James Johnson

Eastern Notes: Pacers, Knicks, Madar, Nets, Wizards

While it’s not out of the question that the Pacers will make a major trade this offseason, the team isn’t any rush to move Myles Turner or Malcolm Brogdon, the two names that pop up most frequently in Pacers-related trade rumors, writes J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star.

Of those two players, Turner is less likely to be dealt, according to Michael, who suggests that new head coach Rick Carlisle would like to try to figure out the best way to maximize the Turner/Domantas Sabonis duo. It’s possible Carlisle will split up the two Pacers bigs and have Turner come off the bench to start the season, Michael adds.

As for Brogdon, the Pacers have been trying to determine whether he’s the right long-term fit as the team’s point guard and leader, according to Michael. As Michael details, Indiana had some locker room issues in 2020/21 and president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard suggested at the end of the season that the club lacked vocal leadership. The Pacers may expect more in that regard from Brogdon going forward.

Here’s more from around the East:

  • The Knicks, who remain on the lookout for another point guard, have some interest in Dennis Schröder, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Berman also says New York contacted Elfrid Payton at the start of free agency, though it’s unclear if the club views him as a viable fallback option.
  • Yam Madar, the 47th overall pick in the 2020 draft, hopes to play for the Celtics this season, he told reporters on Tuesday. As Jared Weiss of The Athletic tweets, Boston’s plan is to see how Madar’s Summer League stint goes and to evaluate its options from there.
  • Nets star Kevin Durant is thrilled that Blake Griffin is set to return to the team for another season, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “To have Blake back, I’m so excited,” Durant said from Tokyo. “I mean, as soon as the season was over, I was telling him that we want him back and telling him that, you know, we should try to do it again. And I was glad to see it get done.” In a separate story, Lewis confirms that James Johnson‘s new deal with Brooklyn is worth the veteran’s minimum.
  • After recently announcing a new deal for NHL star Alex Ovechkin, the centerpiece of his other franchise, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis discussed the contrast between how things played out with Ovechkin and Russell Westbrook, per Emily Kaplan of ESPN. “We had a superstar player with the Wizards, he had an opportunity and wanted to be traded to the Lakers,” Leonsis said. “And I was dealing with that as we were announcing Alex. I couldn’t help but self-reflect on what a difference it is. Here’s a great player in Russell Westbrook, played in OKC, wanted to be traded, went to Houston, wanted to be traded, came to D.C., wanted to be traded and is now in L.A. He’s an unbelievably great person and an unbelievably great player. But that’s the difference between the NBA and the NHL, I suppose.”

James Johnson Signs With Nets

AUGUST 6: The Nets and Johnson have made it official, per a team press release.


AUGUST 3: Free agent forward James Johnson will join the Nets on a one-year deal, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Johnson, 34, divided last season between the Mavericks and Pelicans, averaging a combined 7.2 points and 3.5 rebounds in 51 games.

Johnson is known for his toughness, size, and length, which allows him to guard multiple positions and comfortably switch on defense. He will provide another veteran big man off the bench for Brooklyn, which is losing Jeff Green to the Nuggets.

With the Nets already in luxury tax territory, Johnson’s deal is likely for the veteran’s minimum.

Fischer’s Latest: Mavs, Fournier, Rockets, Drummond, Gasol

The Mavericks ended up making just one relatively modest move at the trade deadline, acquiring J.J. Redick and Nicolo Melli in a trade with New Orleans. However, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, that deal may have been a fail-safe option for Dallas as the team explored other options leading up to last Thursday afternoon.

As Fischer explains, the Mavericks also explored a trade that would have sent James Johnson and two second-round pick to Orlando in a package for Evan Fournier. The Magic ultimately chose a similar offer from Boston that allowed them to create a $17MM+ trade exception instead of taking back a matching salary like Johnson’s.

The Mavericks also spoke to the Rockets about Victor Oladipo, sources tell Fischer, but those talks didn’t gain momentum.

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • During the James Harden trade talks earlier in the year, the Rockets never projected much interest in hanging onto Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert as part of that deal, Fischer says. Houston didn’t view Allen as a long-term frontcourt fit alongside Christian Wood and wanted to roll the dice on Oladipo recapturing his All-NBA form, a gamble that didn’t work out.
  • Fischer lists the Raptors, Bulls, Mavericks, Clippers, Celtics, Heat, Hornets, Nets, Knicks, and Lakers as teams that showed some level of interest in Cavaliers center Andre Drummond before he was bought out, but none of those clubs could ultimately put together a package that matched the big man’s $28.75MM salary and also appealed to Cleveland. After he was bought out, Drummond was intrigued by the Celtics and spoke to Boston point guard (and fellow UConn alum) Kemba Walker, but ultimately decided to sign with the Lakers.
  • With Drummond now in Los Angeles, some executives are wondering whether the Lakers will consider buying out Marc Gasol, per Fischer. “When they get fully healthy, it’s gonna be a logjam,” one assistant GM said, referring to a frontcourt that also features big men Anthony Davis and Montrezl Harrell, along with power forwards LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma. It’s worth noting Gasol has a second guaranteed year on his contract, though it’s only worth the minimum.

Pelicans Trade Redick, Melli To Mavs; Lonzo Ball Stays Put

MARCH 26: The trade is now official, according to announcement from thes Mavericks (Twitter link) and Pelicans.


MARCH 25: The Pelicans won’t be trading point guard Lonzo Ball at today’s deadline, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). However, New Orleans has agreed to a deal that will send J.J. Redick to the Mavericks, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The Pelicans will receive James Johnson, Wesley Iwundu, and a 2021 second-round pick in exchange for Redick and Nicolo Melli, a source tells Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter links). New Orleans also received cash from the Mavericks in the deal, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Charania initially reported that the Redick deal would be a three-team trade that also sent Trey Lyles from the Spurs to Dallas, but has since clarified that it will just be a direct trade between the Pelicans and Mavs.

Redick, who was averaging 8.7 PPG in 31 appearances off the bench, had expressed a desire to be dealt to a team in the Northeast, where his family resides. He’ll have to wait until the offseason to make that happen but he’ll provide the Mavericks with another 3-point threat off the bench. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent.

Melli reportedly wanted out after seeing his playing time decline in his second NBA season. He’s only appeared in 22 games this season. He can be a restricted free agent if Dallas decides to extend a $4.87MM qualifying offer. The Mavs will keep Melli at least through the end of this season, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News tweets.

Johnson has an expiring $16MM contract. He’s averaging 5.7 PPG and 3.0 RPG in 29 games this season and gives the Pelicans another frontcourt option. Iwundu has seen action in 23 games this season but has only averaged 2.1 PPG in 12.5 MPG during those outings. He has another year left on his contract but his 2021/22 salary is just $1.82MM.

As for Ball, the Bulls, Knicks, Clippers, Nuggets and Sixers had all been linked to the former No. 2 pick to varying degrees in recent weeks, but New Orleans didn’t find a package attractive enough to deal its current floor leader.

The Pelicans will have to decide after the season whether to extend Ball a $14.36MM qualifying offer and make him a restricted free agent, or let him enter the market unrestricted. Assuming they extend that QO, as is expected, they’ll then have to weigh how aggressive they’re willing to be when it comes to a long-term contract offer.

Ball is averaging 14.2 PPG and 5.6 APG for the Pelicans, who are a disappointing five games below .500.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.

Western Notes: Johnson, Redick, Blazers, Jensen

Mavericks forward James Johnson missed five games for Dallas due to both traveling for a family emergency and then needing to enter COVID-19 protocols, but the veteran enforcer rejoined the Mavericks for a team practice today, according to Dwain Price of Mavs.com. Johnson can return to the hardwood tomorrow for the club’s game against the Timberwolves, Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com (Twitter link) adds.

“We don’t get that much chemistry going on throughout this [COVID-19] thing, and how we have to be separated a lot,” Johnson noted of this unique 2020/21 season. “The times that we can get it are at practice and on the road, and I miss that.”

There’s more out of the Western Conference:

  • Veteran Pelicans wing J.J. Redick is most likely to be bought out of his expiring $13MM contract after the trade deadline passes, and ink a deal with a team on the East Coast to be near his family, sources tell Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons and forward Nassir Little have entered the NBA’s coronavirus health and safety protocols and are missing at least this evening’s contest against the Nets, Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com tweets.
  • Jazz assistant coach Alex Jensen has been given the go-ahead by the team to interview for the head coaching gig with his alma matter, the University of Utah, according to Jeff Goodman of Stadium (via Twitter). Brandon Judd of the Deseret News notes that Jensen, a former Utes player, has been on the Jazz’s bench since 2013.

Trade Rumors: Gordon, Bagley, Collins, Turner, Nuggets, Mavs

Magic forward Aaron Gordon continues to be one of the most intriguing trade candidates leading up to Thursday’s deadline, with a Monday report indicating that the Celtics are believed to be the frontrunners for him. Boston reportedly offered two first-round picks and may be eyeing a bigger deal that also features Marcus Smart and Evan Fournier, as Sam Amick of The Athletic confirms.

According to Amick, the Nuggets are currently viewed as the second-strongest suitor for Gordon. Denver has done a good deal of research on the veteran forward in an attempt to determine how well he’d fit the team’s system and culture, sources tell The Athletic.

The Rockets were considered a serious threat to land Gordon at one point, but they no longer to be among the favorites. As Amick explains, the 25-year-old’s disinterest in signing a longer-term extension with Houston may dissuade the club from giving up valuable assets for him. Gordon’s current contract is set to expire after the 2021/22 season.

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

  • The Kings, who reportedly offered Marvin Bagley III to Detroit in a proposal for Saddiq Bey, have also made Bagley available in discussions with the Hawks about John Collins, says Amick. The Celtics, meanwhile, have “cooled” on Collins due to concerns about how much he’ll cost to retain in restricted free agency, Amick adds.
  • The Pacers would have to be blown away by a “no-brainer” deal in order to trade Myles Turner this week, multiple sources tell J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. The Hornets, Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, and Pelicans are among the teams with interest in the big man, according to Michael, who says one three-team deal discussed last season would’ve sent Turner to New Orleans and Collins to Indiana.
  • The Nuggets and Mavericks remain on the lookout for wing help, with both clubs offering second-round picks and a veteran for salary-matching purposes (Gary Harris and James Johnson), per Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

Fischer’s Latest: Graham, Hornets, Mavs, Fournier, Knicks, More

While it remains unclear how LaMelo Ball‘s wrist injury will affect the potential availability of fellow Hornets guard Devonte’ Graham, some people around the league were already skeptical that Charlotte would trade Graham this week, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

“They’ll try to keep him, and they’re willing to pay,” one assistant general manager said of Graham, who is eligible for restricted free agency this summer. Team executives polled by Fischer estimated that it may cost about $13-16MM annually on a four-year deal for the Hornets to re-sign Graham.

Ball’s injury may make the Hornets less likely to address their center position with a one-year stopgap, but it shouldn’t discourage them from remaining on the lookout for a long-term solution, per ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

Both Fischer and Lowe reiterate that Pacers center Myles Turner is high on Charlotte’s wish list, which has been previously reported. Fischer also identifies Grizzlies big man Gorgui Dieng as a potential target for the Hornets and says Charlotte has also called the Lakers asking about Montrezl Harrell.

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • The Mavericks have been the “loudest rumored team” for Magic guard Evan Fournier, according to Fischer, who says that one possible package would consist of James Johnson and a pair of second-round picks.
  • The Hawks are worth keeping an eye on as a possible Victor Oladipo landing spot, says Fischer, adding that the team has made Bogdan Bogdanovic and Cam Reddish available.
  • The Knicks have signaled interest in using their $15MM in cap room to accommodate a three-team deal, per Fischer. Some people within the team’s front office are against the idea of surrendering any draft assets for a player who could be signed this summer.
  • Fischer adds the Rockets, Pacers, and Bulls to the list of teams that have looked into a possible acquisition of Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie. Miami, Detroit, and Toronto have previously been cited as possibilities for Dinwiddie.
  • Although the Pelicans and Bulls had some earlier discussions centered around Lauri Markkanen and Lonzo Ball, those talks haven’t seemed substantial, sources tell Fischer.

Southwest Notes: J. Johnson, Rockets, Nwaba, DeRozan

Mavericks forward James Johnson, who left the team over the weekend to attend a personal matter in Wyoming, missed a mandatory COVID-19 test and will be sidelined due to the health and safety protocols until he registers a certain number of negative tests, head coach Rick Carlisle said on Tuesday, per Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News.

Johnson is now back in Dallas, but he won’t be active for any of the Mavericks’ three remaining games this week, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News, who tweets that the earliest the veteran forward could be cleared is for the March 24 contest against Minnesota.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • In the latest episode of The HoopsHype Podcast, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype and Kelly Iko of The Athletic previewed the Rockets‘ trade deadline, discussing possible suitors for Victor Oladipo and P.J. Tucker, as well as other players who could be available. Iko believes Ben McLemore could be had for a second-round pick and suggests that Christian Wood is the closest thing to an untouchable player on the roster.
  • David Nwaba decided to forgo wrist surgery and play through the injury for the shorthanded Rockets, but he reaggravated the issue a couple games ago, putting surgery back on the table, according to head coach Stephen Silas, who said Nwaba is “probably going to be out for quite a bit” (video link via Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston).
  • Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan will miss a fourth consecutive game on Wednesday for personal reasons, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link).
  • Although the Pelicans suffered a brutal loss in Portland on Tuesday night, the decision to expand the rotation has served the team well, giving New Orleans’ young players a chance to see more minutes, writes Scott Kushner of NOLA.com.

And-Ones: Johnson, Martin, COVID-19 Protocols, Bender

Mavericks forward James Johnson and Hornets forwards Cody Martin and Caleb Martin have been fined for their roles in an on-court altercation on Wednesday, according to an NBA press release.

Johnson, who was ejected, was fined $40K for deliberately pushing Cody Martin out of bounds, aggressively confronting him, and initiating the incident. Cody, who was also ejected, was fined $25K for pushing Johnson in retaliation and making contact with a game official. Caleb Martin was fined $20K for entering the altercation and making contact with a game official.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • The NBA is planning to require players and many team staffers to wear sensor devices during all team-organized activities outside of games starting January 7, according to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes. The plan is aimed on improving its contact tracing program. Players and specific staff members, such as coaches, will be required to wear Kinexon SafeZone contact sensor devices on the team plane, the team bus, during practices and while traveling to and from the arena or their home practice facility.
  • The league is placing more responsibility on team officials to monitor and mete out discipline for COVID-19 protocol violations among players and staff, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. The NBA told teams that they’re required to notify the league office of any discipline imposed. The league office still holds the power to override team decisions on player punishments.
  • Maccabi Tel Aviv has extended the contract of former NBA big man Dragan Bender for the remainder of the season, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando writes. Bender signed with the Israeli team in September. Bender played seven games with the Bucks last season before being waived in February. He joined the Warriors on a pair of 10-day deals and averaged 9.0 PPG and 5.9 RPG in nine games before the hiatus began.

Southwest Notes: Harden, Cauley-Stein, Richardson, Popovich

NBA commissioner Adam Silver explained during an ESPN appearance that Rockets star James Harden didn’t face a suspension for violating COVID-19 protocols because the NBA didn’t want to set that harsh a precedent to start the season, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Harden was fined $50K after an NBA investigation found that Harden violated protocols when he attended an indoor party of 15 or more people.

“The precedent is that discipline gets ratcheted up,” Silver said. “It’s Christmas. It was a first offense.”

Silver said, adding “in a way he got lucky.” If the Rockets’ first game had not been postponed, Harden would have been docked one game’s pay, Feigen adds. Harden is expected to make his season debut on Saturday.

We have more from the Southwest Division: