J.R. Smith

Rockets Notes: House, Paul, J.R. Smith, Anthony

The Rockets have opened talks on a standard contract for Danuel House, who will soon run out of NBA days on his two-way deal, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. House sat out Thursday’s practice to keep from using up another day, but will reach his limit if he plays in the team’s next three games.

House came to Houston in late November when the team was low on players because of injuries. He was waived December 4 to open a roster spot so the Rockets could sign two-way player Gary Clark to a standard contract. House re-signed on his current two-way deal after clearing waivers two days later.

He has since earned a spot in the starting lineup and is averaging 8.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game while shooting .367 from 3-point range. Feigen notes that the urgency to get a deal done with House might be lessened by James Ennis‘ recent return from a hamstring injury and Eric Gordon‘s expected return next week. If House doesn’t agree to a new contract and the Rockets don’t decide to convert his current deal, he will have to remain with the team’s affiliate in Rio Grande until the G League season is over.

There’s more today from Houston:

  • House’s ability to learn quickly has helped the Rockets turn around their season, Feigen writes in a separate story. He had played in just 24 NBA games prior to this year, but coach Mike D’Antoni has been impressed with House’s ability to adjust his game on the fly. “The coaching staff tells him something and he puts it into his game,” D’Antoni said. “That’s unique. It’s not easy to be able to do that and just put it in your game and not think about it, because if you think and play at the same time, it’s hard. It has to become natural and he does that.”
  • Chris Paul has intensified his workouts, but the estimate of a late January return from a strained hamstring hasn’t changed, Feigen reports in another piece. “We’re going to be careful with him,” D’Antoni said. “… Obviously, we’re a lot closer to the end than the beginning. We’ll bring him back at an opportune time.”
  • The Rockets are the only team to express any interest in trading for Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith, according to Sam Amico of AmicoHoops, who says they would insist that Cleveland take Carmelo Anthony as part of any deal.

Dinwiddie Extension Good News For Rozier, Russell?

League executives at last week’s G League Showcase in Las Vegas were “raving” about the Nets‘ deal to lock up Spencer Dinwiddie to a three-year, $34.3MM extension, comparing it to the Clippers‘ three-year, $24MM agreement with Lou Williams, writes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider-only link).

According to Marks, two teams he spoke to in Vegas had Dinwiddie ranked as the third-best point guard in the 2019 free agent class before he signed his extension, placing him behind only Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker. That would have put Dinwiddie ahead of younger players like Terry Rozier (Celtics) and D’Angelo Russell (Nets), both of whom are on track for restricted free agency.

Rozier and Russell should benefit from Dinwiddie’s deal, since it takes one of 2019’s top FA point guards off the board and could create additional competition for their services. According to Marks, league execs in Vegas last week identified the Magic and Suns as probable suitors for Rozier and Russell, though the Celtics and Nets will have the upper hand until an offer sheet is on the table.

Here’s more from Marks:

  • Teams are monitoring Markelle Fultz, not just to keep an eye on his health and future, but also to see how Fultz’s status will impact Sixers teammate T.J. McConnell, according to Marks. McConnell is headed for unrestricted free agency and is unlikely to get an in-season extension if Philadelphia intends to maximize its 2019 cap room. McConnell could command a salary in the $5-7MM range, Marks notes.
  • Teams around the NBA believe there could be a strong group of buyout candidates available later this season. According to Marks, the veteran players that clubs are keeping an eye on include Carmelo Anthony, Robin Lopez, Zach Randolph, Anthony Tolliver, Enes Kanter, Kenneth Faried, Jerryd Bayless, Iman Shumpert, Kosta Koufos, Alec Burks, J.R. Smith, and Jabari Parker. Some of those vets may be traded and some figure to remain with their current teams, but I could definitely see several of them ending up on the buyout market.

Charania’s Latest: Kings, Mavs, Simmons, Celtics

The Kings were identified earlier this month as a probable buyer on the trade market, but rival executives don’t sense any urgency to make major changes in Sacramento, writes Shams Charania of The Athletic. At 18-16 so far this season, the Kings are ahead of schedule in their rebuilding process and are essentially “playing with house money” at this point, Charania notes.

With a handful of veterans on expiring contracts and about $11MM in cap room available immediately, the Kings are in a good position to make a move if they so choose. However, it sounds unlikely that Iman Shumpert – one of those veterans on an expiring contract – will be going anywhere. De’Aaron Fox has credited Shumpert for bringing leadership and championship experience to Sacramento, writes Charania.

Here’s more from Charania:

  • The Mavericks want to improve their roster and are “open for business,” according to Charania, who reiterates that teams around the NBA are monitoring Dennis Smith Jr. We heard earlier this week that Dallas has gauged the market on Smith.
  • Rival teams believe Magic swingman Jonathon Simmons will be among the players available on the trade market this season, per Charania. A previous report indicated that Orlando would probably prefer to move Simmons instead of Terrence Ross.
  • Major in-season changes are unlikely in Boston, since trading a player like Terry Rozier or Jaylen Brown for a draft pick wouldn’t help the Celtics win now. As Charania details, the C’s may re-evaluate their roster closer to the deadline, but the club is unlikely to cash in any major assets until at least the 2019 offseason.
  • The Rockets have had discussions about Hawks wing Kent Bazemore, who is expected to draw interest from multiple contending teams, according to Charania.
  • Several teams have inquired with the Bulls about Justin Holiday, league sources tell Charania.
  • Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith is known to be on the trade block, but clubs with interest in Smith are monitoring the situation to see whether he’ll end up on the buyout market, Charania writes.
  • Charania wonders if the Grizzliesdecision to make Chandler Parsons a healthy inactive will eventually lead to a standoff between the player and the team.

Pelicans Have Trade Targets In Mind

As we relayed just last week, the Pelicans are among a handful of teams who have been active prospective buyers on the trade market so far this season. Additional details have emerged from Jordan Brenner of the Athletic, who notes that the Pels are primarily interested in obtaining a long, defensive-oriented swingman/small forward before the trade deadline.

Some of the names that Brenner hears as potential targets in New Orleans from conversations with team executives, scouts and an assistant coach are the Pistons’ Stanley Johnson, Bulls’ swingman Justin Holiday, Hawks’ swingman Kent Bazemore, Nets’ veteran DeMarre Carroll, and even J.R. Smith – players who can knock down open threes and use their length on defense. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders also adds Lakers’ trade candidate Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to that list.

And while none of these players may push the Pelicans to the next echelon of NBA teams, a trade for one of them would at least represent progress as the front office stares into the possibility of losing Anthony Davis to free agency or a trade demand if they do nothing.

Right now, the Pelicans have E’Twaun Moore and Solomon Hill playing the 3, but while Moore is vastly undervalued and on a team-friendly contract, he’s only 6’4” and not a viable small forward defensively. As Brenner notes, New Orleans has acknowledged as much by moving Moore to the bench and giving Hill another run in the starting lineup. But Hill has not shown he’s a capable piece moving forward either.

Unfortunately for the Pelicans, they have few assets to offer in any trade. Hill’s contract runs through 2020, Wesley Johnson and Darius Miller are on expiring deals but are only making $6.1MM and $2.2MM, respectively, and young assets like Cheick Diallo and Frank Jackson haven’t shown enough promise to net a real return.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Sits Atop Rockets’ Wishlist

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the Rockets‘ top trade target as they look for wing help, Marc Stein of The New York Times reports in his latest newsletter. KCP can veto any trade as a result of signing a one-year deal with the Lakers, but Stein hears that the shooting guard would agree to a deal that sends him to Houston.

Caldwell-Pope was involved in trade discussions between the Suns and Lakers over the weekend with L.A. looking to deal KCP to Phoenix for Trevor Ariza. Another proposal had the shooting guard going to Houston in a four-way trade that sent Ariza to the Lakers, Jeremy Lin to the Suns and a package of Brandon Knight and first-rounder to Atlanta. Phoenix wasn’t impressed with either deal and Ariza was sent elsewhere.

The Rockets have been on the lookout for wing help for some time, expressing exploratory interest in J.R. Smith earlier this month. Stein adds that Smith is “somewhere further down” on the Rockets’ wishlist.

Rockets Have Expressed ‘Exploratory’ Interest In J.R. Smith

The Rockets have expressed “exploratory” interest in acquiring veteran shooting guard J.R. Smith, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times (Twitter link). We relayed last week that both the Rockets and Pelicans had expressed interest in Smith’s services.

Smith, 33, is currently away from the Cavaliers as they try to find a suitable trade partner. The Rockets are in the midst of a similar situation as Carmelo Anthony is currently on the roster but away from the team as both sides seek a resolution. We noted last month that Houston is seeking wing help.

The former NBA champion Smith has been vocal in his quest to be traded from Cleveland all season as he did not believe the team’s goal is to win games.

I don’t think the goal is to win. The goal isn’t to go out there and try to get as many wins as you can,” Smith said in November. “I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan.”

With the departure of LeBron James this past summer, the Cavaliers seemed intent to compete for the postseason regardless. Cleveland even inked Kevin Love to a massive extension, but entering play on Monday, the Cavaliers sport a 6-20, tied for second-worst in the Eastern Conference.

While it’s clear the Cavaliers want to move on from Smith, his contract — which includes a $14.72 MM cap hit makes that proposition difficult. Also, in just 11 games this season, Smith posted career-lows with 6.7 PPG and .342 FG%. However, Smith does have considerable postseason experience and he would not be a long-term risk as he has just a $3.87MM guarantee on his $15.68MM salary for 2019/20.

Cavaliers Notes: Smith, Dellavedova, Hill, Sexton

The Cavaliers have traded veterans George Hill and Kyle Korver in the past two weeks, and J.R. Smith appears to be the next priority, tweets Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. The Rockets and Pelicans have expressed interest in Smith, according to O’Connor, who notes that both teams need to fortify their wing depth.

Smith hasn’t played since an “amicable” breakup with the Cavs on November 20, and his representatives are working with the team to find a trade. He fell victim to a youth movement in Cleveland and saw his playing time cut to about 20 minutes per night in the 11 games he has gotten into this season.

In addition to his considerable playoff experience, Smith’s contract beyond this season could make him attractive to a contender. He has just a $3.87MM guarantee on his $15.68MM salary for 2019/20, so there is limited long-term risk in acquiring him.

There’s more today out of Cleveland:

  • The Cavaliers who played alongside Matthew Dellavedova during his first stint in Cleveland are thrilled to welcome him back, relays Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Reacquired from the Bucks in the Hill trade, Dellavedova was admired by his teammates for his intensity and competitiveness. “I think of his toughness and his ability to change the pace of the game and his familiarity,” Channing Frye said. “He’s a champion, consummate professional, good for our locker room.”
  • Coach Larry Drew’s decision to put Hill back into the starting lineup when he returned from a shoulder injury may have helped raise his trade value, Fedor suggests in the same piece. Drew has been experimenting with rookie guard Collin Sexton in an off-the-ball role and wanted Hill beside him to run the offense. The move showed the Bucks that Hill was fully healed and able to contribute.
  • Dellavedova will inherit Hill’s role as Sexton’s mentor, Fedor writes in a separate story. Those who remember Dellavedova’s spirited practice sessions with Kyrie Irving expect Sexton to get the same experience. “He will be good for Collin on the days that we do practice, he will be good for Collin because of the way he plays, how scrappy he is,” Tristan Thompson said. “When he gets in, it’s those kinds of plays that he makes, it’s momentum swings and high energy so we will definitely embrace that.”

Cavaliers Willing To Accept Long-Term Salary In Trades

As the Cavaliers look to unload some of their expensive veterans, they have informed teams that they will take on long-term salary in exchange for other assets, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

With LeBron James gone and the playoffs seemingly out of reach, Cleveland has no interest in holding onto large contracts that will keep the organization near the luxury tax. The Cavs have already informally parted ways with J.R. Smith as they search for a taker for his $14.72MM salary, and several other players could be moved before the February 7 trade deadline.

Kyle Korver, who remains a dangerous 3-point shooter at age 37, should attract the most attention, according to Windhorst. Korver is shooting 46% from beyond the arc and is averaging 6.8 PPG. He is making $7.56MM with a $7.5MM salary for next season that won’t be guaranteed until July.

George Hill, who makes $19MM this season but only has a $1MM guarantee on his $18MM salary for 2019/20, will also be in demand, Windhorst adds. Hill is sidelined with a shoulder injury, but put up good numbers before being hurt. Channing Frye, who makes a modest $1.5MM but has only appeared in three games, is another candidate to go.

Windhorst notes that owner Dan Gilbert conducted a similar selloff when James left the team in 2010. The assets he collected in that process enabled him to bring in Kevin Love and some other valuable pieces when James returned four years later.

J.R. Smith No Longer With Cavaliers

12:39pm: The Cavaliers have officially confirmed that Smith will no longer be with the team as the club and Smith’s reps work to resolve his situation. Within their press release, the Cavs thanked Smith for his contributions to the franchise, including his role in the 2016 championship.

12:21pm: Veteran guard J.R. Smith will no longer be actively with the Cavaliers, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic (Twitter links), who reports that Smith will work out on his own going forward. Smith’s camp and the Cavs are working together to find a trade, Vardon says, adding that a buyout is not a consideration at this point. Vardon describes the breakup as “amicable.”

The Cavaliers reportedly gave Smith the opportunity to take time away from the club earlier in the season, but he turned down the offer at the time — it seems he has reconsidered it now. This development doesn’t come as a huge surprise after Smith made comments suggesting that the Cavs weren’t trying to win, and that he didn’t want to be part of a team if its goal wasn’t “to compete, to win.”

Smith had been a regular part of Cleveland’s rotation over the last couple weeks, but played just six minutes in Monday’s loss to the Pistons. It appears those will be his last minutes for the team for a while – perhaps ever – as he’ll be pulled from the rotation for the third time this season. The Cavaliers have been somewhat indecisive so far in 2018/19 about whether to play their veterans or focus on developing their young prospects, but they appear to be moving more and more toward the latter path.

While Smith is very much on the market, it won’t be easy for the Cavs to find a trade partner. The 33-year-old is off to a very poor start to the season, with just 6.7 PPG on .342/.308/.800 shooting in 11 games (20.2 MPG). He’s also earning a $14.72MM salary in 2018/19.

On the plus side, while Smith remains under contract for one more year beyond this season, his 2019/20 salary, worth $15.68MM, is only partially guaranteed for $3.87MM, so it’d be relatively inexpensive to cut him loose at season’s end.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

J.R. Smith Wants Trade From Cavs, Resisting Buyout

Nearly three weeks after he first confirmed that he’d welcome a trade out of Cleveland, J.R. Smith continues to seek a deal, having asked twice to be moved, according to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. The veteran guard made it clear during a conversation with Lloyd that he doesn’t believe the Cavaliers are interested in winning, and doesn’t want to play for a team that’s not trying to win.

“I don’t think the goal is to win. The goal isn’t to go out there and try to get as many wins as you can,” Smith said. “I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan.”

Asked if he’s interested in being part of the rebuilding process in Cleveland, Smith replied, “Not if the goal isn’t to compete, to win.”

The Cavaliers insisted throughout the offseason, even as LeBron James headed to Los Angeles, that they still believed they could compete in the Eastern Conference — if not for a spot in the Finals, then at least for a playoff berth. Shortly after the regular season got underway, the Cavs seemingly shifted gears and started to focus on developing young players like Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman. However, in the view of vets like Smith and George Hill, that was probably the plan even before the season started.

“I think it re-calibrated before Game 1 was even played,” Hill said of the club’s outlook for 2018/19. “In the summer, it felt like politically you have to say we can still do these things because you want everyone to buy in to being here. Once everybody is here, I don’t know. The directions change.”

While the Cavs would probably have just as much interest as Smith in a deal that sends him elsewhere, his contract – which includes a $14.72MM cap hit for this season – isn’t favorable, especially given his slow start (his 6.7 PPG and .342 FG% would be career lows). Lloyd suggests that if Smith were willing to surrender some of the guaranteed money left on his deal, a buyout would be an option, but the 33-year-old has refused to go down that road so far.

“I don’t want my legacy to be remembered like that in Cleveland,” Smith said of a buyout. “I don’t think that’s fair to the people I see every single day walking around the arena. I don’t think that’s fair to the trainers or equipment guys. … I just look at it differently than being traded. I don’t like the statement of getting bought out.”

The Cavs figure to continue exploring the trade market for Smith in the coming weeks and months. If they can’t find a suitable deal by the February 7 deadline, perhaps Smith would become more inclined to negotiate a buyout in an effort to join a contender.