Joakim Noah

Howard, Noah Impressive In Lakers Workouts

Dwight Howard and Joakim Noah both worked out for the Lakers Thursday and “left impressions that they could be helpful to the team,” tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Marreese Speights, who is also being considered for a roster spot, will hold his workout today.

L.A. is scrambling to find a replacement for free agent addition DeMarcus Cousins, who suffered a torn ACL last week. No timetable has been established for Cousins’ recovery, but it’s possible he will miss the entire season.

Howard is still under contract with the Grizzlies, but they have no plans to keep him on the roster after acquiring him from the Wizards this summer in a trade to cut salary. Memphis granted permission for Howard to audition for a role with the Lakers.

Noah remains unsigned after averaging 7.1 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 42 games for the Grizzlies last season. Speights spent the past season playing in China.

Lakers To Work Out Noah, Speights, Howard

The Lakers plan to work out free agent centers Joakim Noah and Marreese Speights as well as the Grizzlies’ Dwight Howard this week in Los Angeles, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Another NBA free agent, Marcin Gortat, could also come in for a look, Wojnarowski adds. The Lakers want to evaluate the physical condition and mindset of each player as they seek to replace DeMarcus Cousins.

Cousins suffered a torn ACL this month after he signed a one-year contract with the Lakers. Cousins could miss the entire season.

The Grizzlies had already granted the Lakers permission to meet with Howard. Memphis acquired him from the Wizards this offseason but he’s not part of their plans. The Grizzlies could make a trade or reach a buyout on his $5.6MM contract if the Lakers want him.

Noah averaged 7.1 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 41 games for Memphis last season after his woeful stint with the Knicks. He hasn’t drawn much attention on the free agent market, though he reportedly was being very selective about his next NBA destination.

Speights, who played in China last season, worked out in front of numerous NBA executives last month in Las Vegas.

Gortat was waived by the Clippers at the trade deadline last season and didn’t get picked up.

The Lakers currently have 14 players with guaranteed deals.

New Zealand Team Recruiting Joakim Noah

Joakim Noah has an opportunity to play for the New Zealand Breakers next season, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. The team is owned by Matt Walsh, Noah’s former teammate at Florida, who has been in charge of the recruiting effort.

The Breakers are pitching Noah on an arrangement similar to what Andrew Bogut had in Australia that enabled him to return to the NBA after his overseas commitment was complete (Twitter link). Bogut earned MVP honors with the Sydney Kings, then joined the Warriors for 11 regular season games and the playoffs.

However, Stein notes that Noah has received interest from a few NBA teams after a surprisingly strong performance once he joined the Grizzlies in December (Twitter link).

Noah averaged 7.1 points and 5.7 rebounds in 41 games for Memphis, helping to erase memories of two nightmarish seasons with the Knicks. At age 34, he is being very “selective” about where he winds up next, Stein adds.

Grizzlies Notes: Bickerstaff, Conley, FAs, Anderson

J.B. Bickerstaff‘s first full season with the Grizzlies may have been a little underwhelming in terms of the team’s win-loss record (33-49), but given all the injury problems that plagued the team throughout the year, it seems the team is happy with his performance. General manager Chris Wallace said as much today, telling reporters that Memphis plans to bring Bickerstaff back for next season, according to David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

“J.B. and his staff did a great job keeping everybody together and improving both individually and team-wise down the stretch,” Wallace said.

As for his own future, Wallace said he and owner Robert Pera have yet to sit down for their end-of-season meeting. However, he didn’t sound particularly concerned about his job security, per Cobb.

“That’s between me and Robert,” Wallace said. “I don’t want to go into that publicly. I’m very comfortable here and comfortable working with him and really not worried about my situation at all.”

[UPDATE: The Grizzlies have fired Bickerstaff and re-assigned Wallace]

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • According to Cobb, Wallace said today that he expects the Grizzlies to continue listening to trade offers for point guard Mike Conley this offseason, though that doesn’t mean Conley will be moved. “Teams are going to continue to knock on our door leading up to the draft and into the summer,” Wallace said. “We value Mike. We’d love to keep moving forward with him. We’ll see where it goes.”
  • The Grizzlies would like to retain the players they acquired in exchange for Marc Gasol at the trade deadline, including Jonas Valanciunas and Delon Wright, Wallace said today (via Cobb). Valanciunas has a player option for 2019/20; Wright will be eligible for restricted free agency. According to Wallace, Valanciunas is “a true Memphis Grizzly” who has loved playing in Memphis, while Wright “fit in very well both on and off the floor.”
  • Forward Kyle Anderson will undergo thoracic outlet decompression surgery next week on his right shoulder, the Grizzlies announced in a press release. He’s expected to make a full recovery and should be ready to go for the 2019/20 season, according to the team.
  • Joakim Noah will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and there’s no guarantee he’ll stick with the Grizzlies, but he appreciates that the club was willing to take a chance on him following his disastrous stint in New York. “Memphis was the only team that showed me any consideration,” Noah told ESPN’s Zach Lowe. Asked if he expects to remain on an NBA roster next season, Noah replied, “F— yeah.”

Grizzlies Notes: Bradley, Noah, Caboclo, Carter

The fate of the Grizzlies‘ first-round pick might influence whether the team brings back Avery Bradley next season, according to Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian. Acquired from the Clippers at the trade deadline, Bradley has a $12.96MM contract for 2019/20 that doesn’t become guaranteed until July 3.

Unless the team undergoes major changes during the summer, Memphis will be keeping a close eye on its luxury tax situation. The Grizzlies made Mike Conley available prior to the deadline, but if he returns and Jonas Valanciunas and C.J. Miles both opt in, their contracts – along with Chandler Parsons – will put the team over the salary cap. Memphis would be pushed into tax territory if it keeps Bradley while bringing back restricted free agent Delon Wright, signing a high lottery pick and using its mid-level exception.

The Grizzlies’ pick will convey to Boston if it falls out of the top eight. Memphis is in sixth place in our latest Reverse Standings, three games above the Mavericks and Pelicans, who are tied for eighth. Bradley has been good since joining the Grizzlies, averaging 15.3 PPG in six games, but Herrington says the decision will come down to whether management views him as a bargain at next year’s salary.

There’s more out of Memphis, all courtesy of Herrington:

  • The Grizzlies would welcome back Joakim Noah, but at age 34, he may be more interested in joining a contender. After a disastrous experience in New York, the veteran center has resurrected his career in Memphis. However, the Grizzlies don’t have his Bird rights, so they would have to either open cap room or use an exception to pay him more than the veteran’s minimum.
  • Bruno Caboclo‘s defensive versatility may be enough for the Grizzlies to bring him back for another year. Memphis doesn’t have another bench player with size who can guard the perimeter, making Caboclo valuable even with his limited offensive game. After a pair of 10-day contracts, the Grizzlies signed the former first-round pick for the rest of the season, along with some guaranteed money for 2019/20.
  • The trade deadline worked out poorly for rookie guard Jevon Carter, who has only played three minutes over the last three games. The Grizzlies kept Conley and traded for both Bradley and Wright, who are all ahead of him in the rotation. Carter may not get a chance to display his skills in Memphis as long as all three stay with the team.

Southwest Notes: Capela, Noah, Wright, Doncic

The Rockets are optimistic that injured center Clint Capela will be ready to return after the All-Star break, relays Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Capela, who missed his 15th straight game tonight, hasn’t played since Jan. 13 when he injured ligaments in his right thumb.

He has been working out for several weeks and will start practicing with the team after the break concludes. Capela is the Rockets’ top rebounder at 12.6 per game and ranks third in the league in field goal percentage at 63.1%.

“He’s doing everything without contact,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I guess those two practices will determine whether he will play the first game (after the break) or not.”

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Joakim Noah calls the opportunity to resume his career with the Grizzlies “a blessing” after a disastrous experience with the Knicks, tweets K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. Noah wasn’t always sure that he wanted to keep playing after becoming an outcast in New York, but he has been rejuvenated by a second chance in Memphis. “I didn’t want to leave the game like that,” he said. “I’ve worked too hard my whole life. I’ve always been somebody who loves basketball, loves to compete. I wanted to find that again.” (Twitter link)
  • The Grizzlies traded offense for defense at the backup point guard position in a pair of deals last week, writes David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Memphis sent Shelvin Mack to the Hawks and replaced him by picking up Delon Wright in a trade with the Raptors. Wright can’t match Mack’s outside shooting prowess, but he made the Pac 12 All-Defensive Team twice in college and has the size to guard several positions. The Grizzlies can make Wright a restricted free agent this summer by extending a a $3.64MM qualifying offer.
  • An online gambling site has stopped taking wagers on the Rookie of the Year race, figuring Mavericks guard Luka Doncic already has the award wrapped up, relays Joey Hayden of The Dallas Morning News. David Strauss of MyBookie said the site is ready to pay out more than $150K to bettors who put money on Doncic.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics Trades, Mudiay, Fultz, Noah

The Celtics are unlikely to make a big move prior to this year’s trade deadline, NBC Sports’ Tom Haberstroh reports in a story relayed by NBC Sports Boston’s Darren Hartwell. With Indiana losing Victor Oladipo for the season, the Celtics have less incentive to make a drastic change. They’re hoping Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown bounce back during the second half of the season, then will look to trade for Anthony Davis during the offseason.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks point guard Emmanuel Mudiay will be sidelined at least two weeks with a left shoulder strain, the team’s PR department tweets. Mudiay suffered the injury against Houston on Wednesday and the original prognosis was confirmed by an MRI. Mudiay is averaging 14.7 PPG and 3.9 APG.
  • Markelle Fultz traveled with the Sixers on their current road trip but the second-year guard has not been cleared for basketball activity, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets. It’s not anticipated that Fultz will be cleared during the trip and thus he’s limited to physical therapy as he works his way back from thoracic outlet syndrome.
  • Joakim Noah takes responsibility for flopping with the Knicks after signing a four-year, $72MM contract, as he told Frank Isola of The Athletic. Noah is playing for the Grizzlies after getting released by New York. “I think these are all life lessons. It was a tough time for me mentally,” he said. “Failing like that on a stage I really wanted to do well on. I take responsibility. It took me a while to digest that.”
  • Blake Murphy of The Athletic runs down a wide variety of trade scenarios for the Raptors, though they’re also unlikely to make a big move.

Southwest Notes: Mirotic, Gasol, Spurs, Jackson Jr.

Pelicans forward Nikola Mirotic has regained his rhythm with the team, returning to the lineup this past week after missing 12 games with an ankle injury. He scored 26 combined points in his first two games back, draining a handful of threes as an off-ball threat.

“He was trying to get himself going early and I just kind of wanted to tell him to let it come to him,” Anthony Davis said of Mirotic following Wednesday’s win over Cleveland, according to Scott Kushner of The Advocate. “I think it was big for him to see his shot go in and from there he started making a bunch of shots.”

Mirotic wound up scoring 17 points against the Cavs, then scored nine points with a positive net rating against the Timberwolves on Saturday. He was acquired by the Pelicans in a trade last year, with the team bringing him on as a catch-and-shoot threat.

“AD said, ‘Take the first one. Don’t hesitate,’ ” Mirotic said. “So I said, ‘He’s right. If you have an open shot, take the open shot.’ Just play simple. That’s what I did. A couple of possessions after that, they went to double against AD and he passed it to me wide open, and I shot that corner in the second quarter. That was all. Playing simple.” 

The Pelicans are striving to make the postseason for the third time since drafting Davis. The team is reportedly active on the trade market, with the NBA’s annual deadline falling on February 7 this season.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies center Marc Gasol has denied that there’s any rift between him and teammate Joakim Noah, David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. A video of Gasol brushing by Noah after the team’s win over the Spurs circulated on social media, with Gasol calling the insinuation “f——” unbelievable.” Noah also played with Marc’s brother, Pau Gasol, for two seasons in Chicago.
  • Patty Mills expects an emotional night when longtime Spurs guard Tony Parker returns to San Antonio on Monday, tweets Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News. Parker signed a free-agent contract with the Hornets last summer, leaving the Spurs after 17 seasons. “I think he is going to get a very, very warm welcome,” Mills said. “The city loves him. They always have, and vice versa. Looking forward to a pretty cool reception from the fans.”
  • Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff explains his development plan for Jaren Jackson Jr., as relayed by Cobb in a story for the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “There’s moments where it may look like we’re being tough on him,” Bickerstaff said. “But we have expectations of him being a franchise player, and your franchise player has to hold himself to those standards. And you only get one chance to coach him as a rookie.” Jackson Jr., the No. 4 pick in 2018, has averaged 13.4 points in 25.5 minutes per game this season, starting in 40 of 42 contests.

Mills: I Don’t Know I Would Have Signed Joakim Noah

With the Joakim Noah era in New York over, front office brass is not only thrilled the oft-injured center is gone but giving second thoughts to signing him, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Knicks president Steve Mills discussed the divorce from Noah and his take on the original four-year, $72MM given to the former All-Star in the summer of 2016.

“Obviously I’m disappointed it worked out the way it worked out,” Mills said. “I don’t know that, had it been just my decision, I don’t know that I would have signed him.”

Mills was the Knicks’ general manager and worked underneath then-president Phil Jackson when Noah was brought onboard. The 33-year-old battled injuries in his first season with New York, appearing in 46 games. Noah played just seven more games last season before being suspended following an altercation with former New York coach Jeff Hornacek.

In a recent interview, Noah admitted that he partied too much while a member of the Knicks and that he was “too lit” for New York. The Knicks used the stretch provision on the remainder of his contract and waived the veteran before the start of the season.

Noah joined the Grizzlies — who he called the perfect fit at this stage in his career — and through eight games, is averaging 4.9 PPG and 3.4 RPG for Memphis off the bench.

“There was a reason why we thought that this was the best thing for the culture and the environment of our team,” Mills said. “When the speculation was why don’t we handle Joakim one way and we decided to handle it a different way, there was a reason why we handled it the way we decided to handle it.”

Joakim Noah: “Too Lit To Play In New York”

Excessive partying may have been responsible for Joakim Noah‘s downfall in New York, the former Knicks center says in an interview with Chris Vernon of Grind City Media (hat tip to Chris Iseman of USA Today).

Noah has looked much better since signing with the Grizzlies last week, averaging 6.2 points and 3.8 rebounds through five games. While those are modest numbers, they are far better than what he posted during two frustrating years with the Knicks.

“I remember after the first game (in New York) I probably had like 60 people in my house,” Noah said. “I’m too lit to play in New York City. Memphis is perfect for me.”

Noah, 33, admits he had the same party habits earlier in his career, but added, “We were lit in Chicago, but I was young. You recover faster, you know?”

Noah was a two-time All-Star and former Defensive Player of the Year with the Bulls before receiving a four-year, $72MM offer to join the Knicks in 2016. He battled injuries in his first season with the team, appearing in 46 games, then played just seven more last year before being suspended following an altercation with former New York coach Jeff Hornacek in practice.

The Knicks waived Noah before the start of this season, using the stretch provision on the remainder of his contract.

“It happened so fast,” Noah recalled. “One year I’m playing 35 minutes a game. And then injuries started piling up. I got this crazy deal with the Knicks, and then the next thing you know I’m not playing anymore. Get kicked off the team. It was a crazy time. I wasn’t sure I was gonna get an opportunity to play again.”

Noah believes he was able to save his career by leaving New York after being released and heading to California to dedicate himself to getting back into game shape. If he can rediscover the all-around skills he displayed in Chicago, Noah could be a valuable backup for the Grizzlies as they fight for a playoff spot.

“I got the call from Memphis. … I decided that this was a good fit,” Noah said. “I’m just really, really happy to be here.”