Jalen Brunson

Pincus’ Latest: Pacers, Mavs, Cavs, Blazers, Hawks, Avdija

As they weigh their options on the trade market in the next few weeks, the Pacers will be seeking shooting and players who fit head coach Rick Carlisle‘s system, sources tell Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.

As Pincus observes, this could make the Mavericks an intriguing trade partner for the Pacers. Reports have indicated that Dallas has interest in Myles Turner, and Carlisle may value some of his former players more than other teams would. According to Pincus, several rival executives had considered the Mavs the favorites to land Turner using a package that includes Dwight Powell as a salary-matching piece, plus either Jalen Brunson and/or Dorian Finney-Smith.

Turner’s health complicates matters, however. The Pacers’ big man is expected to be sidelined through the February 10 trade deadline due to a foot injury, which will likely temper enthusiasm among his potential suitors. Additionally, league sources tell Marc Stein (Twitter link) that the Mavericks have recently backed off their pursuit of Turner as their defense has moved into the NBA’s top five.

While Turner may no longer be a top target, it’s still possible the Mavericks will consider moving Brunson or Finney-Smith for a roster upgrade, especially if they’re concerned about their ability to sign either player this summer, when they’ll reach unrestricted free agency. According to Pincus, there’s a sense around the league that Finney-Smith probably won’t get more than the full mid-level exception, whereas Brunson is “believed by many” to be seeking a four-year, $80MM deal.

Here’s more from Pincus:

  • Rival teams don’t get the sense that the Cavaliers are making Isaac Okoro or Kevin Love readily available, Pincus says. That doesn’t mean that either player – especially Love – is untouchable, but it sounds like they’re not being actively shopped.
  • There’s an expectation that the Trail Blazers will pursue deals that help them shed a few million dollars in salary to get under the luxury tax line, according to Pincus, who suggests Robert Covington, Jusuf Nurkic, and even Larry Nance Jr. are among Portland’s potential trade candidates. The Blazers gave up a first-round pick for Nance last summer.
  • Some executives around the NBA believe the Hawks acquired a first-round pick from New York in the Cam Reddish trade in an effort to improve a potential offer for Sixers star Ben Simmons, writes Pincus. Philadelphia wasn’t interested in Reddish, Pincus adds.
  • Multiple teams have interest in Wizards forward Deni Avdija, per Pincus. If Washington looks to upgrade its roster, it’s safe to assume Avdija is someone potential trade partners will ask about.

Knicks Notes: Reddish, Brunson, Randle, Walker

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau met with newly acquired Cam Reddish on Saturday and told him that playing time will have to be earned, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Knicks didn’t part with any rotation pieces in the Thursday trade that brought Reddish to New York, sending out only Kevin Knox and a draft pick, so Reddish will have to supplant someone else to get his minutes.

Reddish is still dealing with a sprained ankle, so there’s no firm timetable for him to make his debut with the Knicks. Once he’s ready, it sounds like he will have to stand out in practice before being placed into the rotation.

“You don’t lock into one player, you lock into our team,’’ Thibodeau said. “So it’s not just Cam’s development or just (Immanuel Quickley’s). It’s everyone’s development. I’m looking forward to working with Cam. Practice is important to me. You have to earn what you get, it’s that simple.’’

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • Executives around the league believe the Reddish trade may eventually lead to an even bigger deal, Berman states in a separate story. Sources tell him that the front office has already contacted the Mavericks about Jalen Brunson and has reached out to the Pistons about Jerami Grant and the Pacers about Myles Turner. The Knicks are particularly interested in Brunson, whose father Rick has served as an assistant coach under Thibodeau and was the first client for team president Leon Rose when he became an agent.
  • The Knicks may be more willing to part with Julius Randle, who is having an uneven season after winning Most Improved Player honors last year, Berman adds. Randle may not be suited for the role of team leader, Berman suggests in the wake of a public dispute with fans last week. Rumors that John Collins may be available could spark another trade with the Hawks.
  • Kemba Walker has now missed eight games after feeling pain in his left knee during warmups and didn’t make the trip to Atlanta for Saturday’s contest, notes Steve Popper of Newsday“It’s a one-game trip,’’ Thibodeau said. “We thought it would be better, don’t get on the plane, stay at the practice facility, get your treatment, get your workout, get a much better workout there. Because it’s a one-day thing, we just thought it made more sense that way.”

Trade Rumors: Finney-Smith, Pacers, Mavs, Grant, Howard, Lillard, Harris

Following up on Michael Scotto’s report that stated teams around the NBA are eyeing Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report says Rick Carlisle was considered Finney-Smith’s “biggest advocate” in Dallas, adding that the Pacers are considered a possible suitor for that reason.

According to veteran reporter Marc Stein, the Mavericks have been trying to get in the mix for Pacers center Myles Turner or Hawks forward John Collins. Dallas may need to part with at least one of Jalen Brunson and Finney-Smith in such a deal — Stein suggests those two 2022 free-agents-to-be have “no shortage of suitors” around the NBA.

However, Stein also points out that in order to make a major move, Dallas may need to find a taker for Tim Hardaway Jr. While Hardaway’s $21MM salary makes him the Mavericks’ most logical salary-matching piece if they make a play for someone like Turner ($18MM) or Collins ($23MM), his production has dipped to 14.5 PPG on .395/.328/.747 shooting through 35 games (30.6 MPG) this season.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the league:

  • Although Jerami Grant has frequently been cited as a trade candidate in recent weeks, Marc Stein says the Pistons forward isn’t a lock to be on the move. General manager Troy Weaver remains a “staunch backer” of Grant, and there’s a sense he may prefer to hang onto the 27-year-old. However, vice chairman Arn Tellem also has a significant voice in personnel moves, so the decision isn’t just up to Weaver.
  • Jake Fischer adds Dwight Howard to the list of minimum-salary Lakers veterans who are thought to be on the trade block. DeAndre Jordan and Kent Bazemore are also part of that group.
  • The Trail Blazers had zero intention of trading Damian Lillard prior to his abdominal surgery and still has no desire to trade him going forward, sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe.
  • Noting that Gary Harris has had a nice bounce-back season for the Magic, Lowe says contending teams have inquired about the veteran wing as a trade candidate or possible buyout signing. A previous report stated Orlando is seeking a first-round pick in exchange for Harris, but I’m not sure that’s realistic, given his $20MM+ expiring contract, unless the Magic take on some unwanted long-term money.

Reddish Trade Notes: Other Offers, Details, Grades, More

The Hawks traded Cam Reddish, Solomon Hill and 2025 second-round pick to the Knicks in exchange for Kevin Knox and a protected first-round pick on Thursday. According to Ian Begley of SNY.tv, the Hawks were interested in acquiring Quentin Grimes, but the Knicks were reluctant to part with the rookie, who was the 25th overall pick of the 2021 draft.

The Knicks are likely to explore other trades ahead of the deadline and are known to be interested in Myles Turner and Jalen Brunson, Begley reports. He mentions that any player on New York’s roster could be on the table for the right return, pointing to Alec Burks and Mitchell Robinson as players who could draw interest, but the Knicks would likely want a top-end starter in return for Burks and/or Robinson.

Teams pursuing Reddish believed he could command a salary in the range of $18-20MM per year on his next contract, whether it be this summer in an extension or as a restricted free agent in the summer of 2023, so Begley thinks the Knicks must be open to that figure, unless they plan to trade him again in the future.

Here’s more on the trade between Atlanta and New York:

  • Atlanta had been seeking a first-round pick for Reddish for several months and never wavered in its asking price, write Fred Katz and Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. The Pacers, Cavaliers, Pistons, and Lakers were among the teams interested in Reddish, with L.A. recently offering two second-round picks for the third-year wing.
  • Reddish requested a trade from Atlanta months ago, which led to awkwardness in the team’s locker room, and it was inevitable he would be dealt once a team met Atlanta’s asking price, according to Katz and Kirschner. Reddish was reportedly unhappy with his role as a spot-up shooter and desired more play-making opportunities, which is questionable given he has more turnovers than assists in his career. It’s unclear how he’ll fit in with the Knicks, who have a crowded rotation when healthy, meaning finding more minutes than Reddish was getting in Atlanta (23.4 MPG) could be a challenge. Katz and Kirschner believe the first-round pick Atlanta acquired could be used in a subsequent trade, perhaps for Ben Simmons or Jerami Grant.
  • Zach Harper of The Athletic and Kevin Pelton of ESPN (Insider link) provide their grades for the trade. They both liked it more for the Knicks than the Hawks.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic thinks that the trade is in the eye of the beholder, because while Reddish has the size and talent to be a good NBA player, the idea of him has been better than his actual play to this point in his career. The winner of the deal will ultimately depend on how Reddish develops, Hollinger notes. He adds that Hawks were -10.0 points per 100 possessions with Reddish on the court, compared to +5.7 per 100 when he was off.
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (video link) provides his thoughts on the deal, essentially saying it’s a low-risk, potentially high-reward for the Knicks, but the Hawks got fair value for Reddish too.
  • Sources tell Marc Berman of The New York Post (Twitter link) that Reddish and RJ Barrett didn’t get along well at Duke, and some in the Knicks’ front office wanted to trade back to draft Reddish in 2019.

Atlantic Notes: J. Harris, Knicks Trade Targets, Raptors, T. Harris

Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris still isn’t practicing yet after undergoing ankle surgery at the end of November, as Brian Lewis of the New York Post relays. There was a report last week indicating Harris was close to returning to practice and could return to games within a couple weeks, but that seems less likely based on Lewis’ update. Coach Steve Nash says Harris isn’t cleared for all activities.

Yeah so I think he’s … he’s not full [ramp-up mode],” Nash said. “He’s not fully cleared to do everything yet. He’s got to get back to that, and he’s got to get his high-intensity stuff in. So, he’s not there yet.”

Here’s more from the Atlantic:

  • The Knicks are among the teams interested in Hawks wing Cam Reddish, per Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Begley also points to Myles Turner and Jalen Brunson as players the Knicks are known to be interested in.
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic believes the Raptors should be looking at acquiring a wing shooter prior to the trade deadline in order to shore up a weak spot in the roster.
  • Chris Boucher has improved over the course of the season and his strong play has helped the Raptors go 6-1 over their past seven games. Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes that Boucher is learning his role is to provide energy and effort no matter how many minutes he receives. “He’s accepted whatever is there for playing time, whatever the lineup is, he’s accepted it with energy,” coach Nick Nurse said. “He’s played hard. There haven’t been a ton of offensive attempts, and that doesn’t seem to bother him either. He just keeps going and playing. He’s been really impactful.” Boucher is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
  • Sources tell Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter) that Sixers forward Tobias Harris has been playing through right shoulder bursitis and bicep tendinitis. Harris said he’s been dealing with shoulder soreness since a game against Utah, and that it’s an “irritating” type of pain rather than something severe, but it has been aggravated multiple times since original incident, tweets Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice.

Mavs Confident About Retaining Jalen Brunson Beyond 2021/22

Mavericks officials continue to express confidence behind the scenes about the team’s ability to lock up guard Jalen Brunson beyond the 2021/22 season, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack report.

Brunson was the 33rd overall pick in the 2018 draft, selected 30 spots after Dallas drafted Luka Doncic. He obviously hasn’t followed Doncic’s path to superstardom, but Brunson is viewed as one of the NBA’s best second-round picks of the last few years. In 17 games (29.2 MPG) so far this season, the fourth-year point guard is averaging 15.1 PPG, 5.3 APG, and 4.4 RPG, all of which would be career highs.

Unlike most second-rounders who sign four-year contracts, Brunson didn’t get a team option on the final year of his deal, which means Dallas didn’t have the ability to make him a restricted free agent following his third season. Instead, the former Villanova standout is on track to reach unrestricted free agency in 2022.

Brunson is extension-eligible, so the Mavs could theoretically sign him to a new contract before he becomes a free agent. However, restrictions on veteran extensions will limit Dallas to a maximum offer of approximately $55.6MM over four years. If Brunson continues to play at his current level, that could be a below-market offer. The team would be able to go beyond that limit in free agency using the 25-year-old’s Bird rights.

According to Stein, Brunson is “quietly regarded as Dallas’ most effective and forceful locker-room leader,” so his value to the team extends beyond what he provides on the court. If he does reach the open market next summer, it’s safe to assume Brunson will receive interest from other suitors looking to pry him away from the Mavs.

In shorter-term news, Brunson – who left Tuesday’s game with a left foot injury – went through portions of Friday’s practice, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be cleared to play on Saturday, but it sounds like his foot injury isn’t a significant one.

Mavericks Notes: Redick, Doncic, Brunson, Harrison

After finishing the 2020/21 season in Dallas, J.J. Redick had Early Bird rights with the Mavericks. The veteran sharpshooter ultimately ended up retiring, but he said on the latest episode of his Old Man and the Three podcast that it briefly looked like the Mavs might want to use those Early Bird rights to send him elsewhere in a sign-and-trade deal that would’ve resulted in a significant payday.

“About a week before free agency, my agent and I are talking, and I said to him, ‘I’m not ready to commit to anything right now,'” Redick said, per Dan Feldman of NBC Sports. “Teams were gauging interest. And I said, ‘I’m not ready to commit to anything, so on August 2nd, please just tell them I’ll talk to them later in the fall or early winter.’

“And he called me the next day, and he said, ‘Dallas has your rights. There’s a team that may do a sign-and-trade with them. If that’s the case, they’ve got to use you and your salary to make it work. You could make about $16 million.’ And I was like, ‘Alright, I’ll play another year.'”

Redick doesn’t offer any further details, so there are a lot of specifics we don’t know, as Feldman observes. It’s unclear which team the Mavs were talking to, which free agent they were targeting, and whether the discussed deal would’ve paid Redick a fully guaranteed $16MM in 2021/22. It’s a moot point now — as Redick notes, both teams ultimately “went in a different direction.”

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • Dallas came into the season that adding Reggie Bullock and Sterling Brown and getting a healthy Kristaps Porzingis back in the lineup would help push the team to the next level. However, Kevin Herrington of The Dallas Morning News is skeptical that the roster tweaks will make much of a difference, writing that the Mavs will still only go as far as Luka Doncic takes them.
  • Jalen Brunson is averaging a career-high 28.6 minutes per game so far this season, and many of those minutes are coming alongside Luka Doncic. Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com takes a look at the thinking behind Jason Kidd‘s decision to have the two guards share the court more often, especially in closing lineups. “He’s learning how to play with J.B.,” Kidd said of Doncic. “You can see he’s not afraid to give J.B. the ball. There’s a good trust, good relationship between those two.” Brunson will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
  • Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News conducted a brief Q&A with Mavericks general manager Nico Harrison, asking him about Brunson’s contract situation, Porzingis’ health, and more. Harrison didn’t specifically address potential extension talks for Brunson, but said the team is happy with his performance. “The fact that he’s playing great, we want that to continue,” Harrison said. “All that does is make it easier for us. And it makes it easier for him, too.” Brunson is extension-eligible, but can’t be offered more than about $55.6MM over four years prior to free agency.

And-Ones: Offseason Roundup, 2022 Free Agency, Evans, Nogueira

Despite the recent surge in COVID-19 breakthrough cases, the expectation around the NBA is that things will return roughly to normal for the 2021/22 season, writes ESPN’s Tim Bontemps in his offseason roundup.

Bontemps polled 10 executives and scouts on some of the most pressing questions of the offseason, such as who the best player will be this season (Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant tied for first), the best moves of the offseason (the Heat signing Kyle Lowry won out over the Magic drafting Jalen Suggs and the Wizards getting off Russell Westbrook‘s contract), the worst moves (DeMar DeRozan‘s signing with the Bulls), and others.

The executives also gave their thoughts on why fewer teams seem to be tanking this season and who should be considered the favorites to win the title.

We have more news from around the world of hoops:

  • 2022 was at one point considered a loaded free agency class, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link), but after the most recent round of extensions, the big names have been whittled down to Bradley Beal and Zach LaVine. Marks predicts some, if not all of Josh Richardson, Aaron Gordon, Jalen Brunson, Tyus Jones and Mitchell Robinson will sign extensions before the season starts and quotes a Western Conference executive who says that due to scarcity of stars on the market, he expects the regular season trade scene to be extremely active. Marks also breaks down the teams who have or could have cap space next summer.
  • 2012 NBA Slam Dunk Contest Champion Jeremy Evans, who spent five seasons with the Jazz and two more with the Mavs and Hawks, has signed with the Greek team Panathinaikos, according to Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw (Twitter link).
  • JD Shaw also tweets that former Raptor Lucas “Bebé” Nogueira, who was picked just one spot after Antetokounmpo in the 2013 draft, has come out of retirement to play for Sao Paolo in his home country of Brazil. As Shaw notes, Nogueira had announced his retirement in February.

Young, Satoransky, Brunson Receive Salary Guarantees

Bulls forward Thaddeus Young ($14.2MM) and guard Tomas Satoransky ($10MM) both saw their contracts for next season become fully guaranteed on Monday, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Satoransky is reportedly on the way to the Pelicans as part of a sign-and-trade involving Lonzo Ball.

Also having his salary guaranteed Monday was Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson ($1.8MM), Marks adds (via Twitter). Marks identifies Brunson as a potential extension candidate.

All three players will be in line for unrestricted free agency next summer.

Western Notes: Pelinka, Hetzel, Finley, Brunson, Rockets

Mental toughness is one of the things the Lakers focus on regarding draft prospects, Jovan Buha of the Los Angeles Times writes. They have devised a 90-second shooting drill, among others, to help determine how well players can perform under pressure.

“It’s really a test of, ‘OK, it’s one thing to walk in the gym fresh and move and shoot and be effective. But how are you playing basketball once you’re exhausted, once you’re past your limits?’” president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka said. “Because that’s the fourth quarter. That’s when the game’s on the line. Can you perform at a high level when you’ve spent everything you have? And that’s the mentality that we know Kobe (Bryant) always played with. And so we have drills that test that fortitude.”

The Lakers hold the No. 22 pick, though they might trade it to help improve the roster around LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Buha adds.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Steve Hetzel is expected to join Chauncey Billups’ Trail Blazers’ staff, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report tweets. Hetzel had been on the Magic’s staff under former head coach Steve Clifford.
  • Michael Finley is finalizing a new contract with the Mavericks which will give him a larger role in their front office as assistant GM and VP of player personnel under new president of basketball operations Nico Harrison, Marc Stein of Substack tweets. Finley had been Dallas’ VP of basketball operations for the past six seasons.
  • Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson, who could become an unrestricted free agent next summer, might be part of any major trade the team makes in the coming days, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes. Brunson, whose $1.82MM salary must be guaranteed on August 1st, is a valuable asset the Mavs could use to reel in a bigger target, Townsend notes.
  • The Rockets have forged a partnership with Credit Karma Money as their new uniform patch sponsor, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. The Rockets played last season without a uniform patch sponsor after the agreement with ROKiT cell phones ended before the 2020 summer restart.