging to Chandler Parsons ($25.1MM) and Evan Turner ($18.6MM) if general manager Travis Schlenk wants to make another deal. It’s also worth noting that both Teague and Graham could theoretically be aggregated in a second trade before the deadline since the Hawks are taking them on using cap room.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Checking In On 2020’s Protected First-Round Picks

We’re nearly at the halfway mark of the 2019/20 NBA regular season, with several teams having already played their 41st game. As such, it’s a good time to check in on the traded 2020 first-round picks that have protections on them to get a sense of whether or not those protections will be applied this year.

Of this year’s 30 first-round selections, 10 have been traded, and all 10 have some form of protection on them. In other words, the ’19/20 standings will dictate whether or not those first-rounders actually change hands in 2020.

Here’s our latest look at which of those picks are safe bets to move, which ones will likely be retained, and which ones are still up in the air:

Likely to change hands:

  • Bucks acquiring Pacers‘ pick (top-14 protected)
  • Celtics acquiring Bucks‘ pick (top-7 protected)
  • Nets acquiring Sixers‘ pick (top-14 protected)
  • Thunder acquiring Nuggets‘ pick (top-10 protected)

It’s safe to say at this point that the Pacers (25-15), Bucks (35-6), Sixers (25-16), and Nuggets (27-12) aren’t missing the playoffs this season, which means their traded first-round picks, which range from lottery-protected to top-7 protected, will be on the move.

Currently, the Milwaukee and Denver picks project to fall near the end of the first round, while the Philadelphia and Indiana selections could end up in the late-teens or early-20s, as our Reverse Standings show.

Unlikely to change hands:

  • Grizzlies acquiring Jazz‘ pick (1-7, 15-30 protected)
  • Nets acquiring Warriors‘ pick (top-20 protected)

The Warriors (9-32) keeping their first-round pick is the safest bet on the board. Not only will that first-rounder land within the top 20, but it appears likely to be a top-five selection. Brooklyn will see the value of that asset decline significantly when it’s officially protected this year, receiving a 2025 second-round pick in place of that first-rounder.

Meanwhile, the Jazz (27-12) would have to finish out of the playoffs for the Grizzlies to get their first-rounder this year. That was always unlikely to happen, even before Utah’s recent hot streak. The protections on that pick will roll over to 2021 and will be identical next year (1-7 and 15-30).

Still up in the air:

  • Celtics acquiring Grizzlies‘ pick (top-6 protected)
  • Hawks acquiring Nets‘ pick (top-14 protected)
  • Pelicans acquiring Cavaliers‘ pick (top-10 protected)
  • Sixers acquiring Thunder‘s pick (top-20 protected)

Usually by this point in the season, we have a reasonably clear idea of which draft picks will be protected, but these four first-rounders are still very much up in the air.

The Thunder (23-17) weren’t considered a probable playoff team entering the season, but they’re comfortably holding the seventh seed in the West for now and project to have the No. 18 pick. Another winning streak or two could move that pick outside the top 20, which would be good news for the Sixers. If the pick is protected this year and Oklahoma City keeps it, Philadelphia would instead receive second-rounders in 2022 and 2023.

Like OKC, the Grizzlies (18-22) are defying modest expectations and hold one of the final playoff spots in the West. If they keep playing like this, there’s no chance their pick will end up in the top six, so it would be sent to the Celtics. But if Memphis doesn’t make the playoffs, there’s always a chance the lottery could push that selection into the top four, where the Grizzlies would keep it. In that scenario, Memphis would owe Boston its unprotected 2021 first-round pick.

The Nets (18-20) are the eighth seed in the East for the time being, and would send their lottery-protected to Atlanta as long as they hang onto a playoff spot. The Hawks would be happy for the Nets to stay where they are, resulting in the No. 16 overall pick. If Brooklyn slips out of the playoff picture and hangs onto its protected first-rounder, Atlanta would almost certainly receive a less valuable pick in 2021 when Kevin Durant returns and makes the Nets a more dangerous team.

Finally, it may seem safe to assume that the Cavaliers (12-28) will keep their top-10 protected pick, but we’re not writing that in pen yet. Even though the Cavs currently have the NBA’s fourth-worst record, only 3.5 games separate them from the 15-24 Timberwolves, who are the league’s 11th-worst team. I expect Cleveland to continue losing as the team shops its veterans, but there are enough bad teams in the NBA that hanging onto their pick can’t quite be considered a lock.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/12/20

Here are Sunday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA G League:

Central Notes: Sampson, Turner, Giannis, Beilein

The Pacers have been able to weather a series of injuries because of surprising contributions from players such as JaKarr Sampson, writes J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. Now with his fifth NBA team, Sampson didn’t create much fanfare when he signed with Indiana in August. He’s averaging just 4.9 points per game, but his other contributions have helped make up for the loss of Thaddeus Young in free agency.

“You can’t look at a stat sheet for guys like him,” teammate Myles Turner said of Sampson. “He brings so much more to the game. Intensity. We feed off his energy.”

Sampson is suddenly getting an opportunity after missing 22 games with a back injury. He played 20 minutes Friday night after finding out 10 minutes before the game that he was starting because Domantas Sabonis had to sit out with a sore knee.

“I know I’m able to play this game at the highest level,” Sampson said. “I knew what I was walking into when I came to this team. They have two great players at the 4 and 5 (Sabonis and Turner).”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers are turning down trade requests for Turner, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN. Indiana has a lot of money invested in Turner and Sabonis, but wants to see how the team responds once Victor Oladipo returns from injury before considering a move.
  • The Bucks don’t seemed bothered by continued speculation about Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s future, tweets Eric Woodyard of ESPN. “I think the team’s been incredibly focused, he’s been incredibly focused just on each day, getting better, competing with his group and being respectful of what we’re doing now,” coach Mike Budenholzer said.
  • Cavaliers players are eager to move past the latest John Beilein controversy, relays Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. In comments that he later apologized for, the coach caused a stir this week when he said his team was “no longer playing like a bunch of thugs” when he meant to say “slugs.” “He says it all the time, so it’s all good,” Collin Sexton said. “He calls us slugs, because we slow. But it’s good. We knew what he meant, just blown out of proportion.”

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/11/20

Here are Saturday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA: