James Borrego

Southeast Notes: Beal, Hornets, Borrego, Avdija

Now that Bucks All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is no longer going to be a 2021 free agent candidate for the Heat, Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel wonders if Miami might pivot to eventually adding Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal, who holds a $37.26MM player option for the 2022/23 season. After swapping out point guard John Wall for All-Star Russell Westbrook in the offseason, the Wizards are off to a 1-5 start.

The 6’3″ Beal, 27, is a two-time All-Star and could be a great fit on the Heat as both a secondary ball-handler and an off-ball cutter. He is currently averaging a career-best 31.2 PPG on 47.8% shooting from the field and 87.7% shooting from the charity stripe. Though his three-point shooting through the first six games of the season is a low 27.3%, he is a career 37.9% three-point shooter, averaging 6.0 triples per contest over the course of his career.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • The Hornets have had to adjust their rotation given the absence of starting center Cody Zeller, and their transition to a faster small-ball lineup has proven effective thus far, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.
  • In a separate piece, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer wonders how long Hornets head coach James Borrego will ride his current starting lineup. Starting point guard Devonte’ Graham is struggling mighty with his offense, shooting 25% from the floor, while rookie draft selection LaMelo Ball could be a candidate for a promotion.
  • Wizards rookie wing Deni Avdija showcased his offensive skill set in his best game of the young season, a 130-109 Washington victory over the Timberwolves on Friday, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Avdija, the No. 9 pick in the 2020 draft, scored 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the floor, and recorded seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Hughes contends that it Avdija appears to have made progress in his ability to read the floor. “I love playmaking,” Avidja said. “I like making my teammates involved. I’m looking for them at every opportunity.”

Southeast Notes: Heat Free Agency, LaMelo, Collins, Avdija

With Giannis Antetokounmpo now signed to the Bucks on a record $228MM five-year extension, the Heat could pivot their 2021 free agency focus to alternative options, such as star forwards Kawhi Leonard and Blake Griffin, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Leonard can opt out of the contract he signed with the Clippers in the summer of 2019, and has sounded non-committal to L.A. beyond this season in recent interviews, in Winderman’s view. Meanwhile, though injuries limited Griffin to just 20 games last season, the 6’9″ power forward made the All-Star team for the Pistons in 2019.

The 2020 Eastern Conference champions should have significant cap space next summer to add a high-level player, though they will need to address the restricted free agency of sharpshooter Duncan Robinson.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Though rookie Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball has struggled through some growing pains in this early season, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer suggests that the No. 3 overall pick should see more playing time from coach James Borrego. Ball is averaging just 15.5 minutes so far. “It’s tough. There are a number of guys that are capable of handling minutes,” Borrego said. “LaMelo’s got to do his part. It’s my job to do what’s best for this club.
  • Hawks power forward John Collins may have rejected an extension offer in excess of $90MM prior to the season, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on his Hoop Collective podcast. The high-scoring big man will become a restricted free agent in the summer of 2021, and could command a similar number – or a higher one – on the open market.
  • Rookie Wizards swingman Deni Avdija is getting the first-year treatment from league referees, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Head coach Scott Brooks contends that Avdija is receiving quick whistles from league officials. Early foul trouble limited Avdija to just 15 minutes of action in a loss to the Magic yesterday. “It’s just part of the rookie initiation,” Brooks commented. “I [reviewed the plays] at halftime… I didn’t think two of them were fouls.”

Southeast Notes: Rozier, Hawks, Wizards, Borrego

The big Hornets offseason acquisition of 2019, guard Terry Rozier, faces a new challenge in the 2020/21 season: acclimating to two key incoming pieces who will need touches in point guard LaMelo Ball and forward Gordon Hayward, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes.

“It just goes back to adjusting to what is best for the team — what can help us get better,” said Rozier, who cited the adjustment he made during the 2019/20 season to accommodate emergent Hornets point guard Devonte’ Graham. “I became a great catch-and-shoot guy last year. That’s adding to my game, doing multiple things.” 

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The College Park Skyhawks, G League affiliate of the Hawks, are among the several clubs anticipated to opt out of the proposed G League bubble season, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). The season is expected to transpire in the Atlanta area.
  • New Wizards reserve center Robin Lopez has joined the team for his first practice, Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets. Meanwhile, newly-extended power forward Davis Bertans has arrived in D.C. and is expected to be cleared for practice by Saturday, according to Ava Wallace of the Washington Post (via Twitter). Wallace notes that visa problems delayed the big man’s arrival.
  • Now that the Hornets appear to be making a push for the play-in tournament and a crack at the playoffs, head coach James Borrego will exercise more caution in the freedom he gives young players this season, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer notes.

Southeast Notes: Fultz, Bamba, Bonga, Borrego

Magic guard Markelle Fultz is confident he’ll play effectively in the league restart. He told Josh Robbins of The Athletic and other media members that he’s actually feeling better than he did before the stoppage of play in March. “Right now I actually feel really good,” he said. “I think it’s just a matter of getting those reps up in a game.”

Fultz arrived at the Orlando campus late due to a personal matter and didn’t start practicing until July 17, but played in the Magic’s scrimmage against the Nuggets on Monday.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic have limited the minutes of big man Mohamed Bamba after he added 20 pounds to his frame during the shutdown, according to Chris Hays of The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando coach Steve Clifford wants to make sure Bamba can play at a high level while carrying the extra weight but Bamba is irritated by the plan. “It is difficult to not be frustrated because at the end of the day, you want to go out there and be able to play,” he said.
  • The Wizards’ Isaac Bonga‘s $1.66MM salary for next season is not guaranteed but he’s making a strong impression during scrimmages in Orlando, according to NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes“He impacts the game because of his enthusiasm and his effort and just his spirit,” coach Scott Brooks said of the young big. “Everyone wants to play with him because he just plays so hard. He makes the right plays. He’s not thirsty out there.”
  • Hornets coach James Borrego wants players who have more than just talent, as he explained to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. Borrego values players who are passionate and hungry. “Players who care about their team, care about their teammates. Who want to get better, have a curiosity (how) to get better,” he said. “Have an appetite to want to get better. To have an appetite to be part of something bigger than themselves.”

Hornets Notes: Offseason, Washington, Monk, Hernangomez

The Hornets lobbied to be included in the NBA’s restart this summer and are “very disappointed” not to be part of it, president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak said on Tuesday, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. However, Kupchak and head coach James Borrego accepted the league’s decision and will be satisfied with an opportunity to conduct team activities this summer.

As Bonnell details, Borrego thinks it would make sense for the bottom eight teams not invited to Orlando to be permitted to practice while the other 22 clubs are playing at Disney in August.

“The amount of time they’re spending with their teams and their players as a unit, we believe we should have the same. That would level the playing field a little bit more,” Borrego said. “For me, it’s more about the time that we have (to work with players and to scrimmage) — that it syncs with what (other teams are) getting in Orlando — and also the live play, which we don’t get a lot in the summer.”

Here’s more on the Hornets:

  • Also within that Bonnell article linked above: Borrego said he thought P.J. Washington should be on this season’s All-Rookie First Team, and Kupchak said that the Hornets are still in talent-acquisition mode rather than focusing on fit. “At some point, we’ll hopefully be that advanced, to sit down and talk about, ‘Hey, we’ve got five or six guys with great talent, now how do they fit together?'” Kupchak said, according to Bonnell. “I don’t think we’re there right now.”
  • In a separate article for The Observer, Bonnell digs into whether the Hornets have any realistic paths to acquiring a star player.
  • Now that Malik Monk has been reinstated following his drug suspension, he’s set to enter a big year in 2020/21. As Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer writes, the Hornets may have to move on from Monk next year if he doesn’t take a noticeable step forward after three up-and-down seasons.
  • Willy Hernangomez will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, but he said today that he plans to remain in Charlotte for most or all of the summer, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Hernangomez added that he’d “love” to re-sign with the Hornets if possible.I love Charlotte, I love the group of guys we have,” he said, per Bonnell (Twitter links). “I want to be part of the young core that we have.”

Southeast Notes: Borrego, Adebayo, Heat, Wizards

Hornets head coach James Borrego has developed a notable recruiting pitch for impending free agents this summer, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes.

Charlotte is slated to have a respectable amount of salary-cap space after the season, allowing the team to consider multiple talents that are set to reach the open market.

“I feel like basically every guy we’ve drafted has shown some real promise for us,” Borrego explained this past week, as relayed by Bonnell. “What that leads into is what an attractive place this could be for free agents moving forward.”

The Hornets are establishing a proven track record of developing talent, currently sporting a young core that consists of Devonte’ Graham, Miles Bridges, P.J. Washington, and more. Charlotte showed flashes of potential with its young nucleus prior to the NBA’s hiatus. However, the team was just 23-42 on the season, the sixth-worst record in the East.

“Absolutely!” Borrego said when asked if his team’s pitch could attract free agents this summer. “Players are looking at (salary) numbers and years — that’s a major factor — but they want to go to a place where they can maximize growth and development. We’re putting a good body of work together to show that.”

Here are some other notes from the Southeast Division:

  • Heat center Bam Adebayo chimed in on social media amidst the NBA’s hiatus, as relayed by Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. Adebayo understandably expressed boredom with the league being suspended indefinitely. The 22-year-old has averaged 16.2 points, 10.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 65 contests on the season.
  • Ira Winderman examines the week that could’ve been for the Heat in a separate article for the Sun Sentinel, including the rematch between Jimmy Butler and T.J. Warren on March 20. Miami has enjoyed a successful season to date, owning the fourth-best record in the East at 41-24.
  • Chris Miller of NBC Sports Washington takes a look at what different Wizards players are doing during the NBA’s hiatus. As Miller notes, many players are enjoying personal activities such as playing video games, watching movies, or watching TV shows.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Bertans, Adebayo, Young

Hornets head coach James Borrego has a unique way of keeping rookie forwards Caleb Martin and Jalen McDaniels galvanized to give maximum effort in Charlotte, as Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer relays. If their play is not to the level of their teammates, they will be sent down to develop with the team’s G League affiliate the Greensboro Swam.

“It’s their job to put pressure on me to keep them here,” Borrego said. “For them to stay in our program right now, there is a level of accountability, there is a level of professionalism they need to carry themselves with.” Small forward Martin went undrafted out of Nevada, while power forward McDaniels was selected by the Hornets with the No. 52 pick out of San Diego State.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Wizards big man Davis Bertans, an unrestricted free agent in 2020, credits coach Scott Brooks with letting him develop his shooting stroke, per Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News.
  • Newly-minted Heat All-Star Bam Adebayo was confident coming into the season that he could make the All-Star team if he hit certain statistical benchmarks and his team was winning, according to Khobi Price of the Miami Sun-Sentinel. His goal was averaging 16 PPG, 10 RPG and 5 APG in a winning environment. He is currently averaging 15.8 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.9 assists for the 35-19 Heat, alongside fellow All-Star Jimmy Butler“I guess my prediction was right,” Adebayo said during media availability Saturday.
  • To take the leap from All-Star to MVP, second year Hawks point guard Trae Young must evolve on defense, according to Scott Gleeson of USA Today.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Heat, Olynyk, Magic

Hornets head coach James Borrego had done an admirable job this season finding plenty of playing time for his youngsters without alienating the veterans on the roster, as Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer details.

Borrego vowed during the preseason that he wouldn’t let salaries dictate which players get the most minutes and has stuck to that approach as his team, which currently holds the No. 9 seed in the East, has exceeded expectations. Devonte’ Graham, Terry Rozier, PJ Washington, and Miles Bridges are the top four Hornets in minutes per game, but vets like Cody Zeller, Nicolas Batum, and Bismack Biyombo have had regular roles too.

“I feel like he has made us older guys a part of this thing as well,” Hornets forward Marvin Williams said of Borrego. “Obviously, Nic would love to play more, but he’s a team player. There are times when I maybe would like to play more, but that’s not my job (to decide).”

As Borrego looks to continue striking that balance while keeping Charlotte competitive, let’s round up a few more notes from around the Southeast…

  • For the five years following LeBron James‘ departure in 2014, the Heat were almost exactly a .500 team, averaging just under 42 wins per season. However, the club is on pace to rack up 56 wins in 2019/20. In an entertaining feature, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Tim Bontemps take a look at how team president Pat Riley and free agent addition Jimmy Butler – along with rising star Bam Adebayo – have helped revitalize the franchise.
  • After spending most of the season outside of the Heat‘s rotation, James Johnson has played rotation minutes in three of the team’s last four games, while it’s Kelly Olynyk who finds himself getting DNP-CDs. Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel examines the evolving roles for the two Miami bigs and how they’re responding.
  • One day after they ended point guard Josh Magette‘s 10-day contract, the Magic find themselves without D.J. Augustin (knee) and Michael Carter-Williams (shoulder) for Wednesday’s game vs. the Lakers. Asked about that roster decision, head coach Steve Clifford admitted that the return of Augustin’s knee soreness “caught us totally off-guard,” tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Magette 10-day deal would’ve run through January 20 if it hadn’t been terminated early.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Winslow, Carter, Herro

At the midpoint of the Hornets‘ 2019/20 NBA season, the team has shown growth under second-year head coach James Borrego, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer notes.

Bonnell goes on to report that the Hornets are the only team with a losing record that is still among the top-10 in the league in net rating in clutch time, thanks mostly to the clutch play of promising youngsters Devonte’ Graham, PJ Washington and even the 25-year-old Terry Rozier. Bonnell cautions optimistic fans that just two of the team’s 15 victories came against teams with winning records, and notes that the 15-26 team is still firmly in rebuild mode.

Rozier, an expensive free-agent gamble inked this summer to a three-year, $57MM contract to be the team’s starting point guard, has become effective as the team’s starting shooting guard after the ascendant Graham emerged as the best option to run the point for the Hornets.

Bonnell wonders if the 6’1″ Rozier can be a long-term fit as the team’s shooting guard, and whether forwards PJ Washington and Miles Bridges, similarly built at 6’7″, can truly coexist starting alongside each other in the frontcourt long term. Bonnell feels that shooting guard and center should be the Hornets’ next big positional targets in the 2020 NBA draft.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Heat guard Justise Winslow, in the first season of a three-year, $39MM contract extension, has been saddled with several maladies this season. He has appeared in just 11 of a possible 38 games for Miami. Ira Winderman of the Florida Sun-Sentinel opines that Winslow has an incentive to return to the court quickly and be effective for the Heat, as the third season of his extension during 2021/22 is a team option.
  • Evergreen Hawks veteran swingman Vince Carter, the 42-year-old surefire Hall of Famer who will retire this spring after spending parts of four decades in the NBA, isn’t letting his age detract from his effort on defense. Mike DePrisco of NBC Sports Washington observes that Carter tried to draw a charge call at half-court against a charging Ish Smith, 31. “Trust me, I’ve been run over by Shaq,” Carter said. “So as he long as he doesn’t hit me in my knees I’m good.”
  • Heat rookie wing Tyler Herro is confident of his standing among his fellow NBA freshmen, according to the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson. “I just know what me and [fellow Heat rookie] Kendrick Nunn got going on,” Herro said. “I think I’m one of the best rookies in this class for sure. Obviously there’s a lot of great rookies with Ja Morant and RJ [Barrett]… But I feel we have two of the best rookies.”

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Vinsanity, Magic, Wizards

Hornets player development coach Nick Friedman has been tasked with improving the on-court performances of young players like Caleb Martin and Jalen McDaniels, who spend time with both the Hornets and their G League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, The Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell reports. Friedman operates as a liaison for Hornets head coach James Borrego.

Player development via the G League worked wonders in the 2018/19 season for Devonte’ Graham (who spent 13 games in Greensboro) and Dwayne Bacon (17 games). Graham is enjoying a breakout sophomore season in Charlotte, averaging 19.0 PPG and 7.9 APG for the 15-23 Hornets, who are just two games out of the No. 8 seed in the East.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • 42-year-old Hawks wing Vince Carter became the first NBA player to suit up for teams in four different decades when he stepped onto the hardwood for Atlanta’s 116-111 defeat of the Pacers, Tory Barron of ESPN writes. The eight-time All-Star, who is playing in his record-setting 22nd season, notched a +7 plus-minus rating in 18 minutes. Barron notes that 36 NBA players who have logged one minute or more in a game this season were born after Carter’s league debut on February 5th, 1999.
  • Following injuries to versatile forwards Jonathan Isaac and Al-Farouq Aminu, the Magic are considering filling their vacant 15th roster spot, according to The Athletic’s Josh Robbins (Twitter link).
  • Although several injuries have required 11-24 Wizards to adjust their bench, it has remained among the league’s best, as Candace Buckner of The Washington Post reports. The Wizards’ bench has averaged 70 points per contest in their last five games, 14.4 PPG clear of the next-most prolific bench over the same period, the Pistons. The bench scored 92 points against the Nuggets and 80 points against the Heat, the two highest second unit marks in franchise history. “No matter who we’re plugging in, that’s the way we want to play,” backup guard Ish Smith observed.