Jameer Nelson

Richard Jefferson Agrees To One-Year Deal With Nuggets

Veteran forward Richard Jefferson has agreed to a one-year, $2.3MM contract with the Nuggets, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports.

Jefferson cleared waivers on Monday. He was traded by the Cavaliers to the Hawks on Saturday in a cost-cutting and roster-trimming move by Cleveland. Atlanta immediately waived him.

Denver will likely waive veteran point guard Jameer Nelson to make room for Jefferson, according to Wojnarowski.

Jefferson fortifies the small forward spot behind Wilson Chandler. His primary backup, Will Barton, suffered an ankle injury in practice on Monday.

It’s somewhat surprising that Denver would let Nelson go, as he was considered a potential starter during camp. The Nuggets have apparently decided to go with the much younger duo of Emmanuel Mudiay and Jamal Murray at point guard.

The Bucks were considered contenders for Jefferson’s services but wound up claiming another ex-Cavalier, DeAndre Liggins, on Monday. Jefferson, 37, averaged 5.7 PPG and 2.6 RPG in 79 regular-season contests last year.

Contractually, Jefferson will collect two paybacks. He’ll also receive $2MM from the Hawks, who will get a $500K set-off at the end of the season, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets.

Northwest Notes: George, Nurkic, Nuggets, Wolves

Paul George loves the excitement in Oklahoma City, especially with the reigning Most Valuable Player, Russell Westbrook, and 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony on the same team. Chris Mannix of The Vertical writes that George is optimistic and has found a comfort zone with the Thunder. Yet, the ex-Pacer simultaneously wants head coach Billy Donovan to put him in uncomfortable situations as a challenge.

A Los Angeles native, George has been rumored to join his hometown Lakers for a while. There were rumblings all offseason that George’s goal is to end up home in California — whether it was this season or when he hits free agency next summer. However, George tells Mannix that L.A. isn’t on his mind as he focuses on succeeding with the Thunder.

“I’m committed here, we’re all committed,” George said. “We want this to happen and we want this to work really well. Once we get on the court, it’s been like magic. We understand one another, we have a feel for one another, we know each other’s games so well. We want to make the most out of it, to be in the best position to succeed.”

George and the Thunder may be in a position where they have a one-year window before he departs for his home team. But he has made it clear he wants to win before he makes any long-term decisions.

Below you can check out other news around the Northwest Division:

  • Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic will miss the team’s Wednesday game against Phoenix due to a concussion, and may end up sitting out the rest of the preseason, writes Mike Richman of The Oregonian. Nurkic is eligible for an extension up until October 16, so by the time he takes the floor next for Portland, he may have a new deal in hand or be preparing to play out a contract year.
  • ESPN’s Micah Adams writes that the Nuggets‘ blueprint to build a championship contending team is eerily similar to how the Warriors went from Western Conference contender to budding dynasty.
  • Veteran Jameer Nelson is back in the competition for the Nuggets‘ starting point guard job after battling a toe injury, Gina Mizell of The Denver Post writes.
  • Timberwolves‘ head coach Tom Thibodeau has a roster with several players he coached in Chicago with the Bulls, which has made for a comfortable environment, Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune writes.

And-Ones: Pay Cuts, Rookies, Returning Rights

The idea of an NBA player taking a pay cut in order to help a franchise save funds for other players is a noble one but it doesn’t always work out for the individuals who sign at a discount, Steve Kyler or Basketball Insiders writes.

Most recently, Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson was asked if he would consider taking less pay when he hits free agency in the summer of 2019, like his teammate Kevin Durant did this summer.

I probably could, yeah. That much? I don’t know. I don’t make as much as Kevin off the court,” Thompson told The Athletic. “If it’s a few million… It’s a blessing whatever contract I sign. I would definitely consider it cause I don’t want to lose anybody.”

Kyler discusses several cases of players who took pay cuts to play for a winner only to see that shot at a title quickly fade. Back in 2015, David West left eight digits on the table in order to chase a ring with the Spurs but ultimately came up short. The following summer he had to sign on with the Warriors instead, in order to take home a championship.

Jameer Nelson is another striking example of what can go wrong for a player. Nelson was bought out by the Magic in the summer of 2014 and turned around to sign at a discount with the Mavs. Dallas, however, shipped the veteran guard off less than two months into the 2014/15 campaign in the deal that landed them Rajon Rondo.

Of course there are success stories and Kyler references both Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade taking pay cuts to appease franchises that have supported them over the course of their careers. Tim Duncan is another example of a superstar that happily left money on the table in order to preserve the Spurs‘ financial flexibility.

There’s more from around the NBA:

  • While it’s only natural to get excited about the potential of the point guards at the top of the 2017 NBA Draft, don’t expect them to steamroll their way through the league right away. Kevin Pelton of ESPN (Insider) took a deep dive into the statistical projections of players like Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz and Dennis Smith Jr. only to conclude that genuinely performing as a Top 100 player in the NBA is exceedingly difficult for a first-year guard.
  • The NBA’s age limit has been a common talking point ever since it was implemented last decade but change could be inevitable, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes. The scribe writes that the prohibition of traditional high school seniors in the NBA draft isn’t about skill but rather about maturity. He also highlights the fact that many of the eligibility rules related to the NCAA-to-NBA pipeline come from the NCAA and not from the big league, itself.
  • Ever wonder what G League writers like Chris Reichert of 2 Ways, 10 Days are talking about when they refer to players’ returning rights? Consider the following an introduction to the contract mechanism and a crash course in who the most valuable players to whom returning rights apply currently are.

Kenneth Faried Uneasy With Backup Role

Kenneth Faried comes into Nuggets training camp as a backup and he’s not happy about it, as he told Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm and CBSSports.com and other media members. Faried, who can play either power forward or center, strongly suggested that if he doesn’t play enough minutes, then he should be dealt. (Twitter links).

“If this team doesn’t want or respect me enough to play me the minutes, then I understand that. Maybe I go somewhere else,” he said.

Denver upgraded its frontcourt by signing Hawks free agent Paul Millsap to a three-year, $90.5MM contract.  The Nuggets have Nikola Jokic, a finalist for Most Improved Player in the league last season, at center. Wilson Chandler is slotted a small forward.

Faried isn’t surprised by the Nuggets’ thinking, but refuses to view himself as a reserve.

“I’ll just put this out there. I. Am. A. Starter,” he said (Twitter link).

Faried was in and out of the lineup last season when he battled a back injury. He appeared in 61 games, 34 as a starter, while averaging a career-low 9.6 PPG and 7.6 RPG in 21.2 MPG. He came off the bench just 17 times during the first five seasons of his career. There were unspecified teams reportedly interested in Faried when Millsap announced he would join the Nuggets.

Faried, who is averaging 11.9 PPG and 8.5 RPG in his career, is signed through next season. He’ll make $12.9MM this season and $13.76MM next season.

Gary Harris is the team’s starting shooting guard but there will be an open competition at point guard, Moore adds (Twitter link).

Emmanuel Mudiay, the team’s 2015 lottery pick, has been erratic in his first two seasons. He’ll be challenged by second-year man Jamal Murray, with veteran Jameer Nelson presenting a fallback option.

Northwest Notes: McDermott, Thunder, Nelson, Blazers

As Doug McDermott prepares for his first full season with the Thunder, he knows that he will have to improve, writes Nick Gallo of NBA.com“I try to add something each summer because I don’t want to stay the same player,” McDermott said. “I feel like I can still get a lot better.”

McDermott will need to be a more dynamic threat. The forward must take better advantage of post-up opportunities, as he did in high school and college. “I’m just more than a spot-up shooter. I know I can move without the ball, and I think that just puts more pressure on them, and it can open up more things for everyone out there,” McDermott explained.

“The way the league is trending, it’s getting smaller with a lot of small ball and guys that can really spread the floor regardless of their position. I feel like I’m just a basketball player,” McDermott added. “I’m excited after talking with Coach Donovan. We’ve got a great facility here, and it’s a great city, too, so I plan on bouncing around a little bit, having some fun, but also coming here ready to work.”

Here’s more from the Northwest division:

  • Of all the teams trading for superstar players this offseason, the Thunder gave up the least in return, argues Berry Tramel of NewsOK.com. Tramel looks at the Paul George trade, as well as the deals involving Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, and Kyrie Irving, and the scribe pronounces that the Thunder traded away the least value.
  • Mike Jensen of Philly.com profiles Nuggets veteran point guard Jameer Nelson, focusing on what it takes to thrive in the NBA at Nelson’s advanced age of 35 years old. Nelson’s boxing training has helped him stay in peak physical condition. “He’s in better shape than the first five years I trained him,’’ Nelson’s trainer said, adding that Nelson picked up boxing part “like it was walking.”
  • The Trail Blazers have named Jesse Ellis the new Director of Player Health and Performance. “The addition of Jesse is another step toward developing the finest health and performance staff in the NBA,” said general manager Neil Olshey.

 

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Nuggets, Turner, Murray

The Trail Blazers will probably wait until the offseason to start making trades to decrease salary, writes Bobby Marks of The Vertical. Portland is looking at the highest payroll in the league next season and has gotten limited production in return, a half game out of the West’s final playoff spot entering tonight’s action. The Blazers have their own draft pick as well as Cleveland’s to offer, but Marks believes those will be more valuable in a possible June deal than they are now. Portland can also deal the contract of Festus Ezeli, who hasn’t played this season and has a $7.733MM salary for next year with just a $1MM guarantee through June 30. However, Marks warns that luxury tax concerns should make the team think twice about taking back any long-term deals.

There’s more news out of the Northwest Division:

  • History suggests that Nuggets GM Tim Connelly will be active at the trade deadline, Marks writes in the same piece. Since taking over in 2013, Connelly has been involved in five deadline deals, along with the trade of Timofey Mozgov to the Cavaliers in January of 2015. Marks also notes that Denver is $7.6MM below the cap floor and could be active on the waiver wire to try to reach that figure.
  • Former Blazer Nicolas Batum believes the team needs to be patient with Evan Turner, relays Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. Turner has been going through a rocky transition since signing a four-year, $70MM deal over the summer. Batum, who was traded to the Hornets in 2015, says Turner gives Portland many of the same attributes that he used to. “He’s one of the best playmakers in this league,” Batum said. “I really appreciate his game. He showed that in Boston the last two years. He just needs time. This is a new team for him.”
  • Veteran point guard Jameer Nelson is teaching the position to Nuggets rookie Jamal Murray, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. “I don’t like to talk about too much of what’s going on in the locker room, but I just encourage him,” Nelson said. “I don’t know what it is to be his age [19] in the NBA. But I can just tell him or help him out with plays or certain situations. And he’s real receptive of it. He’s a great kid. That’s why I’m able to get through to him, because he’s such a great kid.”

Shelvin Mack Latest PG Linked To Cavaliers

The Cavaliers are in the market for a point guard and Marc Stein of ESPN has explored two potential fits. Given Cleveland’s abundance of trade exceptions, the team could make a deal for a veteran point guard and absorb the player’s contract that way. With their Anderson Varejao trade exception, which expires on February 20, the club could deal for Jazz point guard Shelvin Mack.

In 42 games for the Jazz, Mack has averaged 7.9 points and 2.9 assists. He’s owed $2.4MM on a deal that will expire this offseason.

Another option at the point, one that has been discussed previously this week, is Nuggets guard Jameer Nelson. The 34-year-old is owed $4.5MM this season, which would necessitate the use of the $4.8MM trade exception the team procured in last month’s Kyle Korver trade.

Nelson has averaged 8.8 points and 4.6 assists per game in 45 tilts with Denver so far in 2016/17.

Jameer Nelson A Primary Target For Cavaliers?

The Cavaliers have taken part in “repeated discussions” centered on point guard Jameer Nelson, league sources tell Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net. Nelson was one of three potential Cavs targets mentioned by Mitch Lawrence of Forbes earlier this week, and Amico suggests that the Nuggets guard appears Cleveland’s primary target from that group.

The Cavs have been in the market for a backup point guard all season, though their search may be intensifying with the trade deadline nearing and LeBron Jamescall for playmakers growing louder. After Cleveland suffered its fifth loss in the team’s last seven games, James said that he hopes the organization is “not satisfied” with the current roster.

[RELATED: Five ways Cavs could address backup point guard spot]

Nelson, who turns 35 next month, has been a steady backup in Denver over the last two years, having averaged 8.7 PPG and 4.5 APG with a .446/.374/.706 shooting line in 44 games this season. Of course, the Nuggets remain in the hunt for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, so it’s not clear how willing they’d be to sell off rotation players, particularly someone like Nelson, who is viewed as a mentor for Emmanuel Mudiay.

If the Cavs and Nuggets did get serious about a potential Nelson deal, there are a number of different forms a trade could take. Cleveland has one trade exception worth $4.8MM+, which would be more than enough to absorb Nelson’s $4.5MM+ salary, meaning the Cavs wouldn’t necessarily have to send out any salary in a swap. However, the Nuggets remain well below the salary floor, so the club likely wouldn’t be averse to taking on a contract or two as part of a deal.

Lawrence’s report for Forbes this week also mentioned Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo as players on the Cavaliers’ radar, but Cleveland’s level of interest in those players is unclear. General manager David Griffin has certainly considered many options on both the trade market and free agent market to solidify the team’s point guard position and provide the club with another playmaker. Griffin may ultimately wait until closer to the deadline to make a decision on the best direction for the Cavs.

LeBron James: Cavs Need To Add Playmaker

Shortly after the Cavaliers acquired Kyle Korver earlier this month, LeBron James told reporters that the team still needed a backup point guard and another big man. General manager David Griffin wasn’t sold on the idea of adding another frontcourt player, but agreed with James that the Cavs could use another playmaker. Now, with Cleveland having lost five of its last seven games, the reigning Finals MVP has repeated his call for roster reinforcements.

“I just hope that we’re not satisfied as an organization,” James said on Monday night to a handful of Cavs’ beat reporters, including Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. “I just hope we’re not satisfied.”

As McMenamin details, James told reporters that this year’s Cavs aren’t better than last year’s team from a personnel standpoint, having failed to adequately replace a few departing players like Matthew Dellavedova and Timofey Mozgov. James also views Cleveland’s roster as too “top-heavy,” relying on him, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love for a huge portion of the club’s production during the regular season.

“It’s great to have bodies (in the regular season),” James said. “Obviously, in the playoffs, you go down to what, eight max? And if somebody gets in foul trouble, you go to nine. You’re not playing back-to-backs. You have two days in between. You’re able to lock in. … When you don’t have bodies, it’s tough. The (expletive) grind of the regular season. We’re a top-heavy team.”

[RELATED: Five ways Cavs could address backup point guard spot]

James acknowledged that the front office was handcuffed to a certain extent by Mo Williams‘ last-minute decision to retire, since Williams had been penciled in as the team’s backup point guard prior to training camp. The 32-year-old also acknowledged that reliable rotation players don’t grow on trees, but stressed that the Cavs “need a (expletive) playmaker.”

“I don’t know what we got to offer (in trades),” James said. “I just know me, personally? I don’t got no time to waste. I’ll be 33 in the winter, and I ain’t got time to waste. That’s what I’m talking about.”

As James hints, the Cavs don’t have a ton of appealing assets to dangle in trade talks. The earlier first-round pick Cleveland can trade is its 2021 selection, and most of the players the club can afford to part with have modest contracts, which could make salary-matching difficult. The Cavs have five traded player exceptions at their disposal, but the largest one is worth about $4.84MM, so any player making more than $5MM or so would be out of reach with those TPEs. The team will also have to be wary of adding too much more salary to its books — no NBA club has a higher payroll ($127MM+) or a more substantial projected tax bill ($27MM+) than Cleveland.

[RELATED: Salary Cap Snapshot: Cleveland Cavaliers]

Nonetheless, the Cavs figure to continue scouring the market for potential difference-makers. Mitch Lawrence of Forbes suggests that Jameer Nelson, Rajon Rondo, and Deron Williams are among the team’s possible targets, and while some of those options are probably less realistic than others, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Cleveland make a move before next month’s trade deadline.

Western Notes: Pelicans, Nuggets, Suns

Alvin Gentry will find himself on the hot seat if the Pelicans continue to struggle, Sean Deveney of Sporting News writes. New Orleans has won just 38 games since he took over the team, but the lack of success isn’t entirely his fault. Gentry hasn’t been able to implement complicated offensive sets because of a rash of injuries since taking over the job. He’s been forced to use 55 different starting lineups over the last two seasons and Deveney argues that Gentry deserves more time because of the instability.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Jameer Nelson has been a leader for Nuggets and many within the organization believe he possesses the skills to become a head coach down the road, Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders writes. “Jameer is the leader of our team,” Mike Malone said. “It’s been important because we have so many young players on this team. It’s great to have a young guy that can look to a guy like Jameer and how to act on and off of the court.”
  • The Nuggets should consider dealing Wilson Chandler and Minnesota would be a good destination for the veteran, Michael Pina of RealGM opines. Pina believes Denver could get a future first round pick for the small forward.
  • The Suns should deal Tyson Chandler in order to free up minutes for their younger frontcourt players, Keith P. Smith of RealGM contends. Smith argues that the team should be patient with its rebuild and not try to bring aboard any other veterans who don’t fit its timeline.
  • The Grizzlies are winning games despite a slew of injuries and Colin McGowen of RealGM believes coach David Fizdale deserves credit for his effective communication and aggressive defensive scheme. Memphis leads the league in defensive efficiency, as I noted in this week’s edition of Fantasy Hoops.
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