Isaiah Thomas

Northwest Notes: Noel, Thomas, Favors, Blazers

Five years removed from being drafted No. 6 overall in the 2013 NBA Draft, newly-acquired Thunder big man Nerlens Noel is looking to rehabilitate both his game and reputation in Oklahoma City, writes Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman.

A one-and-done talent at college powerhouse Kentucky, Noel is aware of the rumors surrounding his game – that he’s a talented but unwilling to work – but he’s ready to come out this season and turn things around.

The Thunder are ready for that too, which is why head coach Billy Donovan and All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Paul George all made recruiting pitches to Noel on the first night of free agency.

“I’m excited about having him,” Donovan said. “He’s early in his career, and I know his career probably hasn’t evolved into what he’d hoped when he was a rookie. But he’s still very young, and he’s still got a lot of time to continue to get better.”

Noel has yet to have much of any success at the NBA level so far. He sat out his first season in Philadelphia recovering from injury and then saw his playing time dwindle after the Sixers drafted up-and-coming star Joel Embiid. But now that Noel feels he has a new home where winning is a priority, he is ready to prove his worth.

“You want to be in a situation where you’re wanted on a team that really wants to win,” Noel said. “That means the utmost to me, and that’s what my game is. I don’t think playing on teams that are really headed in the other direction complements me as well or makes me look as good as I might want to.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Armed with deep motivation after having his career curtailed by injury, Nuggets point guard Isaiah Thomas is eager to play for a team who wanted him, reports Christopher Dempsey of Nuggets.com. Thomas, who played for head coach Mike Malone in Sacramento during his breakout season in 2013-14, credits Malone’s trust in him as a key to his continued success.
  • Per Aaron Falk of UtahJazz.comJazz forward Derrick Favors is looking for an increased role on offense next season. During his free agent meeting with Utah’s front office, the two parties spoke about getting Favors more cuts to the basket and playing out of pick-and-roll or dribble-handoffs more often.
  • The Trail Blazers have made a couple of minor roster moves in the past day or so, deciding to retain guard Wade Baldwin and part ways with center Georgios Papagiannis.

Nuggets Sign Isaiah Thomas

JULY 16: The Nuggets have officially signed Thomas, the team announced today in a press release.

JULY 12: The Nuggets will sign free agent guard Isaiah Thomas to a one-year contract, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. He will accept a veteran’s minimum deal (Twitter link) and will join forces with head coach Michael Malone, who previously coached Thomas in Sacramento.

Thomas will have a $2,029,463 salary for the upcoming season, while Denver will absorb a $1,512,601 cap hit.

Thomas will try to rediscover the form that made him an MVP candidate in Boston after a brutal season that saw him traded to the Cavaliers and Lakers. He sat out the first half of the season while recovering from a lingering hip injury, then played just 15 games for Cleveland before being moved. The veteran guard was a controversial figure with the Cavs, facing frequent complaints over his attitude and poor defense.

Thomas’ performance was a little better with the Lakers, but he appeared in just 17 games before undergoing minor hip surgery in March. He has since declared himself fully healed from that procedure.

An opportunity may be waiting in Denver, which could use another scorer after trading Wilson Chandler to the Sixers last week. The Nuggets also didn’t have a ton of backcourt depth behind starting point guard Jamal Murray, so Thomas could be a key contributor and offensive play-maker for the club.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Celtics Notes: Thomas, Rivers, Williams, Henry

Isaiah Thomas is on his third team since being traded from the Celtics, but his role in Boston’s quick turnaround shouldn’t be overlooked, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Thomas, who agreed to sign with the Nuggets this week, helped the Celtics reach the playoffs after coming to the organization in February of 2015, then was part of 48- and 53-win seasons.

That success made Boston an attractive option for free agents Al Horford and Gordon Hayward and put the franchise in a position to trade for Kyrie Irving.

“Isaiah added credibility to our team by making us a legitimate basketball team,” said president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. “And on top of that he was very entertaining. But he was all-in. He was all-in for the team. He was recruiting Al Horford to come. He was recruiting Gordon Hayward to come to play with him. He’s earned a lot of respect in my eyes.”

There’s more Celtics news to pass along:

  • With the three stars of the Lob City era all gone from the Clippers, coach Doc Rivers plans to use the Celtics’ experience as a blueprint for rebuilding, Bulpett writes in a separate story. “They’ve done it as well as it’s ever been done,” Rivers said, “because all these other teams, including us now, everybody has a plan, but the plan has to work. And if it doesn’t work, then you have to start over again with another plan. And Danny and them have been able to run their plan.”
  • The Celtics haven’t given up on the possibility of first-round pick Robert Williams playing in the summer league, according to Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. Williams is getting constant treatment on his aching left knee and is considered questionable for today’s quarterfinal contest. “If Danny wants him to play, if Robert feels he can, if our training staff feels he’s not at risk of reinjuring it, we’d love to have him,” said assistant coach Jay Larranaga. “… He just keeps getting better and better. Who knows when he’ll be able to play, but he does seem to be getting better.”
  • Pierria Henry has been the best point guard on the Celtics’ summer league team, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Washburn expects him to be considered for a spot with Boston’s G League affiliate if he doesn’t return to Turkey.

Eastern Rumors: Parker, Bulls, Bucks, Faried

Amidst speculation that the Bulls are clearing cap room for a major move, multiple reports continue to link Chicago native Jabari Parker to the club.

One NBA executive who spoke to Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times claimed that the Bulls are “most definitely” interested in Parker, while Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago says he thinks “there’s some smoke” to rumors connecting the team to the Bucks‘ restricted free agent. Sources say Parker would like to be a Bull, Goodwill adds (Twitter link).

While it’s possible that the Bulls are gearing up to make a play for Parker, I’m not sure he’s an ideal match for their roster, given that he fits best at the power forward spot. Chicago has already made one big long-term commitment this month by matching Zach LaVine‘s offer sheet with Sacramento. For a team said to be prioritizing cap flexibility going forward, a lucrative offer sheet for Parker would be a surprise, which makes me wonder if the supposed mutual interest is stronger on Parker’s side than on the Bulls’ side.

As we wait to see how Parker’s market plays out, here are a few more notes and rumors from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Within his latest article, Woelfel writes that the Bucks have been exploring possible trades for Matthew Dellavedova and John Henson, but haven’t had any success.
  • The Nets and Kenneth Faried‘s representatives were set to talk this morning to see what the team’s plan is for Faried, per TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter link). There have been no indications yet that Brooklyn plans to buy out Faried — if the team offers him a larger role than the one he had in Denver, he may be happy to stick with the Nets for 2018/19.
  • In a mailbag focusing on the Magic‘s point guard situation, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel reiterates that the team’s interest in Isaiah Thomas was overstated, writing that the front office talked to Thomas’ camp, but never pursued a contract agreement.
  • In order to succeed with the Wizards, newly-signed center Dwight Howard will have to be willing to make some sacrifices for the team, John Wall told Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “He has to buy into that and not try to say it’s all about him or try to do this for himself,” Wall said. “Just do it for the whole team and group and I think we will be fine.”

Magic Likely Done In Free Agency

After re-signing Aaron Gordon to his four-year, $76MM deal, using part of their mid-level exception to reach agreements with rookies Melvin Frazier and Isaiah Briscoe, and adding a reliable backup point guard in Jerian Grant to spell incumbent starting point guard D.J. Augustin, the Magic are likely finished adding players to their roster through free agency this summer, reports Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.

“We’re in a pretty good place with our financial flexibility, all things considered, but the roster is done as we sit here today,” Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman says. “We don’t feel like there are any holes that we need to shore up. We can always get better, and we’ll always be on the lookout for ways to get better. At this point, that would come probably more in the form of a trade if we were to do anything for the remainder of the summer.”

The Magic are currently projected to have a team salary around $110.9MM, assuming the team retains the services of backup guard Rodney Purvis, whose $1.4MM salary is non-guaranteed. Per Robbins, Orlando will also look to fill its open slots for two-way contracts and could bring in additional players on training camp deals.

The statement from Weltman all but puts to rest the speculation surrounding Isaiah Thomas, who was reported to be “negotiating a possible deal” with the Magic last week. Per Robbins, Orlando considered Thomas, but negotiations never took place, as the club believes Augustin is fully capable of leading this year’s squad.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve our roster at every position, but we are in capable hands with D.J.,” Weltman said. “D.J. is a very good player and he’s coming off the best year of his career under trying circumstances. D.J. represents what we want to be about: a professional who prepares, who plays for his teammates and who always brings the same personality to the team irrespective of the highs and lows of the season.”

Weltman also added that newly-acquired center Timofey Mozgov is not currently a candidate to be bought out, despite likely being buried on the depth chart behind Nikola Vucevic and heralded rookie Mohamed Bamba. Rather, the team hopes Mozgov will impact the team off the court through his experience and professionalism.

Should the Magic change their mind and decide to re-enter the free-agent fray, they still have nearly $7MM of their mid-level exception remaining after signing both Frazier and Briscoe to deals exceeding two seasons.

FA Rumors: Jerebko, Warriors, Thomas, Magic, Smart

After being waived by the Jazz today, Jonas Jerebko is already being eyed by the Warriors, among other teams, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, there’s strong mutual interest between Jerebko and Golden State, one of the teams the forward will consider upon clearing waivers.

There’s a possibility that Jerebko won’t make it to free agency, but in order to claim him, a team must have cap room or a trade exception worth $4.2MM. If Jerebko does become a free agent and wants to join the Warriors, he’ll have to settle for the minimum, since the Dubs already committed their taxpayer mid-level exception to DeMarcus Cousins, and won’t have access to the bi-annual exception.

Here are a few more notes and rumors on free agents from around the NBA:

  • According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link), the word in Las Vegas is that the Magic discussed a potential deal with Isaiah Thomas, but are unlikely to complete an agreement at this time, preferring to maintain flexibility to see what other opportunities develop. As Kyler notes, a patient approach to free agency helped net the club Jonathon Simmons last summer after San Antonio eventually withdrew Simmons’ qualifying offer.
  • Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe provides an update on the Marcus Smart situation in Boston, confirming that Smart is frustrated by the negotiations – or lack thereof – with the Celtics so far. However, according to Himmelsbach, the C’s still consider Smart an “integral” part of their future and don’t view the current situation as a “standoff.” Himmelsbach also reports that there’s interest around the league in Smart at a price point of about $9MM per year, but he wants more, and could ultimately sign his $6MM qualifying offer if the offers don’t improve.
  • Tony Parker, who reached an agreement with the Hornets on Friday, tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link) that he received offers from the Spurs and Nuggets before deciding on Charlotte. I’d imagine those other offers didn’t come with the guarantee of as much money and/or as significant a role.
  • ESPN’s Kevin Pelton explores whether Carmelo Anthony – who is headed for a split with the Thunder – would fit best with the Lakers, Heat, or Rockets, three teams said to be interested in his services.

Orlando Discussing Deal With Isaiah Thomas

Free agent guard Isaiah Thomas is working on a deal with the Magic, tweets Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype. Nothing has been finalized, he adds, but both sides would like to reach an agreement.

Thomas’ NBA life has been unsettled since being shipped from Boston to Cleveland in the Kyrie Irving trade last summer. A two-time All-Star with the Celtics, Thomas struggled to find a role with Cavaliers, appearing in just 15 games after returning from a hip injury. He was traded to the Lakers in February and played 17 games there.

The Magic could use some firepower after losing Mario Hezonja to the Knicks and Marreese Speights to China. They have been in the market for a point guard since a midseason trade that sent Elfrid Payton to Phoenix.

Orlando also waived veteran Shelvin Mack in June before his salary for 2018/19 could become guaranteed, leaving D.J. Augustin as the only point guard on the club’s depth chart.

The Magic won’t have cap room available after agreeing to re-sign Aaron Gordon, but could offer Thomas some or all of their mid-level exception.

Lakers Rumors: Lopez, Clarkson, Draft Workouts

Brook Lopez‘s ability to space the floor would make him a good match with the Bucks, according to Frank Urbina of HoopsHype. Lopez’s 3-point shooting would open up the floor for Giannis Antetokounmpo. However, the Bucks are already over the projected salary-cap limit and would thus only be able to offer the unrestricted free agent their non-taxpayer mid-level exception. Other potential landing spots for Lopez if he doesn’t re-sign with the Lakers include the Trail Blazers, who could lose restricted free agent Jusuf Nurkic, and the Nets, his former team.

We have more on the Lakers:

  • Jordan Clarkson‘s struggles in the playoffs make it clear that the Lakers got the best of their trade deadline deal with the Cavaliers, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report opines. Clarkson was benched in Game 3 after making only 23.1% percent of his shots attempts in the first two games and he shot just 30.9% in prior playoff games, Pincus notes. Clarkson also hasn’t been a playmaker, doling out just one assist over the last eight games, Pincus continues. The Lakers also gave up forward Larry Nance Jr. while getting back Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and a first-round pick. The draft pick, plus Thomas’ expiring contract, sets up the Lakers for a potentially momentous summer, Pincus adds.
  • The Lakers will work out mainly second-round prospects on Saturday, according to a team release. Brian Bowen II, Jacob Evans (Cincinnati), Wenyen Gabriel (Kentucky), Tra Holder (Arizona State), Nick King (Middle Tennessee) and Theo Pinson (North Carolina) will pay a visit. Evans is the top-rated prospect in the group, currently ranked No. 29 overall by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.
  • What are the team’s biggest offseason questions? Hoops Rumors’ Luke Adams takes a closer look.

Southwest Notes: Mavericks, Cousins, Trent Jr.

Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News is analyzing, position by position, the top 5 free agent fits for the Mavericks this summer. Today we take a look at his list of point guards, even though he readily admits that the position isn’t one of great need given last year’s pick of Second Team All-Rookie selection Dennis Smith Jr.

In order, from five (worst relative fit) to one (best relative fit), Sefko lists Devin Harris, Elfrid Payton, Isaiah Thomas, Fred VanVleet, and incumbent Yogi Ferrell as the best fits with the Mavericks.

Out of the five, Payton and Thomas seem to me to be the most intriguing selections given that they both will potentially be looking for a starting role this offseason. In regard to Payton, Sefko believes that his lack of shooting ability really negates anything else he can bring to the table for the Mavericks, thereby eliminating his starting potential.

As for Thomas, Sefko sees him as more of a reach to be signed, with the signing possible only if Thomas is willing to come off the bench behind Smith and sign with the Mavericks for less money than he is most likely seeking.

There is more from the Southwest Division:

  • In a non-related tweet, Sefko adds that the Mavericks and head coach Rick Carlisle appear to have their coaching staff set for next season after the hiring of Stephen Silas, with Larry Shyatt, Kaleb Canales, Jamahl Mosley and Darrell Armstrong all expected to return.
  • As part of his Monday Morning Tip mailbag, David Aldridge of TNT answers a fan’s question as to whether Pelicans’ free agent big man DeMarcus Cousins would be willing to sign a one-year deal with a team such as Dallas or Chicago in order to prove himself worthy of a maximum contract next summer.
  • The Spurs will workout Duke freshman guard Gary Trent Jr., reports Darren Wolfson of KSTP-TV. Trent, whose father, Gary Trent Sr., played nine seasons in the NBA, will also work out for the Trail Blazers, Nets, Nuggets, and Bucks.

Southeast Rumors: Thomas, Nored, Whiteside, Hawks

Free agent point guard Isaiah Thomas would be a good fit for the Heat but they probably don’t have the salary-cap space to sign him, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel speculates. Thomas’ ability to score in bunches would boost a team prone to scoring droughts, Winderman continues. But it’s doubtful that a former All-Star coming off an injury-marred season would take a short-term deal, Winderman notes, as the Lakers guard is more likely to pursue what could be his last significant contract.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Hornets will hire Ronald Nored as an assistant coach on James Borrego‘s staff, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. Nored served as the Nets’ G-League head coach this past season.
  • Pat Riley‘s silence over the Hassan Whiteside situation in recent weeks suggests a trade is more likely than reconciliation, Winderman opines in another blog. Though Winderman believes Whiteside and coach Erik Spoelstra would like to find some middle ground, a separation appears to be in order despite the issue of Whiteside’s contract, which has two years and over $52MM remaining. Whiteside was disappointed with his reduced playing time.
  • The Hawks will bring in six prospects for a workout on Tuesday, according to a team press release. That group includes  Carsen Edwards (Purdue), Kyran Bowman (Boston College), Dorian Pickens (Stanford), Kerem Kanter (Xavier), Tremont Waters (LSU) and Kenrich Williams (TCU).