J.R. Smith

Eastern Notes: Nets, Lopez, Heat, Smith

The Nets made a major lineup change for Game 4 against the Sixers, starting Caris LeVert and Jared Dudley in place of DeMarre Carroll and Rodions Kurucs.

It’s an adjustment the team hopes can bring a much-needed spark to the starting group, and it’s a move head coach Kenny Atkinson considered making after a disappointing Game 3 loss on Thursday night.

“Yeah, it’s all open. We have to really look at it,” Atkinson said, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “This is part of the adjustment game, figuring out what they’re doing and how we can counter it. The first part of that is who you’re playing and when you’re playing them. Definitely, we’re back to the drawing board with that.”

Brooklyn has struggled to defend the interior despite not playing against a fully healthy Joel Embiid, losing the rebound battle by an average of 11 per game in the first three contests. Sixers guard Ben Simmons added a triple-double in Game 2 and a 31-point outing in Game 3 to make matters worse for the Nets.

When asked about the possibility of starting LeVert after Game 3, D’Angelo Russell said, “Yes, sure. Add another ball-handler out there, it definitely takes the pressure off me to bring it up and facilitate. I can almost get off it and become a scoring guard as well.”

Whether Atkinson’s sudden adjustment was a good choice will be determined in the coming games, as Brooklyn looks to avoid going down 3-1 in the series on Saturday.

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference today:

  • Malika Andrews of ESPN examines how Brook Lopez modernized his game to thrive with the Bucks this season. Lopez, a two-way center who signed with Milwaukee last summer, fits well alongside the likes of Eric Bledsoe and Giannis Antetokounmpo because of his ability to stretch the floor and shoot threes. Lopez made 187 of his 512 attempts from 3-point range this season (37%), both career-highs. “I always had confidence in myself shooting,” Lopez said. “I believed I could shoot it in NBA games one day, but at this level? This many? No. I didn’t see it.”
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks examines the offseason outlook for the Heat, who ended the 2018/19 season in a disappointing manner when the team missed the playoffs. The Heat are essentially in the same position they were at this time last year, minus the fact that Dwyane Wade has entered retirement.
  • The Cavaliers are expected to re-examine the trade market for guard J.R. Smith, who mutually agreed to part ways with the team this season. “We have a trade chip in J.R. Smith, and his contract, where we can take on some money that other teams are trying to get some cap relief from,” general manager Koby Altman said last week, as relayed by Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “We are actually the only team in the NBA that can provide guaranteed cap relief until July 1. We can guarantee that right now and we actually had a phone call (Thursday) on that trade chip, so, we’re going to keep on being aggressive adding those assets because we do eventually want to consolidate and be really good at some point.” Smith, who turns 34 in September, is set to make $15.6MM next year in the final season of his contract, but most of that money is non-guaranteed.

Cavs Notes: Smith, Coaching Search, Expiring Deals, Draft

Cavaliers GM Koby Altman told reporters Friday that he has already been contacted by a team interested in trading for J.R. Smith, relays Joe Vardon of The Athletic. The interest isn’t so much in Smith as a player – he parted ways with the team in November and only appeared in 11 games this season – but in his contract, which is valued at $14.72MM but carries only a $3.87MM guarantee.

[RELATED: Why J.R. Smith May (Or May Not) Be A Valuable Offseason Trade Chip]

A team looking to unload salary could deal for Smith and be on the hook for just $1.29MM annually if he is waived and stretched over three seasons. The Cavaliers showed a willingness this year to take on unwanted contracts in exchange for draft picks, trading for Brandon Knight, Marquese Chriss, Matthew Dellavedova and Nik Stauskas.

“We are actually the only team in the NBA that can provide guaranteed cap relief from teams or salary relief until July 1,” Altman said. “We can guarantee that right now and we actually had a phone call yesterday on that (Smith) trade chip, so, we’re going to keep on being aggressive adding those assets because we do eventually want to consolidate and be really good at some point.”

There’s more from Cleveland, all courtesy of Vardon:

  • Altman promised an “open-minded” approach to the team’s coaching search and brought up the possibility of making history by hiring a woman for the job. Though he couldn’t mention her by name because she’s under contract, Spurs assistant Becky Hammon is an obvious candidate if Altman wants a female coach. Hammon interviewed for the Bucks’ head-coaching job last year, ran the Spurs’ summer league team and has a player development background, which Vardon states is important to the Cavaliers.
  • Other coaching possibilities that Cavs players mentioned to Vardon include the Nets’ Bret Brielmaier, the Mavericks’ Jamahl Mosley and the Trail Blazers’ Nate Tibbetts. All three have previous experience in Cleveland. Altman said interviews will begin soon with candidates whose teams aren’t in the playoffs.
  • The Cavaliers believe their expiring contracts for next season might generate some interest on the trade market this summer. Knight and Dellavedova will both be free agents in 2020, along with John Henson, Jordan Clarkson and Tristan Thompson.
  • Cleveland won a tiebreaker with the Suns for second place in the draft order heading into next month’s lottery. If they Cavs do wind up with the No. 2 pick, Vardon notes, their view of what type of player Collin Sexton will develop into may determine whether they opt for a point guard in Ja Morant or a wing player in R.J. Barrett.

Why J.R. Smith May (Or May Not) Be A Valuable Offseason Trade Chip

Even though J.R. Smith hasn’t played for the Cavaliers or been with the team since November, he still technically remains under contract with Cleveland. The Cavs explored possible trades before the deadline but couldn’t find anything to their liking. Rather than buying out Smith’s contract after the deadline though, the Cavs held onto him, indicating that they’d try again to move him in the offseason.

There are some good reasons for the Cavaliers to believe they can move Smith this summer, despite the fact that he didn’t look good to start the season and hasn’t appeared in a game in nearly four months. However, there are also a couple reasons why a deal might not be viable that have nothing to do with Smith’s on-court performance.

Let’s take a closer look at the situation…

Smith is a 33-year-old outside shooter who wasn’t shooting particularly well this season (.308 3PT%). He’s also earning $14.72MM. Why would he have positive trade value?

Ironically, the contract that made Smith difficult to move at this year’s trade deadline is the thing that could clear a path to an offseason deal. Once this season ends, a team with interest in trading for Smith wouldn’t have to worry about paying his $14.72MM salary for 2018/19. That club would only have to consider his $15.68MM salary for 2019/20.

How is that better?

That ’19/20 salary is only partially guaranteed for $3.87MM, meaning whichever team ends up with Smith wouldn’t be on the hook for the entire thing. If he’s waived by the end of June, a team could either leave the $3.87MM charge on its cap for 2019/20 or stretch it, spreading it across three years at a rate of $1.29MM annually.

What would be the point of trading for Smith just to waive him?

For teams that don’t necessarily project to have as much cap flexibility as they’d like this offseason, acquiring Smith in exchange for a player with a sizable guaranteed 2019/20 salary represents a fast track to creating that flexibility.

Read more

Bucks Have Interest In J.R. Smith; Buyout Unlikely

The Bucks are among the teams that have some level of interest in J.R. Smith, sources tell Joe Vardon of The Athletic. However, Smith remains under contract with the Cavaliers and an in-season buyout appears unlikely, Vardon adds.

Smith played in just 11 games for the Cavs in 2018/19 before informally parting ways with the team. The 33-year-old said early in the season that he felt as if Cleveland wasn’t trying to win games and expressed a desire to play elsewhere. As a result, he hasn’t appeared in a game since November 19 and has been away from the club, but is still technically under team control after the Cavs failed to find a taker for him at the trade deadline.

While Smith struggled in his limited playing time this season, he’s a career 37.3% three-point shooter and would intrigue some contending teams if he were available at the minimum salary. His current contract situation complicates matters though.

Unlike most players who are bought out by their teams at this time of year, Smith has some guaranteed money on his deal for next season. Only $3.87MM of his $15.68MM salary for 2019/20 is guaranteed, but he probably wouldn’t consider giving up more than about $1MM of the money left on his contract, says Vardon. That doesn’t give the Cavaliers much incentive to make a move, since Smith could still serve as a trade chip this summer.

[RELATED: Why J.R. Smith’s contract could still be a trade asset]

It’s possible that Smith and the Cavs could reach a compromise and agree to a buyout during the season, but time is running out. In order to retain his playoff eligibility for a new team, Smith would have to be waived by Cleveland on or before March 1. That gives the two sides a little over a week to find common ground.

If Smith and the Cavs don’t agree an in-season buyout, he’ll almost certainly be either traded or waived in the offseason, since it’s hard to imagine any scenario in which Cleveland would guarantee his $15MM+ salary for ’19/20.

Buyout Market: Ellington, Kaminsky, Gortat, Smith

The Pistons will be an aggressive suitor for Wayne Ellington once he reaches the buyout market, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The Suns are expected to reach a buyout and waive the shooting guard, whom they just acquired from the Heat. The Thunder are also reportedly interested in Elllington. Detroit is seeking a veteran addition at shooting guard after trading starter and impending free agent Reggie Bullock to the Lakers.
We have plenty more buyout market developments:
  • The Hornets will look to reach a buyout with big man Frank Kaminsky after failing to trade him, Sean Deveney of Sports Illustrated tweets. The little-used Kaminsky is making $3.62MM this season.
  • Veteran center Marcin Gortat is interested in joining the Warriors but Golden State will take a wait-and-see approach regarding the waiver wire and buyout market, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets. Gortat, a starter most of the season, is expected to be waived by the Clippers.
  • The Cavaliers have no plans to discuss a buyout with J.R. Smith and failing to find a trade partner for the shooting guard, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. Smith is making $14.72MM this season but his $15,68MM salary for next season is not guaranteed unless he remains on the roster through June 30th.
  • The Raptors’ flurry of activity, including an agreed-upon trade with the Grizzlies for center Marc Gasol, will make them an active participant in the buyout market, Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post tweets. Toronto will be down to just 10 players on the active roster, plus two two-way players. That means there will be playing time available for free agents that will soon clear waivers.
  • The Celtics do not have an immediate target to fill their open roster spot, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald tweets. Enes Kanter, expected to be bought out by the Knicks as early as today, isn’t believed to be on their radar screen, a source tells Murphy.

Eastern Trade Rumors: Cavs, A. Holiday, Kaminsky, Raps

It has been a busy season on the trade market for the Cavaliers, who entered sell mode early and have moved Kyle Korver, George Hill, and Alec Burks in separate deals over the course of the 2018/19 campaign.

Even after all that action, the Cavaliers may not be done dealing, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, who reports that Cleveland’s front office is still exploring the market in search of a possible home for J.R. Smith. Although the Cavs plan to continue their efforts to move Smith right up until today’s deadline, making a deal is “easier said than done,” a source tells Fedor.

Despite the fact that Smith is on a pseudo-expiring contract, with only $3.87MM of his $15.68MM salary for 2019/20 guaranteed, his $14.72MM cap hit for this season – and the fact that he hasn’t played in an NBA game since mid-November – will be a tough sell. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Smith ultimately ends up on the buyout market after the deadline.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • We’ve heard that the Pacers might be willing to move Cory Joseph and Darren Collison, but it’s their other point guard – rookie Aaron Holiday – who has been a popular target for teams making inquiries, writes J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. Although Indiana initially took those calls, the club has now pulled Holiday off the table and has no plans to deal him this week, a source tells Michael.
  • While the Hornets remain in the mix for Marc Gasol, they’re also still on the lookout for a potential landing spot for Frank Kaminsky, independent of a Gasol deal, tweets Sporting News’ Sean Deveney. Kaminsky, who has played just 41 minutes in Charlotte’s last 23 games, would presumably welcome a change of scenery.
  • Despite some rumors this week involving the Raptors, Mike Conley, and Kyle Lowry, there’s currently no traction on a Toronto deal that would include those players, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca.
  • The Magic and the Bulls are among the clubs that have expressed some level of interest in Clippers point guard Milos Teodosic, according to Orazio Cauchi of Sportando, who hears that a Teodosic trade is still possible. As we heard earlier in the season, the former EuroLeague star also continues to draw plenty of interest from international teams, Cauchi notes.

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.