Jameer Nelson

Central Notes: Bulls, Nelson, J.R. Smith, Pacers

The Bulls need to get more serious about tanking and start making moves to improve their lottery chances, Nick Friedell of ESPN.com argues. Cristiano Felicio, Paul Zipser, Noah Vonleh and Cameron Payne should receive a lot more playing time, while veterans like Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday should have their minutes reduced, Friedell says. Holding out Zach LaVine on the second game of back-to-backs would also facilitate the cause, Friedell adds.

Also around the Central Division:

  • Small forward James Ennis and point guard Jameer Nelson have jumped right into the Pistons’ rotation after being acquired just before the trade deadline. Ennis, who was traded by the Grizzlies for forward Brice Johnson and a future second-round pick, has averaged 9.5 PPG and 17.5 MPG over the past two games. Nelson, who was traded by the Bulls for Willie Reed and future draft considerations, has averaged 9.0 PPG and 5.0 APG in 19.5 MPG during his first two games with Detroit.
  • Nelson, 35, told Hoops Rumors and other reporters that he’d like to continue playing after this season. The Pistons point guard be an unrestricted free agent this summer.  “I never want to put a limit or a time frame on my career,” he said. “My body feels good, my mind is right. So I’ll just continue to work. My body and mind will tell me when it’s time for me to go. I think there will be a lot of teams that will need a guy like me next season.”
  • Pacers players lobbied GM Kevin Pritchard to stand pat during the trade deadline, Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star relays. Pritchard was approached by six players, who told him they wanted to see what they could accomplish with the current mix. “They feel like they are overachieving and had a little bit of a chip on their shoulder,” Pritchard said during a press conference. “They wanted to have the opportunity to finish this out and try to get into the playoffs. … That carried a lot of weight with me.”
  • Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith held onto his roster spot and retained his starting job, but he admits he was sweating out the deadline, as ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reports. “My name was being thrown around a lot out there, so it was nerve-wracking for sure,” Smith said. “When you see six guys getting traded and there’s still more than an hour to the trade deadline, there’s no telling what can happen.” Smith is owed $30.3MM over the next two seasons, which made his contract difficult to move, McMenamin notes.

Central Notes: Irving, Nelson, Pacers

The Celtics and Cavaliers are preparing for their third meeting of the 2017/18 season and the outcome of this past summer’s Kyrie Irving trade is still a hot topic. ESPN’s Kevin Pelton breaks down how the trade that shipped one of the top point guards in the league out of Cleveland can be considered a lopsided bust.

Pelton notes that the consensus, in the beginning, was that the Cavaliers’ return was fairly decent; Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick. However, it did not come out until later that Thomas’ hip injury was worse than initially feared, which delayed his Cleveland debut until several months into the season. Also, Pelton used two recent cases of players coming back from a similar labrum tear only to see their production wane.

Thomas’ trade value went south through 15 games with the Cleveland, Crowder was a massive disappointment and the organization blew everything up in the hours up until the deadline. Meanwhile, Irving has been his usual stellar self for the Celtics, making the deal go from fair to lopsided in a hurry.

Check out other Central Division news below:

  • Veteran point guard Jameer Nelson is not expected to play much for the Pistons but he is ready to help the team any way he can, Ansar Khan of MLive.com writes. Nelson had an eventful deadline as he dealt twice; first, the Pelicans shipped him to the Bulls in the Nikola Mirotic trade and then Chicago traded Nelson to Pistons. The trade also reunites Nelson with his former Magic head coach, Stan Van Gundy, NBA.com’s Keith Langlois writes. “Still the same Stan,” Nelson said.
  • The Pacers stood pat at the deadline, with the team more focused on the future than short-term fixes, Clifton Brown of the Indianapolis Star writes. At 31-25, Indiana is currently in sixth place in the Eastern Conference and on track to make the playoffs. However, Brown notes that the Pacers do not feel like they were one trade away from being a championship contender and elected to not make a move.

Bulls Trade Jameer Nelson To Pistons

1:53pm: The Pistons have confirmed the trade via a press release.

10:11am: The Bulls are sending veteran point guard Jameer Nelson to the Pistons in a deadline-day trade, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links). According to Charania, center Willie Reed will be headed to Chicago. The Bulls will also get the right to swap 2022 second-round picks with the Pistons, per Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post (via Twitter).Jameer Nelson vertical

Both Nelson and Reed have already been traded within the last week and a half — Nelson moved from New Orleans to Chicago in the Nikola Mirotic trade, while Reed was one of the pieces the Pistons acquired from the Clippers alongside Blake Griffin. Nelson and Reed were both eligible to be traded again this week, but couldn’t have had their salaries aggregated with another player’s salary in a deal.

For the Pistons, Nelson will help fortify the point guard position, which has been somewhat shorthanded this season due to Reggie Jackson‘s lengthy injury absence. Ish Smith and Dwight Buycks have done a respectable job handling point guard duties with Jackson on the shelf, but Nelson will provide a steady veteran hand.

Nelson, who will turn 36 on Friday, appeared in 43 games for the Pelicans this season, averaging 5.1 PPG and 3.6 APG with a .410/.364/.765 shooting line in 20.9 minutes per contest. In Detroit, he’ll reunite with Stan Van Gundy, who coached him for several seasons in Orlando.

As for Reed, the 27-year-old center was solid as a part-timer in Miami last season, averaging 5.3 PPG and 4.7 RPG in 71 games with the Heat. His per-minute numbers have remained solid for the Clippers and Pistons this season, but he’s playing a career-low 10.2 MPG. He was also recently hit with a six-game suspension as a result of a domestic incident that took place last summer, though the NBPA has filed a grievance on his behalf.

Like Nelson, Reed will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, so he seems unlikely to fit into the Bulls’ long-term plans. In fact, Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago reports (via Twitter) that Chicago plans to immediately waive the big man.

The Bulls and Pistons will each create modest trade exceptions in the swap, with Chicago getting one worth Nelson’s salary ($1,429,818) and Detroit creating one worth Reed’s salary ($1,471,382).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Robin Lopez Trade Talks Intensifying

After sending Nikola Mirotic to the Pelicans last week, the Bulls remain on the lookout for more potential trades, with Robin Lopez among the candidates to be dealt. According to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune, talks centering on Lopez have “intensified” as of late, with this year’s deadline just three days away.

Lopez, 29, is averaging a career-best 12.6 PPG this season to go along with 4.8 RPG, a career-high 2.1 APG, and a .525 FG%. While Lopez’s per-minute rebounding numbers in 2017/18 are the worst of his career, he continues to be a respected defender with a reputation for effectively boxing out opponents and allowing his teammates to grab boards.

A report last week suggested that the Bulls are seeking a first-round pick in exchange for Lopez, which may be a tough sell. Although the veteran’s contract isn’t toxic, he’s Chicago’s highest-paid player, with cap hits of $13.79MM this season and $14.36MM next year. In order to have a chance at a first-rounder for Lopez, the Bulls would probably need to take on a bad contract, as they did in the Mirotic trade when they acquired Omer Asik.

Lopez isn’t the only trade candidate on the Bulls’ roster, according to Johnson, who notes that Jerian Grant continues to be available. Recently-acquired veterans Tony Allen and Jameer Nelson are also being kept on the roster in case they can be used in larger packages or traded on their own. Johnson reported over the weekend that the Bulls and Thunder have discussed Allen.

Bulls Notes: Nelson, Allen, Grant, Dunn

Newly acquired Bulls Jameer Nelson and Tony Allen shouldn’t get too comfortable in Chicago, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Both players served as salary fillers in the deal that sent Nikola Mirotic to New Orleans, and neither may remain with the Bulls after Thursday’s trade deadline.

‘‘We now have a situation where we’re invested in these young guys,’’ said VP of basketball operations John Paxson. ‘‘Our focus remains on growth and development of them. This is consistent with what we set out to do on draft night.’’

The term “young guys” doesn’t describe Nelson, who turns 36 next week, or Allen, who reached that age last month. They may be able to provide short-term help for a contender, but they don’t have a place on a rebuilding team like the Bulls. They also carry affordable, expiring deals, with salaries of about $1.43MM for Nelson and $1.47MM for Allen.

There’s more news today out of Chicago:

  • Cowley suggests in the same piece that Paxson would be willing to move anyone on the roster except Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn in exchange for a young player or draft pick, even if it means taking on a large salary in return. That’s what the Bulls did in the deal with the Pelicans, absorbing Omer Asik‘s contract to obtain a top-five protected first-rounder from New Orleans. “To acquire a [protected] first-round pick in the trade for Niko I think fits the direction this team is heading,” Paxson added. “Obviously, we’re going to have our pick, which will be a very high pick, and then we’ll see what happens with that New Orleans pick.’’
  • The Thunder have talked to the Bulls about acquiring Allen, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Oklahoma City needs defensive help in the backcourt after a ruptured patellar tendon knocked out Andre Roberson for the rest of the season. Chicago has been offering up point guard Jerian Grant around the league for several weeks, Johnson adds.
  • An illness has complicated Dunn’s return from a concussion he suffered January 17, Cowley writes in a separate story. Dunn was progressing through the early stages of concussion protocol before getting sick. He has been ruled out for Monday’s game at Sacramento and may not play again before the All-Star break. Dunn still needs to finish the protocol and get some practice time before he will be cleared to return.

Pelicans Acquire Nikola Mirotic From Bulls

The Pelicans and Bulls have finalized a trade that sends forward Nikola Mirotic to New Orleans, with both clubs confirming via press releases that the deal is official. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link) first reported that the Pelicans and Bulls had reached an agreement in principle.Mirotic vertical

The two teams appeared to be on the verge of a trade earlier this week, but hit a roadblock in the form of Mirotic’s $12.5MM team option for 2018/19. The veteran forward, who had veto rights unless that option was exercised, wanted New Orleans to pick it up, but the Pelicans were initially unwilling to do so due to concerns about their ability to retain Mirotic and re-sign DeMarcus Cousins without going into luxury tax territory.

The Pelicans have now guaranteed Mirotic’s $12.5MM salary for next season, which clinched the deal, per Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Omer Asik and a future first-round pick are headed to Chicago, as was the case in the initial agreement.

New Orleans needed to include at least one more salary to stay under a hard cap, so Tony Allen heads to Chicago too, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Allen will likely be waived by the Bulls, Woj tweets.

The Pelicans will open one extra roster spot by also adding Jameer Nelson to the trade, tweets K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Nelson may also be cut, but it probably won’t happen immediately, per Johnson, who tweets that the point guard’s future is unclear. Paxson said that there is a week left until the trade deadline so the Bulls still have time to decide on waiving players, Johnson tweets.

In order to complete a three-for-one deal, the Bulls will have to open up a roster spot, since they currently only have a single opening. Quincy Pondexter looks like the strongest candidate to be waived.

[RELATED: Bulls to waive Pondexter]

Speaking of Pondexter, according to Johnson (Twitter link), the Bulls will also be returning the Pelicans’ own 2018 second-round pick to New Orleans after initially acquiring it in a September trade that landed Pondexter in Chicago. That pick served as an incentive to convince the Pelicans to exercise Mirotic’s second-year team option, Johnson notes (via Twitter).

The first-round pick the Bulls are getting in the swap will be the Pelicans’ 2018 first-rounder, and it will have “minimal” protections, tweets Wojnarowski. TNT’s David Aldridge clarifies (via Twitter) that it’ll be top-five protected this year, while Johnson tweets that it’ll be top-eight protected in 2019. Finally, Woj adds that there will be a pick-swapping option in the 2021 draft, with the Bulls having the opportunity to swap their second-round pick for the Pelicans’ second-rounder.

“The draft asset we acquired was far and away the best thing we had got (in talks),” Bulls executive vice president John Paxson said to reporters, including Johnson. “It’s consistent with the direction and plan we talked about this summer.”

Mirotic, who has been the subject of trade rumors throughout the 2017/18 campaign, was sidelined with facial injuries to start the season after being punched by teammate Bobby Portis during an altercation in practice. Mirotic’s camp reportedly issued an ultimatum in the fall in an effort to get the Bulls to trade either Mirotic or Portis, but the power forwards were willing to bury the hatchet and coexist on the court when Mirotic got healthy.

Since returning to action, Mirotic has enjoyed the most productive year of his NBA career, averaging 16.8 PPG and 6.4 RPG to go along with a .474/.429/.823 shooting line. All of those numbers are career highs. Despite his solid play and the club’s improved record, Mirotic was still said to prefer a trade out of Chicago, and was pulled out of action this week as the Bulls attempted to finalize a deal.

As the Bulls explored the market for Mirotic, the Jazz and Pistons were cited most frequently as potential trade partners. However, Detroit landed a bigger fish on Monday, acquiring Blake Griffin from the Clippers, and Utah was reportedly unwilling to include a first-round pick in an offer for the stretch four.

The Bulls, who were said to be seeking a first-rounder for Mirotic all along, will get that pick from the Pelicans, though they’ll have to give up a second-rounder and take on an unwanted contract in the process. Asik, a former Bull, is earning about $10.6MM this season, with a guaranteed salary worth $11.29MM in 2018/19. The veteran center has one more year on his deal in 2019/20, but it’s only partially guaranteed for $3MM. Allen and Nelson are on expiring minimum salaries, so they won’t have any impact on the cap beyond this season.

As for the Pelicans, they’re set to fill the lineup hole created when Cousins went down on Friday with a season-ending Achilles injury, and they may not be done adding frontcourt help. New Orleans has been strongly linked to Greg Monroe, who is being bought out by the Suns, and Scott Kushner of The Advocate tweets that the acquisition of Mirotic won’t adversely affect the club’s pursuit of Monroe. In fact, by clearing a little salary and opening up a pair of roster spots in this deal, adding Monroe may be even more viable for the Pelicans, who have room to add two players on minimum salaries, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link) — still, the team may not be able to offer him as significant a role with Mirotic now in the mix.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bulls Plan To Hang Onto Jameer Nelson

As part of the trade that will send Nikola Mirotic to New Orleans, the Bulls will receive three players: Omer Asik, Tony Allen, and Jameer Nelson. While initial reports indicated that the Bulls would likely waive both Allen and Nelson, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets that the club is now planning to keep Nelson on its roster.

K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune first reported (via Twitter) that the Bulls wouldn’t waive Nelson right away, adding that the point guard’s future was “TBD.” Wojnarowski’s reports suggests that Nelson will at least stick around Chicago for the time being, though it’s not clear if the veteran is safe for the rest of the season, or just for the next few weeks. If a player wants to be bought out while retaining his eligibility to play in the postseason for a new team, he must be waived before March 1.

For now, Nelson appears poised to help mentor a young group of Bulls point guards that includes Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne. In addition to providing a solid locker room presence, Nelson has also posted respectable on-court numbers this season, averaging 5.1 PPG and 3.6 APG with a .410/.364/.765 shooting line in a part-time role for New Orleans. He’s on a minimum salary contract.

Assuming the Bulls waive Allen and keep Asik and Nelson on their roster after finalizing the Mirotic trade, the team will be left with one open roster spot.

Nuggets Notes: Murray, Nelson, Irving

The Nuggets were in discussions with the Suns about an Eric Bledsoe trade, but it appears their decision not to offer too much for a new starting point guard is paying dividends. Jamal Murray, who has been Denver’s starting point guard since the beginning of the season, is playing well and the team is encouraged by his development.

“I love the pace he’s playing with,” said coach Michael Malone after a recent game (via Christopher Dempsey of NBA.com). “He’s got to set the pace that we want to play at, he’s got to be aggressive and he’s got to play with confidence. And you’re seeing that a lot more consistently right now. He’s starting to become a consistent starting point guard in the NBA.”

The 2016 No. 7 overall pick spent much of his playing time at shooting guard during his rookie season, but this year, he’s seeing all of his minutes at the one.

Here’s more on the Nuggets:

  • Denver had a deal in place to trade Jameer Nelson to a lottery team for a protected second-rounder prior to the season, though the team could “not stomach” sending the 35-year-old to a bad team, sources tell Zach Lowe of ESPN. The Nuggets ended up waiving Nelson, a move that allowed the vet to pick his own suitor.
  • Malone would have liked to keep Nelson on the team, though he is supportive of the organization’s decision to let the veteran go, Lowe relays in the same piece. “It was tough to see Jameer go,” Malone says. “The players trusted him. I find value in veteran mentors. In our meetings, of course I brought up all the reasons it made sense to keep him. But you have to think big picture. It wasn’t like I was kicking and screaming. By the end, we were all on board.”
  • The Nuggets had exploratory discussions with the Cavs about Kyrie Irving prior to them dealing away the point guard, though talks never got that far, per Lowe (same piece). The scribe notes that Murray, Wilson Chandler, and a lightly-protected first-rounder would have intrigued Cleveland, but Murray was never on the table.

Nuggets Were Close To Eric Bledsoe Trade

Denver was in the “red zone” on a potential trade for Eric Bledsoe last month, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN. Complete details aren’t provided, but Lowe believes Phoenix would have received Emmanuel Mudiay and a first-round pick.

Negotiations with the Suns eventually fell apart and the Nuggets moved on, leaving them with an extremely young point guard duo in Mudiay and Jamal Murray.

“We chase every opportunity to improve ourselves,” said Denver GM Tim Connelly, who refused to comment directly on the Bledsoe talks. “We’ve had a lot of excellent players offered to us for our young talent. There’s a fine line between overvaluing your own players and being too aggressive chasing short-term results.”

The decision not to give up too much for Bledsoe is understandable, writes Lowe, who says he wouldn’t have made made the Nuggets title contenders this season or next. After that, he will be seeking a huge contract as a free agent in his 30s with a history of knee problems.

Lowe also notes that Denver had an opportunity to make a run at Kyrie Irving over the summer, but refused to include Murray in a potential deal. He believes a package of Murray, Wilson Chandler and a minimally protected first-rounder would have gotten the Cavaliers’ attention.

The experience issue at point guard was created just before the season started when the Nuggets elected to waive Jameer Nelson, who played 75 games last season and started 39. Denver worked out a deal to trade him to a lower-level team in exchange for a protected second-round pick, but pulled out because the front office didn’t want Nelson to be stuck on a team with no shot at the playoffs. He eventually signed with the Pelicans after clearing waivers.

“It was tough to see Jameer go,” coach Mike Malone said. “The players trusted him. I find value in veteran mentors. In our meetings, of course I brought up all the reasons it made sense to keep him. But you have to think big picture. It wasn’t like I was kicking and screaming. By the end, we were all on board.”

Southwest Notes: Parsons, Matthews, Nelson, Rockets, Spurs

Chandler Parsons stint with the Grizzlies has not gone according to plan. The former Rockets and Mavericks standout has been hampered by knee injuries, including three knee surgeries the last three years. Now, after playing just 15 minutes in Memphis’ first few regular season games this year, Parsons is frustrated with his limited playing time, Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal writes. 

“It sucks right now playing 15 minutes a night to be honest with you,” Parsons said. “But they have a plan in place that, hopefully, I’ll be playing big minutes when it matters.”

Parsons appeared in just 34 games last season, averaging 6.2 PPG and 2.5 RPG in a career-low 19.9 minutes per game. After signing a four-year, $94MM deal with the Grizzlies in July 2016, Parsons has not come close to his past performance. If he continues to show he’s over his prior knee injuries, the Grizzlies will look salvage the remainder of their pact with the 28-year-old.

Check out more news coming out of the Southwest Division:

  • Wesley Matthews‘ early season struggles may seem to be the perfect chance to bench him but if the Mavericks ever intend on trading him, they must do it while his value is high, Eddie Sefko of Dallas Sports Day writes.
  • Veteran Jameer Nelson endured a 10-hour journey from Philadelphia to Los Angeles to join his Pelicans teammates for a Sunday evening contest against the Lakers. As William Guillory of NOLA.com writes, Nelson, 35, posted five points and five assists in 24 minutes — including a clutch three-pointer — to help New Orleans avoid a loss in a game they once led by 22 points.
  • New Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said that James Harden is “truly the best player in the NBA” as Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes.
  • Olivier Hanlan, a former second-round pick by the Jazz from 2015, has joined the Spurs’ G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs, according to Chris Reichert of 2Ways10Days (Twitter link). San Antonio currently holds Hanlan’s NBA rights, having acquired him in last year’s Boris Diaw swap.
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