Josh Hart

Southwest Notes: Anderson, Hart, Williamson, Morant, Garuba

Kyle Anderson enjoyed a career year for the Grizzlies as a fixture in the lineup in 2020/21. He’s had a difficult time adjusting to a bench role this season, Mark Giannotto of the Memphis Commercial Appeal notes. Anderson, who will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, posted averages of 12.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG and 3.4 APG in 69 starts last season. In 14 games off the bench this season, he’s playing approximately five fewer minutes per game while averaging 8.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 2.4 APG.

“I’m just still trying to figure it out. It’s a different role,” Anderson said. “People may look at last year and say why aren’t you doing what you did last year? It’s just that’s over. This is a different role. I’m a professional. I’ve got to figure it out.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans are floundering with a 2-14 record and guard Josh Hart doesn’t want to hear excuses for their poor start, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune tweets. “We have to grow up. (Bleep) being young, inexperienced,” he said. “I don’t really care for that right now. We have have to focus on growing up. We have to focus on having better attention to detail.”
  • When Zion Williamson and Ja Morant were drafted 1-2 in 2019, it should have sparked a spirited division rivalry between the Pelicans and Grizzlies, It hasn’t worked out that way, at least not yet, because of Williamson’s injury issues, Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian writes. The teams have only met six times since that draft due to the pandemic and only three have included both Williamson and Morant, Herrington notes. Just one of those matchups had a full complement of fans in the stands due to COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Rockets first-round pick Usman Garuba has been assigned the G League Rio Grande Valley Vipers and that’s needed in order to get him some experience, Rahat Huq of the Houston Chronicle writes. Garuba hasn’t cracked the Rockets’ regular rotation, appearing in just seven games and averaging 6.4 MPG. Garuba is noted for defensive prowess but needs to develop his offensive game, Huq adds.

Southwest Notes: Kevin Porter Jr., Spurs, Hart, Ingram

Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. has developed a unique sensibility in his new role this season as Houston’s starting point guard, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Porter calls his own style “Scoot ball.”

“Basketball today is hardly traditional,” said Porter of his role with the Rockets. “I tried to become a traditional (point guard), but that’s not me at all. I’m ‘Scoot.’ I get a bucket or set my guy up.”

The 6’4″ guard, who was a small forward during his rookie season with the Cavaliers and a shooting guard last year with the Rockets, is averaging 13.3 PPG, 5.2 APG, 4.2 RPG and 1.2 SPG for a tanking Houston club in the second season of a rebuild.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Spurs forward Doug McDermott was well aware of teen rookie shooting guard Joshua Primo years before they were teammates, as Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News details. “I’ve been impressed with him for a long time,” McDermott said. “My dad [Creighton head coach Greg McDermott] recruited him really hard at Creighton. I think it came down to Creighton and Alabama. So I’ve been watching Josh for a long time. I’ve always known he was going to be a hell of a player.” The 18-year-old Primo is currently logging significant minutes with San Antonio’s G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs. “[My college decision] came down to [Creighton] and Alabama,” Primo confirmed. “I went to Alabama, but we still kept in touch.”
  • Pelicans guard Josh Hart appreciates new head coach Willie Green‘s confidence in his shot creation, per Christian Clark of NOLA.com. “Willie has all the trust in me to go out there and play my game and play with confidence,” Hart said. “I think that’s the biggest thing that we talked about. It wasn’t just standing in the corner and hoping and praying for the ball.”
  • Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram returned to action following a seven-game absence due to a hip contusion, and his activity helped fuel just the second New Orleans victory of the year, a 112-101 defeat of the Grizzlies. William Guillory of The Athletic examines how Ingram’s 19 points helped the Pelicans end their nine-game losing streak. Ingram addressed the calming influence of new head coach Willie Green through a tumultuous start to the club’s 2021/22 season. “(He’s) just keeping guys positive — making sure their heads (are) up, making sure they’re staying confident in everything that they’re doing,” Ingram said. “Our guys have put in the work. He sees that, and he just wants everybody to be successful on the basketball floor.”

Southwest Notes: Primo, Hart, Pelicans, Mavs, Parsons

As expected, the Spurs have assigned rookie Joshua Primo to their G League affiliate in Austin. According to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link), Primo isn’t expected to travel with the NBA club to Dallas, Milwaukee, and Indiana for its next three games and will instead remain in the G League during that time.

McDonald says it’s possible Primo will return to San Antonio after the Spurs’ road trip comes to an end next week, but it’s probably safe to assume the 18-year-old will spend plenty of time in Austin during his rookie year. Primo is the youngest player in the NBA, and the Spurs typically exercise plenty of patience with their top prospects.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Pelicans wing Josh Hart, who has missed the team’s last three games due to right quadriceps tendinosis, said on Wednesday that he felt soreness during the preseason, tweets Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Hart is getting closer to returning to action, but wants to be sure he’s back to 100% and expressed doubts about returning tonight.
  • While the eventual return of Zion Williamson should help unlock the Pelicans‘ full offensive potential, the team probably needs to play slower and more deliberately as long as the former No. 1 pick remains sidelined, according to Scott Kushner of NOLA.com, who says New Orleans can’t afford to turn the ball over so much.
  • In a discussion on Brian Windhorst’s Hoop Collective podcast about the Mavericks‘ front office over the years, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon suggested that forward Chandler Parsons was the “primary voice in (team owner Mark) Cuban‘s ear” for a couple years back in 2014-15. “Chandler Parsons had significantly more control over personnel than Donnie Nelson did for two years,” MacMahon said, per Dan Feldman of NBC Sports. “That is simply a fact.”

Southwest Notes: Morant, Wall, Mavericks, Pelicans

Grizzlies star Ja Morant expressed confidence that he’s a top-five point guard in the league, he told Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Morant listed Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook as the best point guards beside himself.

The 22-year-old also conveyed a belief that his Grizzlies can take another step forward after earning a playoff spot in last season’s play-in tournament.

“I feel like we can compete with the top teams in this league,” he explained. “We all have that mindset, and this chip on our shoulder we go out and play with each and every night.

“Now, it’s continuing to buy in and keep gelling as a team and getting better with chemistry. Having more guys step up and talk who’ve been in the game for a while to help the young guys come along. Our goal this year is to continue to be better in all areas and better than we were last year.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division tonight:

  • Kelly Iko and Danny Leroux of The Athletic discuss a number of topics related to the Rockets, including the ongoing John Wall situation. Wall and Houston mutually agreed to find the 31-year-old a trade earlier this month, though it’ll be a difficult task due to his $44.3MM salary and $47.4MM player option for 2022/23.
  • Dwain Price of Mavs.com previews the Mavericks‘ training camp, which is set to start on Tuesday. Led by Luka Doncic, Dallas is viewed by league observers as quietly one of the most dangerous teams entering the season. “I think we’re going to be a team that’s going to play hard, that’s going to be unselfish, and I think everyone will be accountable and I think it’ll be fun,” head coach Jason Kidd said. “That’s a Jason Kidd-coached team is a team that’s going to be accountable, will have fun out there and will play hard and be unselfish.”
  • In his latest mailbag for The Athletic, William Guillory examined several Pelicans-related subjects, including potential rotations, the idea of trading Josh Hart, and more. New Orleans is coming off a season where it went just 31-41.

Pelicans Notes: Hart, Offseason Moves, Murphy, Summer League

Josh Hart‘s new three-year deal with the Pelicans includes some unique terms, according to ESPN’s Will Guillory and Bobby Marks (Twitter links). In an Instagram video, Marks provides a more in-depth breakdown of the agreement.

After earning a guaranteed $12MM salary in year one, Hart will have a $12.96MM non-guaranteed salary in year two, says Guillory. If the Pelicans want to avoid paying Hart that salary, they’ll have to waive him by June 25, meaning he’d get a head-start on finding a new team in free agency.

If Hart plays out the first two years of his deal, his $12.96MM salary for 2023/24 would be non-guaranteed as well, but he also has a player option for that third year. It would essentially be a mutual option for Hart and the Pelicans. He’d have until June 24 to decide whether to exercise or decline his player option, then – if he opts in – New Orleans would have until June 25 to decide whether to guarantee his salary.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • Scouts and executives polled by Tim Bontemps of ESPN were critical of the Pelicans’ offseason, questioning the team’s decision to replace Lonzo Ball with Devonte’ Graham. “They’re a sinking ship and reaching for a life preserver that just isn’t going to help,” one Western Conference executive said. “I don’t understand how (Jonas Valanciunas) is going to fit. I don’t understand how Devonte’ is worth what they paid. It’s just weird.”
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic loved what he saw from the Pelicans and Trey Murphy at Las Vegas Summer League, noting that he talked to two separate scouts who thought Murphy was the best rookie in Vegas. Vecenie referred to New Orleans’ Summer League team as “juggernaut” on the defensive end, singling out Murphy, Naji Marshall, Herb Jones, and Kira Lewis for their performances.
  • Murphy was one of seven players named to the All-Summer League First Team, per the NBA, as he joined co-MVPs Davion Mitchell and Cameron Thomas, among others.

Pelicans, Josh Hart Finalize Three-Year Contract

AUGUST 19: Hart’s new contract with the Pelicans is now official, per NBA.com’s transactions log.


AUGUST 16: The Pelicans are nearing an agreement to re-sign restricted free agent wing Josh Hart, Hart’s agents at CAA inform Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Woj reports that the contract will be a three-year, $38MM deal. New Orleans had Hart’s Bird rights, so no cap room maneuvering or exceptions are necessary to make the deal work.

The 6’5″ wing was part of the loaded package of young players and draft picks that arrived in New Orleans in the deal that sent All-Star big man Anthony Davis to the Lakers in the summer of 2019.

Hart, 26, was selected with the No. 30 pick in the 2017 NBA draft out of Villanova. He spent his first two seasons in Los Angeles, showing promising flashes as an intriguing two-way swingman.

Hart has seen his touches on offense improve as a reserve for the Pelicans from his tenure in Los Angeles. During his most recent season in 2020/21, Hart appeared in 47 of 72 possible contests. Across 28.7 MPG, he averaged 9.2 PPG on 43.9% shooting with 8.0 RPG, 2.3 APG and 0.8 SPG.

Hart will be the Pelicans’ 15th player on a guaranteed contract, which means that power forward Wenyen Gabriel, currently on a non-guaranteed $1,762,796 contract for the 2021/22 season, looks like the odd man out.

Woj adds that the deal looks set to be concluded soon. Will Guillory of The Athletic echoes this sentiment, tweeting that “a few details” in the contract still need to be finessed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pelicans Notes: Hernangomez, Jones, Murphy, Marshall, Green

Willy Hernangomez‘s new three-year contract with the Pelicans will be fully guaranteed for the first two years with a team option for year three, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link).

Lopez also provides the year-by-year breakdown of Hernangomez’s new deal. The Pelicans held the big man’s Non-Bird rights, giving them the ability to offer a starting salary worth 120% of his $1,939,350 minimum salary. That means Hernangomez will earn $2,327,220 in 2021/22, with 5% annual raises on that amount. The three-year contract will be worth about $7.33MM in total.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • Herb Jones‘ three-year contract with the Pelicans will be worth more than the minimum for the first two seasons, according to Lopez, who tweets that the No. 35 pick will earn $1.7MM in 2021/22 and $1.785MM in ’22/23. Both of those amounts will be fully guaranteed, followed by a minimum-salary ($1.836MM) team option in ’23/24. New Orleans is using a small part of its mid-level exception on Jones.
  • William Guillory of The Athletic checks in on the Pelicans who have turned heads at the Las Vegas Summer League, writing that Trey Murphy and Naji Marshall look capable of emerging as regular rotation players on the wing. New head coach Willie Green has also done a good job emphasizing ball movement and defensive activity, according to Guillory, who says those are two areas the team needs to improve in 2021/22.
  • After reaching a deal with restricted free agent Josh Hart, the Pelicans look like they’ll be just about finished with their offseason business, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. The team will have 15 players on guaranteed contracts and will have to rely heavily on internal growth from its young players in order to compete for a playoff spot in 2021/22.

Fischer’s Latest: Markkanen, DeRozan, Hield, Hart, Suns, More

The Pelicans, Mavericks, Celtics, and Timberwolves are among the teams that have shown interest in Bulls restricted free agent Lauri Markkanen, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who hears from sources that the price tag on the power forward would be about $15MM per year.

Landing Markkanen would be a challenge for any of those teams, however, as they’re all over the cap and would have to acquire the RFA forward via sign-and-trade. New Orleans has a traded player exception big enough to fit Markkanen, but the other teams would likely to have rely on salary-matching or offer him a lower salary (Dallas has a TPE worth $10.872MM, while Boston has one worth $9.72MM). Acquiring a player via sign-and-trade also results in a hard cap, which the Celtics are reportedly resisting.

On top of all that, Fischer confirms a previous report that the Bulls are seeking a first-round pick to accommodate a Markkanen sign-and-trade and don’t want to take on any salary, preferring any contracts to be rerouted to a third team. If they maintain that stance, the Bulls would make it very difficult for Markkanen to do anything but accept his $9MM qualifying offer.

“Chicago is playing this masterfully from no other perspective than a contract management standpoint,” a team capologist told Fischer. “It won’t do any favors relationship-wise, but they’re bleeding his market based on their tax situation, and nobody else can offer him any kind of money without them.”

As we wait to see what happens with Markkanen, it’s worth noting that the Hornets – previously rumored to be eyeing the forward – weren’t listed by Fischer as one of the teams in the hunt, and president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak told reporters today that the team is likely done with its “heavy lifting” this offseason (Twitter link via Rod Boone of SI.com).

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • The Sixers, Suns, Trail Blazers, Warriors, Celtics, and Knicks were among the teams that expressed interest in DeMar DeRozan before he reached a deal with the Bulls, per Fischer. However, New York agreed to sign Evan Fournier and most of the other teams would’ve had to figure out complicated sign-and-trade arrangements to accommodate DeRozan, who never really entertained the idea of signing for the mid-level exception, sources tell Fischer.
  • The Pelicans and Kings discussed the possibility of swapping Buddy Hield and Josh Hart (via sign-and-trade) as part of New Orleans’ trade with Memphis, Fischer writes. It’s unclear if anything along those lines is still being considered now that the Pelicans’ deal with the Grizzlies has been completed — base year compensation rules would complicate a one-for-one swap.
  • The Suns are weighing their options for their final open roster spot and have gauged the trade value of 2020 lottery pick Jalen Smith, sources tell Fischer.
  • The Raptors will meet with Goran Dragic‘s camp at Summer League in Las Vegas to further discuss the point guard’s situation, according to Fischer.
  • Zach LaVine has told Bulls staffers he’s committed to improving defensively next season, Fischer says.

Free Agency Rumors: D. Green, Hart, Cavs, Caruso, DeRozan

Free agent swingman Danny Green has been in contact with the Sixers multiple times over the past two days, according to Harrison Sanford, co-host of Green’s The Green Room podcast (Twitter link).

Sandford said that as of this afternoon, the two sides were nowhere close to a deal, and that the Bucks, Celtics, Bulls and Pelicans have all reached out as well. He adds in a separate tweet that Green has pre-existing relationships with both Ime Udoka of the Celtics and Mike Budenholzer of the Bucks from his time with the Spurs.

We have more free agency rumors:

  • The Cavaliers have had some discussions about the possibility of a sign-and-trade for Pelicans restricted free agent forward Josh Hart, sources tell Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). Without a sign-and-trade agreement, Cleveland would be limited to offering Hart the full mid-level exception, which New Orleans would presumably match.
  • Alex Caruso agreed to sign with the Bulls for four years, $37MM, and according to Zach Lowe of ESPN (hat tip to RealGM), the Lakers‘ offer to keep him was nowhere close to what was offered by Chicago. Ramona Shelburne added that – before Caruso agreed to his deal with the Bulls – the Timberwolves inquired about acquiring him in a sign-and-trade that would have included Marc Gasol, but didn’t have any luck.
  • According to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link), Bulls general manager Marc Eversley was crucial in securing a commitment from DeMar DeRozan, as the two had a long-standing relationship from when Eversley was the assistant general manager for the Raptors. The Bulls’ GM flew to Los Angeles to meet with DeRozan in person and had a “fruitful” two-hour meeting, per Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link).

Fischer’s Latest: Bulls, Ball, Pelicans, Hornets, Lakers, Schröder, Knicks, More

While it’s possible the Bulls will sign restricted free agent point guard Lonzo Ball to an offer sheet in the four-year, $80MM range, doing so would be a risk, since the Pelicans could match that offer and leave Chicago empty-handed. According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, a possible three-team deal involving the Bulls, Pelicans, and Hornets could eliminate that risk and ensure Ball lands in Chicago.

The structure – which John Hollinger of The Athletic alluded to earlier today and which has seemingly gained traction, per Fischer – would see Ball going to the Bulls, Devonte’ Graham to the Pelicans, and Tomas Satoransky, Josh Hart, and draft assets to the Hornets.

Fischer cautions that this is only one idea in play and that things should become clearer once free agency opens. A sign-and-trade that only involves the Bulls and Pelicans – with Satoransky going to New Orleans – is also a possibility, he adds.

Here’s more from Fischer’s latest rumor roundup:

  • The Lakers haven’t given up on the possibility of acquiring Buddy Hield from the Kings, but they don’t appear to be working closely with Dennis Schröder‘s camp on a possible sign-and-trade arrangement, per Fischer.
  • The Knicks and Wizards are still considered possibilities for Schröder, according to Fischer. The veteran point guard is also believed to be one of the Bulls‘ targets if they can’t land Ball, Fischer notes, writing that Chicago has done its homework on DeMar DeRozan and Richaun Holmes as well.
  • The Knicks are widely believed to be a frontrunner to sign Evan Fournier, perhaps for a three-year deal worth about $18MM annually, Fischer reports. Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel are also strong candidates to re-sign with New York for deals worth about $10MM per year, Fischer adds.
  • Will Barton appears likely to return to the Nuggets, according to Fischer, who says a two-year, $32MM+ contract is a real possibility.
  • Cameron Payne is considered a good bet to re-sign with the Suns for a deal in the $6MM-per-year range, says Fischer.