John Wall

Southeast Notes: Waiters, Fournier, Adebayo, Howard

In order to improve upon their 2017/18 campaign without having made any significant changes this offseason, the Heat had better hope that Dion Waiters, who missed 52 games last season, becomes this season’s Victor Oladipo, opines Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.

There are some unquestionable similarities between Oladipo and Waiters. As Winderman notes, both were traded from Oklahoma City, both were top five selections in their respective drafts, and both are now playing for their third NBA franchise.

“You can never predict anything in this league,” Riley said. “You look at what happened last year to Indiana and how good they became getting [Domantas] Sabonis and Oladipo, how they changed, how their mentality changed. They made some good additions. Very few people talk about them.”

Per Winderman, it’s that type of under-the-radar approach from Riley that has defined the Heat’s offseason thus far. Riley seemingly believes that his team is good enough to complete already.

“One thing we have going for us is we have familiarity, we have continuity,” Riley said. “There is a system that’s been intact here. (And) not having Dion Waiters play hardly at all, you’ve got to give it another shot. You can’t just keep ripping things up every year and changing your roster.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

Southeast Notes: Riley, Howard, Kaminsky, Lamb

Heat president Pat Riley understands some fans are disappointed that he didn’t add any big names this offseason, but he’s asking them to be patient as he works to rebuild the team, relays Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Miami won’t have the cap space to pursue big-name free agents until the summer of 2020. Riley is trying to lay the groundwork for that opportunity while keeping a competitive group on the court.

“If any fan out there is unhappy or angry we didn’t go out and get LeBron James or Kevin Durant or [DeMarcus] Cousins or whatever else they felt that they would want us to get probably didn’t realize we couldn’t get them anyhow, that we couldn’t trade for them,” Riley said. “There are things I read [where] people are so uninformed about the rules and what we can and cannot do until one of you [reporters] – and most of the time you do that – [say] we couldn’t make that move.”

Riley also confirmed that he has refused to surrender first-round picks in deals to get rid of unwanted contracts.

There’s more tonight from the Southeast Division:

  • John Wall showed off his recruiting skills by convincing Dwight Howard to come to the Wizards, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Howard wasn’t considering the Wizards as he was negotiating a buyout from the Nets, but an appeal from Wall changed that. “No lie, when I saw the message on Instagram, I really got so happy,” Howard said at his introductory press conference this week. “I was like ‘John just DM’d me, oh man this is crazy!’ After that, I really just started to put on my thinking cap. I just thought about all the possibilities. I was like ‘Man, this could be the best spot for me.'”
  • Former Hornets lottery pick Frank Kaminsky is entering a vital season for his financial future, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer in a mailbag column. Kaminsky will be a restricted free agent next summer if he can’t work out an extension with Charlotte before the start of the upcoming season. The Hornets gave deals to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller before they could test the free agent waters, but Bonnell isn’t convinced that Kaminsky has the same value.
  • If the Hornets are looking to unload players at next year’s trade deadline, Jeremy Lamb will be a prime candidate to go, Bonnell writes in the same piece. Lamb has an expiring contract and Charlotte has a lot of wing players on its roster.

Wizards Notes: Howard, Chiozza, Green, Wall

Dwight Howard plans on retiring with the Wizards and believes he’s got a long way to go before the end of his career, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays. Howard was signed to a two-year deal worth approximately $11MM after being bought out by the Nets, who traded with the Hornets for his contract in a salary dump. Howard said during a press conference he anticipates playing “the rest of my career” with Washington. Howard, 32, also doesn’t see the finish line in sight. “For me, I plan on playing this game for another good eight years,” he said.

In other news regarding the Wizards:

  • Guard Chris Chiozza, who played on the Wizards’ summer-league team, was one of the top undrafted rookies in Las Vegas, according to Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype.  He averaged 7.4 APG and his assist percentage (40.1) was the second-best among all qualified rookies. The 6-foot Chiozza, who played four collegiate seasons at Florida, remains unsigned.
  • Free agent signee Jeff Green believes the Wizards can make a run similar to the Cavaliers’ trip to the Finals last season, Hughes reports in another story. Green, a rotation player in Cleveland last season, signed a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal with Washington. “Getting to the Finals and being part of that was beyond amazing,” he said. “With the experience and seeing what it took, I can bring that here and get everybody on the same page of knowing what it takes and the sacrifices that you have to do to get to that point.”
  • Point guard John Wall said the Wizards have had a “pretty interesting” summer and feels Howard still has something left in the tank, he told Chris Miller of NBC Sports Washington in a podcast. “Even though [Howard] is older, he’s still an athletic big averaging 16  and 12,” Wall said. “Not only do you get more layups, probably, you get more wide-open threes.”

Clippers, Wizards Swap Austin Rivers, Marcin Gortat

10:29pm: Both teams have now officially announced the trade.

6:29pm: The Clippers are trading guard Austin Rivers to the Wizards in exchange for center Marcin Gortat, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, making it perhaps even more likely that center DeAndre Jordan is on his way out of L.A.

It was reported earlier today that Jordan, who has yet to decide on his 2018/19  player option, is considering exercising his option in order to facilitate a trade to another team, a la former teammate Chris Paul last season. While nothing has been reported officially, it seems odd that the Clippers would trade for Gortat if they have any expectation of keeping Jordan in Los Angeles.

After drafting Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson in the lottery last week, Rivers appears to be a casualty of the Clippers’ guard heavy roster moving forward, especially given his price tag of $12.65MM, which is approximately twice the amount that the Clippers will pay their two rookies combined.

Meanwhile, it had already been reported that the Wizards were hoping to move on from Gortat. The Wizards needed a proven reserve guard to give John Wall and Bradley Beal some backup and, as detailed by Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN, to move on from Gortat from a locker room standpoint. As was highly publicized, Gortat and Wall had an inconsistent relationship, culminating in a public social media spat last season.

The Wizards now figure to enter the free agent period this weekend in search of a center. Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith are currently under contract for next season.

From a salary cap perspective, the salaries of Rivers and Gortat match nicely, with Gortat scheduled to make $13,565,218 next season, only $915,218 more than Rivers. Assuming the swap is made official before the new league year begins on Sunday, the Wizards will create a trade exception worth $957,609, the difference between the two players’ 2017/18 salaries.

The Wizards will also save about $1.4MM in luxury tax penalties by taking on Rivers’ salary in exchange for Gortat’s, as noted by ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

Both Rivers and Gortat are in the final year of contracts, and will become unrestricted free agents next summer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southeast Notes: Borrego, Wall, McGruder, Monk

As we wrote yesterday, the Hornets have no immediate plans to blow up their roster. Yet, a culture change is definitely in the works with new head coach James Borrego, who brings with him the winning culture of Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs, a franchise with five championships and a sixth NBA Finals appearance since the 1998-99 season.

While Borrego is not Popovich, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer opines that there are four great habits he learned from Popovich that he can bring to the Hornets – great ball movement, getting the best out of your players, the ability to positively impact a locker room, and perhaps most importantly, develop talent.

As Bonnell notes, the more important quality the Hornets were looking for in its next head coach was player development. And while the Spurs front office gets a lot of credit for its ability in the draft, having a coaching staff adept at developing players is just as important.

Some examples of players who the Spurs drafted low and turned into serviceable NBA players include Tony Parker (28th overall), Manu Ginobili (57th), George Hill (26th), Tiago Splitter (28th), and Dejounte Murray (29th). Moreover, the Spurs developed Danny Green (46th) after acquiring him as a free agent. To that end, the Hornets hope that the hiring of Borrego will help develop its two young players drafted last summer – Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Candace Buckner of The Washington Post opines that although the leadership of John Wall was at times questionable this season for the Wizards, the situation would’ve been helped if Wall was able to play more, using his on-court leadership skills as opposed to trying to lead off the court.
  • Heat swingman Rodney McGruder is looking forward to returning to the hardwood next season and working to win back a spot in the rotation after missing 64 games during the 2017/18 campaign, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.
  • In another piece for The Charlotte Observer, Bonnell looks at how Monk will fit into the Hornets’ plans. According to new head coach Borrego, “I see him as a playmaker, who can play with Kemba (Walker) and also be on the court without Kemba, creating offense for us. (Or) pairing him and Nic Batum in a lineup where Nic is facilitating. He’s a combo (guard). I don’t know until I get my hands on him where I’m going to put him or how we’re going to play him. But he’s just going to be a very good basketball player who fits today’s NBA.”

John Wall Displeased With Wizards’ Roster?

Fresh off a loss to the Raptors in Game 6 of the First Round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs, Wizards’ point guard John Wall spoke at length on Saturday about changes he’d like to see to the Wizards’ roster next season, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. When asked what type of players should be added to the roster, Wall pulled no punches, yet was quick to assure that his postseason evaluation was not directed at any particular teammates.

“There’s a lot that we can use. I really don’t have to say certain positions. There are certain things that people who have been around the team understand what we could use to help our team. It’s not throwing shade to anybody that is on our team because everyone that is on our roster gave everything they have to make it work and fit with the team, but at the same time, when it’s not working and then you try and you try and you try and it keeps failing over and over, then you have to make certain adjustments and certain changes.”

Wall further elaborated, telling reporters he is in support of the Wizards bringing in an “athletic big”, which could of course be interpreted as a slight at Marcin Gortat, who clashed with Wall when Wall was injured earlier this season, and little-used big man Ian Mahinmi who, in hindsight, was grossly overpaid in the spend-happy summer of 2016. Combined, Gortat and Mahinmi will make just north of $29.5MM next season.

Unfortunately for the Wizards, adding worthwhile free agents this offseason, per Wall’s imploring, will be no easy task. Washington already has nearly $116MM tied up in guaranteed contracts for 2018/19, not counting player options for Jason Smith and Jodie Meeks. Should both players opt in, the Wizards payroll would reach $124.8MM – $1.8MM more than next year’s projected luxury tax threshold of $123MM and nearing the apron – before free agency even begins.

Given that the $124.8MM figure only includes 10 players, the Wizards best tool will likely be their taxpayer mid-level exception, which is projected to be about $3.3MM less than the non-taxpayer mid-level exception and limited to three seasons rather than four. Players looking to cash in on a MLE deal this offseason stand to make about an additional $19.2MM over the life of a non-taxpayer MLE contract, thereby lessening the Wizards’ chances of luring meaning free agents to the nation’s capital this summer. For his part, Wall thinks players should nevertheless entertain the idea of coming to Washington.

“I think those guys that are watching and seeing understand what they can add and what we might need to make our team better to finally get over the second round or get through the first round like we didn’t this year.”

John Wall Talks Teammates, Front Office, Offseason

Another early postseason exit for the Wizards means another offseason full of questions for the organization and All-Star John Wall. After losing to the Raptors in six games, Wall and other members of the Wizards met with the media for an end-of-season press conference. Wall vocalized his frustrations with the team and what he thinks can be done to improve the situation.

As Candance Bucker of The Washington Post writes, Wall called out his teammates and challenged the front office to put together a team that is on the same page. The 27-year-old appeared in just 41 games this season after knee surgery sidelined him for several months. In that time, he and teammate Marcin Gortat exchanged words in the press, which both men downplayed. Washington backed its way into the postseason, ending up with the eighth seed.

The entire story is worth reading, but here are some highlights from Wall’s media session:

On his teammates being on the same page:

“I don’t put the pressure on everybody else. I put the pressure on myself because I am that franchise guy. I am the guy that has to be the leader of the team, that has to get everybody better, make everybody better on my team. At the same time, if I’m doing my part, the other 14 guys on my team have to do their part at getting better every year. Just being true to the team. Our problem at a lot times is guys don’t understand their role and respect their role.”

What the Wizards need to improve their roster:

“It’s pretty obvious. I don’t need to point it out. I think the way the league is going, you need athletic bigs, you need scoring off the bench, you need all of those types of things. We don’t really have an athletic big.”

On the front office and what it needs to do this summer:

“I don’t know. It’s up to them to make the decision. Like I said, whoever comes back, whoever stays, what it is, we deal with it because those are our teammates. Those guys do the best they can. They have the ability to help us out as much as possible. We know what it is, what the situations are. That’s up to the front office to decide. If they want to make any changes or keep guys. At the same time, you kind of know what guys want to be here from what people have said in the past or what they haven’t said.”

On his teammates understanding their role:

“Some people don’t understand their roles, so if you don’t understand your role and you think you deserve a bigger role, that’s not about to happen.”

Wizards Notes: Durant, Wall, Gortat, Morris

The Wizards are still suffering the consequences of their decision to chase Kevin Durant when he was a free agent in 2016, writes Ashish Mathur of AmicoHoops. Washington elected to pass on a talented 2015 free agency market that included Al Horford, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Paul Millsap and Khris Middleton because the team wanted to preserve cap room for a run at Durant.

The Wizards went a couple of steps further, hiring Durant’s former Oklahoma City coach, Scott Brooks, and bringing on David Adkins, part of the coaching staff on Durant’s high school team, as a player development assistant. Despite those moves, Durant, who grew up near Washington, never gave serious consideration to returning home and didn’t even meet with the Wizards.

There’s more Wizards news from today’s exit interviews:

  • John Wall indicated that the front office needs to shake up the roster this summer, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Wall, who clashed with center Marcin Gortat over social media comments earlier this season, said the team needs to find “athletic bigs” for next year. “We added some pieces to help us out at times … but at the same time front office people need to figure out what really fits with the team,” Wall added (Twitter link).
  • Gortat, who is entering the final year of his contract, remains confident that he has “a lot in the tank.” (Twitter link). He said he hopes to get back to a more physical style next season and criticized small-ball lineups, which he called the “worst thing” in the NBA.
  • Markieff Morris told reporters he underwent minor groin surgery last summer in addition to the sports hernia operation that was known about (Twitter link). Morris, who missed the start of the season because of the procedures, twice said the Wizards’ problems with consistency are linked to “immaturity.”
  • Majority owner Ted Leonsis penned a thank you letter to Wizards fans on social media and praised the team for remaining competitive with Wall sidelined for half the season.

Poll: Breaking Up The Wizards’ Backcourt

After winning their division and taking the Celtics to the brink in a second-round series last year, the Wizards entered this season among the favorites in the Eastern Conference. Instead, they settled for an eighth seed and a first-round elimination.

It appeared Washington might miss the playoffs altogether when John Wall underwent knee surgery at the end of January. However, the Wizards managed a 15-12 record in his absence, sparking whispers that the team was better without him because of better ball movement.

Backcourt mate Bradley Beal, who has been beset by injury problems in the past, played all 82 games for the first time. He emerged as a team leader in Wall’s absence, averaging 22.6 points per game and posting career-best marks in rebounds (4.4 per game) and assists (4.5).

Washington has its All-Star backcourt locked up for the foreseeable future, but at a very expensive price. Wall will make nearly $19.2MM next season, then will start enjoying the benefits of a supermax extension that pays him $170MM over four years. Beal is owed nearly $81.3MM over the next three seasons.

With Otto Porter also getting a rich new extension last summer, the Wizards have extreme cap concerns over the next three years. They are already nearly $15MM over next season’s cap without counting possible player options for Jason Smith ($5.45MM) and Jodie Meeks ($3.45MM).

Operating so close to the luxury tax, the Wizards are limited in their ability to shake up the roster without a major trade. We’re asking our readers if they think it’s time to consider moving Wall or Beal as a potential cap solution. Please vote in our poll and give us your opinion on how Washington should handle the offseason.

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

John Wall Expected To Return Tonight

The Wizard are expected to have point guard John Wall return tonight against the Hornets after he missed the last two months due to arthroscopic left knee surgery, tweets Chris Miller of NBC Sports Washington.

Wall had been practicing with the Wizards and his return was considered imminent. Washington has won 15 of 27 games in Wall’s absence but head coach Scott Brooks recently said that having the five-time All-Star back would be a major boost.

“He gives us that edge,” Brooks explained. “When you have him on the floor, you get a lot of easy shots. John creates a lot of attention when he drives to the basket… I think [his teammates] have always appreciated it, but when you don’t have him around you definitely miss it.”

In 37 games before going under the knife, Wall averaged 19.4 PPG and 9.3 APG for the Wizards. With seven games remaining this season, Wall will likely on see action in a handful of them before the postseason. However, Wall will also try to steer the team in the right direction as the Wizards have dropped four of their past five games.