James Johnson

Northwest Notes: Gobert, Jazz, Morris, J. Johnson

Jazz center Rudy Gobert, who recorded the NBA’s first positive test for COVID-19, still hasn’t fully recovered from the virus. Gobert, whose test results sparked the league-wide shutdown, describes his symptoms in an interview with L’Equip (translation provided by BasketUSA).

The taste has returned, but the smell is still not 100%,” Gobert said. “I can smell the smells, but not from afar. I spoke to specialists, who told me that it could take up to a year.”

Gobert is eager to start playing again, saying he hasn’t been part of a five-on-five game since the hiatus began. He has been boxing, swimming and running in the mountains, but had a physical reaction last month that he said felt like “ants in my toes.” Gobert also talked about shouldering the blame for the shutdown.

The NBA was waiting for a first case to stop the championship, it fell on me!” he said. “I became the image of the coronavirus for the Americans, the domino that triggered the end of the season, but it was not I who brought the virus to the United States. ”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Jazz will bring a fully healthy team to Orlando, except for Bojan Bogdanovic, who had surgery on his right wrist last month, coach Quin Snyder tells Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. Snyder also expressed support for his players who are advocating for social justice, such as Donovan Mitchell and Jordan Clarkson.
  • Nuggets guard Monte Morris has used the frustration of sliding in the 2017 draft as incentive to prove he belongs in the NBA, writes Steve Kosmider of the Athletic. Morris was projected as a first-rounder in some circles, but went to Denver with the 51st pick and had to work his way up from a two-way contract. “I was really mad about it,” Morris recalled. “Guys I dominated in college on multiple occasions were getting picked ahead of me. I got hurt during the draft process. I pulled my quad at the Laker workout, which was like my third workout. I still had about 15 workouts to go. I feel like if I had did them I would have moved up. I only worked out for three teams so that may have hurt me, but I still think my resume, doing what I did at Iowa State, should have had me going higher.”
  • James Johnson is certain to exercise his $16MM option and remain with the Timberwolves next season, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Johnson provides a veteran presence on a young team and is a vocal leader in the locker room.

Western Notes: Leonard, Giles, Johnson, Blazers

Clippers coach Doc Rivers isn’t worried about his stars getting out of shape during the NBA’s hiatus, he told ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk and other reporters. “I know (Kawhi Leonard is) overworking. I can guarantee you that,” Rivers said. “And the difference is, during the summer, Kawhi couldn’t work, you know, so now he’s got this break and he’s able to train. The Kawhi we’ll see will be in phenomenal shape. PG (Paul George) is another guy that’s going to be in phenomenal shape.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Kings center Harry Giles is likely to be playing elsewhere next season, according to James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. His original coaching and training staff are gone and the franchise didn’t pick up his contract option for next season, Ham notes. Giles, who will be an unrestricted free agent, did enough during his opportunities this season to intrigue plenty of teams, Ham adds.
  • Big man James Johnson is a solid reserve but not the answer as a starter alongside Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic opines. Johnson gave the club a boost in 14 games after being acquired in a three-team deal, averaging 12.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG and 3.8 APG in 24.1 MPG. Johnson will surely exercise his $16MM player option for next season and the team hopes he can pick up where he left off.
  • Zach Cooper, a video assistant for the Trail Blazers, has died unexpectedly due to undisclosed reasons, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. “I am devastated by the news of Zach’s passing,” head coach Terry Stotts said in a statement. “He was a valued member of our staff, but more importantly, he was an outstanding young man who everyone loved and appreciated.”

Northwest Notes: Russell, Johnson, SGA, MPJ

The Timberwolves were hit with a $25K fine by the NBA on Thursday for violating the league’s resting policy when they sat D’Angelo Russell a week ago despite D-Lo being considered a healthy player. Following that decision, the Wolves faced accusations of tanking, but president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas insists that’s not the case, as Chris Hine of The Star Tribune writes.

“I wouldn’t say it gets under my skin, but it’s just disappointing when you don’t have all the facts,” Rosas said of claims that the Timberwolves are tanking. “The reality is if individuals knew what was going on behind the scenes, how hard our coaches are working, our players are working — that’s the disappointing part because I think it’s disrespectful to them and what they’re putting in.

“… The side effects (of the Timberwolves’ midseason roster overhaul) unfortunately for Coach (Ryan Saunders) and his staff is you have nine players from three different programs, three different philosophies that are coming here and learning on the fly what we’re trying to do,” Rosas continued. “When you’re playing good teams like we’re playing, you get exposed. That’s the stage we’re at. But to say we’re not focused day in, day out on winning? That’s false and inaccurate.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • While he was hardly the biggest name of the players acquired by the Timberwolves at the deadline, James Johnson has quickly emerged as a team leader in Minnesota, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. “If James told me to jump off a cliff I would do it yesterday,” Josh Okogie said of his new teammate. “He’s been great for us, and we’ve been following his lead.”
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander‘s breakout year and budding stardom is giving the Thunder plenty to think about as they contemplate a potential rebuild, writes ESPN’s Royce Young. If Gilgeous-Alexander has All-NBA upside, it likely reduces the odds of the team fully bottoming out in the next couple seasons.
  • Nick Kosmider of The Athletic attempts to make sense of Michael Porter Jr.‘s reduced playing time for the Nuggets, arguing that it’s time to let the second-year forward reclaim a more impactful role.

Timberwolves Notes: Spellman, Russell, Johnson

The Timberwolves are not planning to waive big man Omari Spellman, though it’s a possibility, according to Darren Wolfson of KSTP. After discussions between his reps and the front office, Spellman is headed to G League affiliate Iowa to get some playing time and will likely finish the season with the organization (Twitter links).

Spellman was included in the deal that sent D’Angelo Russell to Minnesota. He was averaging 7.6 PPG and 4.5 RPG in 49 games with Golden State this season. His contract for next season is guaranteed but the club holds an option on the 2021/22 season.

We have more on the Timberwolves:

  • Russell doesn’t foresee a long transition before he develops chemistry with the team’s franchise player, Karl-Anthony Towns, John Krawczynski of The Athletic writes. “We know what we bring to the table,” Russell said. “It’s just about dissecting the film and bringing it together and seeing how we can take the weight off each other’s shoulders down the stretch, whenever we need him to make a play and vice versa.”
  • Forward James Johnson has embraced an elder statesman role with the team, according to Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Johnson, who turns 33 this month, had 15 points and five assists in his Minnesota debut. He was surrounded by a group of young players and provided a lot of instruction for them. “I loved the confidence he was instilling in those guys,” coach Ryan Saunders said. Johnson, who holds a $16MM option on his contract for next season, was acquired from Miami in a three-team trade last week.
  • Allen Crabbe and Evan Turner are the Timberwolves’ candidates to receive a buyout. Check out the latest on the buyout market here.

Scotto’s Latest: Gallinari, Nunn, Pacers, Nuggets, More

When the Thunder and Heat discussed a potential Danilo Gallinari trade leading up to last week’s deadline, James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Kendrick Nunn, and draft compensation were among the various assets that came up in talks, league sources tell Michael Scotto of Bleacher Report. Miami reportedly wanted to extend Gallinari’s contract as part of a deal, but couldn’t agree to terms with his camp, which is one main reason the trade didn’t happen.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote last week that he believed the Heat could’ve acquired Gallinari without surrendering any of their young players like Nunn. So even though his name came up in discussions, that doesn’t necessarily mean the Thunder would have insisted on his inclusion, depending on what other pieces were involved.

While Gallinari remained with the Thunder for this season, Scotto suggests the Heat and Knicks could be among his potential suitors this summer. Miami clearly has interest, and created some cap flexibility for 2020/21 by moving Johnson and Dion Waiters last week. New York, meanwhile, will have cap space and is hiring veteran CAA agent Leon Rose as its new president of basketball operations. Gallinari is a CAA client.

Here are a few more noteworthy tidbits from Scotto’s look at the post-deadline landscape:

  • The Knicks and Pacers discussed a possible Marcus Morris trade. According to Scotto, a package that featured Aaron Holiday, Doug McDermott, and T.J. Leaf was “briefly kicked around,” but didn’t end up going far.
  • McDermott’s name also came up in discussions about a potential Pacers trade with the Bucks involving Ersan Ilyasova, says Scotto. It’s not known which team initiated those talks.
  • Before the Cavaliers traded for Andre Drummond, they called the Pacers to ask about Myles Turner‘s availability, per Scotto. Indiana has remained firm on keeping Turner, though many executives expect the team to eventually break up its Turner/Domantas Sabonis frontcourt.
  • The Nuggets discussed the possibility of trading Gary Harris, Malik Beasley, and Juan Hernangomez as part of a package for Bulls guard Zach LaVine or Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, sources tell Scotto. New Orleans set a very high asking price for Holiday, while LaVine was said to be “off-limits” for Chicago, so Denver didn’t get far on either front.

Heat Acquire Iguodala, Crowder In Three-Team Trade

7:10pm: The trade is now official, according to press releases from the Timberwolves, Heat, and Grizzlies. Minnesota became part of the deal by agreeing to acquire Johnson for Gorgui Dieng, as we outlined in a separate story, making it a three-team trade.

11:16am: The Grizzlies and Heat have agreed to a trade that will send Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder, and Solomon Hill to Miami in exchange for Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters, and James Johnson, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). No draft picks will be included in the deal.

Shams Charania of The Athletic (all Twitter links) first reported that Crowder, Hill, and Waiters would be involved in the trade, which broke last night.

There’s still time for the agreement to be expanded to include the Thunder and Danilo Gallinari, but those talks between Oklahoma City and Miami have “fully stalled,” according to Woj (Twitter link).

The Heat were hoping to fold an acquisition of the veteran forward into the trade, perhaps extending his contract in the process. However, Wojnarowski tweets that the Grizzlies and Heat are focusing on officially finalizing a two-team deal for now, with Miami still unable to reach an agreement for Gallinari.

Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald has heard similar rumblings, tweeting that Crowder and Hill could be re-routed to Oklahoma City if the deal is expanded to include Gallinari, but for now Hill is under the impression he’ll end up in Miami, along with Crowder.

Even if the Heat can’t land Gallinari, they’ll add three veterans capable of playing rotation roles in Iguodala, Crowder, and Hill. Although Iguodala hasn’t appeared in a game at all since being traded from Golden State to Memphis in July, he played key minutes on the Warriors’ championship teams in recent years and will be well-rested for the stretch run.

As we detailed in a previous story, Iguodala and the Heat have reached an agreement on a two-year, $30MM contract extension as part of the trade. The second season of Iguodala’s extension will reportedly be a team option, allowing Miami to retain its financial flexibility to participate in a loaded free agent class in 2021. The Heat are expected to guarantee the second season of Iguodala’s deal for if they miss out on their top free agent targets in ’21, per Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Crowder and Hill, meanwhile, have helped the Grizzlies exceed expectations and compete for a playoff spot this season. Crowder has started 45 games, averaging 9.9 PPG and 6.2 RPG and playing strong perimeter defense, while Hill has averaged 5.7 PPG with a .381 3PT% in 48 games (18.8 MPG).

The trade will also help the Heat out financially, since they’re sending out more money than they’re taking back. ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets that Miami is now $3.4MM below its hard cap and reduced its projected tax bill by nearly $3.7MM. That could allow the Heat to be a player in the buyout market, though the team still has a full 15-man roster.

The franchise also cleared a significant amount of salary for 2020/21 in the deal, though Iguodala’s extension cuts into that newfound flexibility a little.

As for the Grizzlies, they’ll take on three pricey multiyear contracts in exchange for their three expiring deals. Having also extended Dillon Brooks on Wednesday, Memphis has gone from having $50MM in projected cap room to likely being over the cap this summer, tweets Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights.

Winslow is the prize of the deal for Memphis. The former lottery pick is under contract for $13MM annually through 2021/22, with a team option on the final year. Winslow has flashed tantalizing upside as a ball-handler and defender, but injuries have limited him to just 11 games this season. He’s currently sidelined with a lower back bone bruise.

Johnson and Waiters are on oversized contracts — Johnson is earning $15.35MM this season with a $16.05MM player option for 2020/21, while Waiters is owed $12.1MM this season and $12.65MM next year. Memphis’ willingness to take on those deals signals that the team is willing to roll over its cap room to 2021.

Both Johnson and Waiters have spent much of the season in the doghouse in Miami, but Johnson has at least appeared in 18 games, averaging 5.7 PPG and 2.9 RPG on .448/.356/.571 shooting in 15.6 minutes per contest.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Wolves, Grizzlies Swap James Johnson, Gorgui Dieng

UPDATE: This trade is now official. See this story for more details.

The Timberwolves and Grizzlies have agreed to a trade that will send forward James Johnson to Minnesota and big man Gorgui Dieng to Memphis, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Johnson is technically still a member of the Heat but is being traded to Memphis in the six-player Andre Iguodala trade. The Dieng deal with the Wolves may be folded into that transaction to make it a three-team trade, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

As Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian observes (via Twitter), swapping Johnson for Dieng will add a little more salary to Memphis’ books this season and next year, but the Grizzlies view the big man as a better fit on their depth chart.

Dieng, who is under contract for $16.23MM in 2019/20 and $17.29MM in 2020/21, has averaged 7.4 PPG and 5.6 RPG in 46 games (16.9 MPG). He was particularly effective during Karl-Anthony Towns‘ injury absence, posting 12.9 PPG and 8.9 RPG on .463/.409/.806 shooting in 15 starts during that time.

Johnson is making approximately $15.34MM this season and holds a $16MM option for next season. By trimming more payroll, the Tiimberwolves will be just $1.1MM above the luxury tax line with this move, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets.

Both teams have been extremely active prior to the deadline, as Minnesota was also part of four-team blockbuster that landed it D’Angelo Russell.

Latest On The Andre Iguodala Trade

Negotiations are continuing in an effort to make the deal sending Andre Iguodala to Miami a three-way trade that would also enable the Heat to acquire Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

One way the Heat could facilitate trade talks is to remove protections on a lottery-protected 2023 first-round draft pick they owe to Oklahoma City, sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link). That would free up Miami to unconditionally trade its 2025 first-rounder, explains Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (Twitter link).

Because of hard-cap restrictions, Miami will need to send out at least $39.8MM in salary to fit Iguodala ($17.2MM) and Gallinari ($22.6MM) on its roster, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). He notes that Justise Winslow, who is already believed to be part of the deal, Dion Waiters and James Johnson add up to $40.4MM.

Johnson’s representatives tell Jackson that they are expecting their client to be included in the transaction, but several other teams have expressed interest as well (Twitter link). Jackson identifies the Bucks, Rockets and Timberwolves as teams that have inquired about the veteran forward.

Meanwhile, the Grizzlies held Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill out of Wednesday’s game in Dallas, and Dillon Brooks spoke after the game as if they were being traded, though that hasn’t been confirmed (video link via ESPN’s Tim MacMahon). Moving Crowder and Hill along with Iguodala would allow Memphis to take back up to $47MM+ in salary, if necessary.

In an interview with Marc J. Spears of the Undefeated, Iguodala said he plans to join the Heat and take his physical in Sacramento on Friday. He’s excited to be coming to Miami, but after not playing since June he isn’t sure when he’ll be ready to be activated (Twitter link).

Jimmy Butler is very well respected in terms of passion and hard work he brings to the game,” Iguodala said. “His temperament and values he has really resonates with the Heat. They’re very well aligned. He’s brought out the most in those young guys. Those are some of the guys I’m really excited about. I feel I can make the most impact with those guys. I’m a big fan of Bam [Adebayo]. … Really looking forward to playing with him. … Been hearing about him last couple of years. Help him get better. Really excited about that opportunity.”

Heat Notes: Winslow, Silva, Johnson, Adebayo

Justise Winslow is expected to see a back specialist this week after leaving the Heat during their current road trip, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Winslow missed 15 straight games with a lower-back bruise before playing 16 minutes Wednesday in Indiana. However, he didn’t play last night and was already ruled out of tomorrow’s game.

“It didn’t respond the way we would have liked, so we’re going to take a step back,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But certainly we don’t feel comfortable.”

Injuries have limited Winslow to just 11 games in his first season after signing a three-year, $39MM extension. He is averaging 11.3 PPG, but shooting just 38.8% from the field. Most of his minutes have gone to Derrick Jones Jr.

There’s more from Miami:

  • Expect the Heat to convert Chris Silva‘s two-way contract into a multi-year deal this week, a source tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Silva is running out of NBA days on his current contract, and Tuesday is the first day that Miami can accommodate another player on a standard deal under its hard cap restrictions. The team may offer a contract three years or longer so it will have Bird rights on Silva, just as it did with Kendrick Nunn. Wednesday is the last day this season that players can be signed to two-way contracts, so the Heat will have to act quickly to lock up Silva’s replacement.
  • Team president Pat Riley took a positive tone in a recent meeting with James Johnson and Dion Waiters, Jackson writes in a separate story. Riley was hoping to point both players in a better direction after Johnson failed to meet conditioning standards in training camp and Waiters racked up three early-season suspensions. “It was just the three of us,” Johnson said. “It was heartfelt, all encouragement. He’s got our back. That meeting was one of our new leaf-turners. It was an eye opener but also a relief.” A source tells Jackson that the Heat have decided not to risk a battle with the players union by attempting to void Waiters’ contract.
  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich provided some motivation with his message to Bam Adebayo when he was cut from the U.S. World Cup team this summer, Jackson relays in another piece. “He said I wasn’t ready,” Adebayo said. “Everybody has their opinions, so I guess it was his opinion I wasn’t ready.” A strong candidate for an All-Star berth, Adebayo will face Popovich and the Spurs on Wednesday.

Charania’s Latest: Holiday, Zion, Nuggets, Knicks

Earlier today, we passed along Shams Charania’s report of Dewayne Dedmon wanting out of Sacramento. The big man hasn’t played in eight of the last 10 games for the Kings and both sides believe that the situation is unsalvagable.

Charania also passed along other tidbits from around the league in his latest piece on The Athletic. Here are the highlights:

  • One of Jrue Holiday‘s priorities is being in a winning situation, a source tells Charania, and that’s not something the Pelicans are currently providing him. Rival teams believe that Holiday is the type of piece who would help lift a team to a new level. The Nuggets and Heat are believed to be possible destinations should David Griffin trade the point guard, Charania notes.
  • Zion Williamson is expected to begin contract drills and practices within the next week or two and the Pelicans want the No. 1 overall pick to continue to get leaner prior to his return. The franchise has focused on refining his eating habits as well. Charania adds the Pelicans “fully anticipate” Williamson playing this season.
  • The Nuggets are open to dealing Juan Hernangomez and Malik Beasley, though both players have high asking prices. Some rival executives expect the team to move both Hernangomez and Beasley, as each restricted free agent is expected to garner a lucrative deal in free agency.
  • The Heat have not closed the door on Dion Waiters playing for the team again. Pat Riley recently met with Waiters and James Johnson, making it clear to each that Miami would like to reintegrate both players into team activities.
  • Rival teams believe Dennis Smith Jr. would prefer a trade from the Knicks and several clubs have inquired about the point guard.
  • We’ve seen several G-League call ups this season and James Palmer Jr., who is playing for the Agua Caliente Clippers, could be next, Charania writes.