Kenneth Faried

Rockets Rumors: Butler, Rivers, Faried, FA Targets

While the odds appear to be stacked against them, the Rockets are “extremely confident” in their ability to acquire Jimmy Butler in a sign-and-trade deal, Kelly Iko of The Athletic writes in his preview of Houston’s free agency. According to Iko, team sources not only believe that the Rockets have a good shot at Butler, but also feel as if they’re in the lead for him.

In order for the Rockets to sign-and-trade for Butler, the Sixers would have to be on board, which is a big “if.” But Sam Amick of The Athletic hears from a source that Philadelphia would likely be open to cooperating if necessary, since the team has a “strong desire” to avoid losing Butler for nothing.

As ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst pointed out on a recent podcast, in order for the Sixers to believe that losing Butler for nothing is a real possibility, the swingman would likely need to have a potential alternate landing spot besides Houston. That alternate landing spot could be Los Angeles, as Amick also reports that the possibility of Butler and Kawhi Leonard both joining the Clippers is a scenario that’s viewed by sources as “increasingly possible.”

The Clippers would have to move Danilo Gallinari‘s salary to clear space for a second max player, but there are strong indications that Leonard would welcome Butler as a running mate, according to Amick. That echoes a Wednesday report from Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

As we wait to see what Butler’s future holds, here are some more Rockets-related notes and rumors:

  • The Rockets are targeting mid-level players whom teams might not be able to pay, according to Iko. Houston also hopes that the opportunity to compete for a title might convince certain free agents to take a little less than they might be able to earn elsewhere. The team refers to these as “contender contracts” and points to P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute as past examples, says Iko.
  • Team sources tell Iko that the Rockets have a list of about 30-to-50 potential targets. GM Daryl Morey has spoken to James Harden and Chris Paul via FaceTime about many of those players, Iko adds.
  • It’s 50/50 that Austin Rivers will return to Houston, according to Iko, who says team sources are resigned to the fact that it will be difficult to bring back Rivers and Kenneth Faried.
  • Trevor Ariza, who previously played for the Rockets, and Houston native DeAndre Jordan are potential targets for the club, Iko writes. According to Iko, there’s still “love” for Ariza within the Rockets’ organization, and team sources believe Jordan would be interested in playing for his hometown team — especially if Clint Capela gets dealt.

Rockets Reportedly Willing To Pay Luxury Tax

After making a series of transactions to get below the tax threshold this season, the Rockets are willing to accept the tax next year to upgrade their roster, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

GM Daryl Morey has already received permission from ownership to make moves that will push the team into tax territory, a source tells Feigen. Morey will try to tweak the roster to better compete with the Warriors, who have eliminated the Rockets from the playoffs in four of the past five seasons.

Houston has all five of its starters under contract for next year at a total cost of about $114MM, which is already over the salary cap. Morey will have to rebuild a reserve unit that features unrestricted free agents Austin Rivers, Kenneth Faried and Iman Shumpert and restricted free agent Danuel House.

Barring a bold trade to shake up the roster, Morey’s main weapon will be a mid-level exception that could be worth $9MM but is more likely to be limited to $5.7MM. That money might be needed to re-sign one or more of the team’s free agents, or Morey could also try to find a bargain on the free agent market.

No matter how he proceeds, Morey has a huge challenge ahead of him. The Rockets need to find a dependable small forward to allow Eric Gordon to spend more time in the backcourt, Feigen notes. They also need one more reliable shooter and a power forward who can hit 3-pointers and rebound so they don’t get beaten on the boards so badly when using small lineups.

Rockets Notes: Paul, Free Agents, Capela, Rosas

There are a lot of concerns in Houston after another season ended with a playoff loss to the Warriors, but the decline of Chris Paul may be the most serious issue, writes Sean Deveney of Sporting News. Paul missed at least 20 games for the third straight season, playing in 58, and his production declined in several important areas.

The nine-time All-Star posted career lows in scoring (15.6 PPG), shooting (41.9% from the field), free throw frequency (3.5 per game) and PER (19.7). He had difficulty finding his shot in the playoffs, making just one of his first 10 3-point attempts and shooting 27% from long distance.

Now 34, Paul just completed the first season of a four-year extension he signed last summer. He will make $38.5MM next season, $41.3MM in 2020/21 and has a $44.2MM option for 2021/22. Paul, James Harden and Clint Capela will consume 85% of the Rockets‘ cap space next season, Deveney notes, and are all under contract through the summer of 2022.

There’s more tonight from Houston:

  • Midseason acquisitions Austin Rivers, Kenneth Faried and Iman Shumpert may all be headed elsewhere this summer, Deveney adds. All three will be unrestricted free agents, and the Rockets won’t have much to offer beyond their mid-level exception. Deveney sees Gerald Green, who played for the veteran’s minimum this year, as likely to return.
  • Capela’s contract could be a major issue if he can’t overcome the confidence problem that seems to plague him against the Warriors, states Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Capela is owed up to approximately $72.2MM over the next four years, and although he played well during the season, he has become a matchup problem against Golden State. “He’ll learn from this, he’ll only get better,” coach Mike D’Antoni said after the Game 6 loss. “He’s only 25, he’ll get stronger. The expectations are high for him. I think he was a little below his normal stats. Could’ve been better, but I’ll go down with guys like that.”
  • The Rockets are making some front office changes after losing executive VP Gersson Rosas to the Timberwolves, relays Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Assistant GM Jimmy Paulis has taken Rosas’ duties of coordinating the team’s scouts, and GM Daryl Morey is looking to hire someone to fill the vacancy.

Rockets Notes: Faried, Frazier, Luxury Tax

On January 16, Kenneth Faried – who had appeared in just 12 games and averaged fewer than 10 MPG for the Nets at that point – noticed something about Brooklyn’s opponent that night. As Zach Lowe of ESPN.com writes, the injury-plagued Rockets were starting P.J. Tucker at center while Faried once again got a DNP-CD for the Nets.

“(I remember thinking) ‘They are not even playing a big!'” Faried said to Lowe. “‘I could come here and play right away.’ It sucked [Clint] Capela was hurt, but it opened a door for me.”

League sources tell Lowe that Faried’s realization helped accelerate his buyout discussions with the Nets. The veteran big man ultimately made his debut for the Rockets just five days later and has been a fixture in the rotation since then. The 29-year-old has averaged 12.9 PPG and 8.2 RPG in 25 games (24.4 MPG) for Houston.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Michael Frazier‘s new contract with the Rockets isn’t just a rest-of-season deal, according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports, who tweets that the pact will run through 2020/21, though it’s unlikely to feature any guaranteed money beyond this season. Since it’s a three-year contract, the Rockets had to use a portion of their mid-level exception on it.
  • When the Rockets signed Chris Chiozza last month, it appeared the team was putting itself in danger of surpassing the luxury-tax threshold if Clint Capela achieves certain incentives. However, a source tells David Weiner of ClutchFans.net (Twitter link) that the public tax figures for Houston are slightly off, and the Chiozza signing didn’t jeopardize the club’s standing below the tax. Presumably, Frazier’s deal didn’t either.
  • It’s still not clear exactly which Rockets tax figures are off, but a couple cap experts offered up theories. Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights wonders if Gary Clark‘s converted two-way contract doesn’t count quite as highly for tax purposes as previously believed; Albert Nahmad (Twitter link) hypothesizes that perhaps the NBA made an accommodation for the Rockets after having held up their Carmelo Anthony trade for several days due to a federal holiday.

Rockets Notes: Tucker, Faried, Clark, Harden

Rockets point guard Chris Paul is openly campaigning for forward P.J. Tucker to make the league’s All-Defensive First Team, but Tucker isn’t looking for individual accolades, as he told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

“I don’t know why he’s doing that,” Tucker said. “I’m not one of those guys that’s going to make my case for making it, be mad and cry if I don’t. I don’t care. I want to win. I don’t care if somebody says I’m the best or the worst defender. I’m going to go out and do what I do every single night no matter what. I never got praise for anything I’ve done so I don’t look for it.”

Barring a trade, Tucker will remain the team’s perimeter stopper for at least one more season. Tucker’s $8,349,039 salary for next season is locked in, though his $8MM salary for the 2020/21 season is not guaranteed.

We have more on the Rockets:

  • Power forward Kenneth Faried is expected to return on Monday after missing five games with a sore hip and strained adductor, Feigen reports. Faried has posted 14.9 PPG and 9.4 RPG in 16 games since signing with Houston after he was waived by Brooklyn in January.
  • The salary protection for forward Gary Clark is locked in at $708,426 for the 2019/20 season, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. The Houston forward had a clause in his contract that would have guaranteed his full salary ($1.4MM) if he appeared in more than 36 games and either played in one playoff game or was waived by April 10. Clark has appeared in 41 games but 21 were played under his two-way deal, which didn’t count toward those 36 games. Clark did not play in Sunday’s win over Dallas.
  • James Harden‘s play has created a new way of evaluating players, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle to Feigen and other media members. “It’s a pretty remarkable phenomenon,” Carlisle said. “I don’t know if there’s ever been anything quite like this. They’re extremely effective. He’s extremely effective. It’s bringing new metrics into play and things like that. There’s a lot of people studying it, looking at it. … One I heard this year is there is now a statistic on stepback shots, which I had never heard of before this year.”

Rockets Notes: Harden, Paul, Faried, Nene

After a scary fall on his right wrist and brief exit from the Rockets‘ win over the Sixers on Friday, precautionary x-rays on James Harden were negative, tweets ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. Harden is expected to play on Sunday against the Mavericks.

Harden returned to Friday’s game to finish with 31 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Last season’s Most Valuable Player leads the league in scoring, averaging 36.6 PPG.

“[He’s] dealing with pain [in the wrist], I guess,” head coach Mike D’Antoni said after the game. “I don’t know, he just fell on it. He’s fallen on it before and is sore, so there was some pain there and then this just aggravated it.”

Check out more Rockets notes:

  • The Rockets have reeled off seven straight wins to move into third place in the Western Conference. A healthy Chris Paulwho has overcome a hamstring injury, holds the key for Houston to make a deep run into the postseason and beyond, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon writes.
  • Kenneth Faried missed Friday’s win over Philadelphia and will not play Sunday due to an adductor strain. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets that after undergoing an MRI, Faried is doubtful to play Monday.
  • In the absence of Faried, Nene has become the Rockets’ lone backup center, but he has played a major role in the team’s last few wins, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes.

Southwest Notes: Faried, Grizzlies, Caboclo, White

After being phased out of Denver’s rotation in 2017/18 and then becoming an afterthought in Brooklyn for the first half of this season, Kenneth Faried has experienced a career resurgence with the Rockets in recent weeks.

As Kelly Iko of The Athletic details, part of that resurgence can be attributed to Faried’s newfound three-point shot — after making three shots from beyond the arc in his first 453 NBA games, the big man has made six of 13 since arriving in Houston. As Faried tells it, he always had the ability to expand his shooting range, but wasn’t encouraged to do so until he signed with the Rockets.

“People always said I couldn’t shoot the three, and it wasn’t that. I just never took them,” Faried said. “Now that I’m taking them, people go, ‘Whoa, your shot is nice actually. Wow. You have a soft shot.’ I always had this, I just never did it. It was a respect thing — I knew how to get on the floor for my coaches.”

While Faried is currently day-to-day with a hip issue, he looks like a potential fixture in the Rockets’ rotation moving forward. In 16 games with the club (27.9 MPG), he has posted 14.9 PPG and 9.4 RPG on 60.2% shooting, and has even earned some playing time alongside center Clint Capela.

Here’s more out of the Southwest:

  • The Grizzlies will send their first-round pick to the Celtics if it falls outside of the top eight this spring, and have indicated they’d prefer to surrender it in 2019 rather than in a future year. David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal explains why, and lays out the various scenarios for that pick.
  • Bruno Caboclo‘s new two-year deal with the Grizzlies doesn’t include any guaranteed money for next season, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders confirms (via Twitter). However, according to Pincus, Caboclo will get a partial guarantee worth $300K if he remains under contract through July 10.
  • After missing six games for the Spurs in February, second-year guard Derrick White is back in the team’s lineup. San Antonio will need White to stay healthy down the stretch as the team pushes to secure a spot in the postseason, as Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News writes. “Derrick is important because he keeps everything a little bit more together,” head coach Gregg Popovich said. “Everybody understands where to be with Derrick out there. He has a great pace about him.”

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Southwest Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Southwest Division:

Maxi Kleber, 27, Mavericks, PF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $2.19MM deal in 2017
Kleber has received increased playing time since the blockbuster Kristaps Porzingis deal with the Knicks. He’s averaging 10.2 PPG and 4.8 RPG in 25.7 MPG as a starter this month while making 36% of his 3-point attempts. Kleber would be a restricted free agent if Dallas extends a $1.82MM qualifying offer. With loads of cap space to spare, the Mavs have plenty of incentive to make that modest offer for a rotation player, even though he’d probably move back to the bench next season when Porzingis is ready to play again.

Kenneth Faried, Rockets, 29, PF (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $917K deal in 2019
Clint Capela‘s return from a thumb injury this week will reduce the Manimal’s minutes. He’ll still play a valuable role for Houston, where he has revived his career after getting bought out by Brooklyn. After appearing in just 12 games with the Nets, Faried has averaged 15.7 PPG, 9.9 RPG and 1.0 BPG in 13 outings with the Rockets. It seems Faried has been in the league a long time, but he’s still just 29. In an era of stretch fours and fives, it’s questionable whether anyone views Faried as a starter going forward. He should still get a multi-year deal somewhere as a second-unit difference maker.

Justin Holiday, Grizzlies, 29, SF (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $9MM deal in 2017
Holiday was acquired from the Bulls when the Grizzlies still harbored hopes of making the playoffs. He didn’t move the needle at all before Memphis went into sell mode prior to the trade deadline. He’s averaged 8.2 PPG on 34.8% shooting (29.8% on 3-point tries) in 28.5 MPG with the Grizzlies. Holiday has posted below average PERs throughout his career, which doesn’t help his cause in the analytics era. Holiday has enough of a resume to land on someone’s bench next season but his days as a starter are likely over after this season.

Elfrid Payton, Pelicans, 25, PG (Down) — Signed to a one-year, $3MM deal in 2018
Payton inked a short-term, ‘show me’ contract after the former lottery pick flopped in Orlando and Phoenix. He was given the opportunity to replace free agent Rajon Rondo in the lineup but has spent a majority of the season in the trainer’s room. He’s appeared in just 19 games, with a right ankle sprain sidelining him for the last nine games heading into Friday’s action. The Pelicans lost six of the last eight games that he played. Payton will probably have to settle for another one-year deal this summer, this time in a backup role.

Dante Cunningham, Spurs, 31, SF (Down)– Signed to a one-year, $2.49MM deal in 2018
Cunningham has seen spot duty with the Spurs, averaging 15.9 MPG in 53 appearances. He’s managed to stay in the league for a decade, though he’s usually the No. 5 option at the offensive end. He accepts his limited role and provides some defense, so it’s possible he’ll squeeze out another veteran’s minimum deal with San Antonio or another playoff contender. But being on the wrong side of 30 means he’ll probably have to wait until late in the free agency period for an offer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nets Notes: Tsai, Faried, Russell

Nets minority owner Joseph Tsai has officially completed the purchase of the WNBA’s New York Liberty, the league announced today in a press release. The franchise was previously controlled by Knicks owner James Dolan.

“We are fortunate to welcome Joe Tsai to the WNBA family at a pivotal time for our league,” interim WNBA president Mark Tatum said in a statement. “We thank Jim Dolan and The Madison Square Garden Company for their incredible support of the WNBA over the past 22 years and for their commitment to finding the right owner for the Liberty. As active participants in the New York community, Joe and his team are very well-positioned to take the Liberty to exciting new heights.”

Tsai’s investment in the city’s WNBA franchise is the latest signal of his commitment to New York basketball. While Tsai is technically only a minority stakeholder in the Nets for the time being, he owns 49% of the franchise and his agreement with Mikhail Prokhorov will give him the opportunity to assume controlling interest in the team by 2021.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Although Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson consistently praised Kenneth Faried‘s attitude and work ethic during the big man’s time in Brooklyn, Faried called his Nets tenure “frustrating” and felt that the club wasn’t being straight with him, as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News relays. Faried said he got the impression that the Nets didn’t trust him, and eventually decided he’d welcome a move. “That was the perception. The, ‘I don’t know you yet,'” he said. “A lot of beating around the bush as to why they wouldn’t play me. So it was like, if we figure something out then let’s immediately make that move. Because I don’t want to hinder y’all, and y’all hindering my career, pretty much.”
  • With restricted free agency looming this summer, D’Angelo Russell is playing the best basketball of his career, writes Greg Joyce of The New York Post. That’s an opinion shared by both Russell and his head coach. “He’s playing at an All-Star level, quite honestly,” Atkinson said. “And physically he looks great. I told him, ‘I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep doing it, because you look fast, you look recovered, you look spry.'”
  • While the Nets don’t have the Knicks’ history and don’t play in the world’s most famous arena, Brooklyn is establishing itself as an appealing free agent destination, opines Newsday columnist Barbara Barker.

Southwest Notes: Carmelo, Cousins, Faried, DSJ

The Carmelo Anthony trade between the Rockets and Bulls is still expected to get done at some point soon, but the trade call has yet to take place, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. According to Stein, the deal may have to be amended due to a discrepancy involving the rights to a draft-and-stash player.

In addition to receiving Anthony and cash in the trade, the Bulls are also expected to receive the rights to Marko Todorovic, while the Rockets receive Tadija Dragicevic‘s rights, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. However, according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), the NBA has made an effort to crack down on swaps that include a player who aren’t expected to ever come stateside. It’s not clear if those efforts will impact what the Rockets/Bulls swap ultimately looks like.

Let’s round up a few more items from out of the Southwest…

  • Within an article about DeMarcus Cousins‘ free agency and his debut with Golden State, the big man admits to Shams Charania of The Athletic that he hasn’t forgotten about how his time with the Pelicans playing alongside Anthony Davis ended. “I think about our pairing all the time,” Cousins said. “Me and A.D. talk about it. It’s f—ed up. It could’ve been something great, something special, but other people had different things in mind. That’s out of our control, and you never know what’ll happen later on down the line.”
  • After sitting on the bench in Denver and Brooklyn, Kenneth Faried is happy to have an opportunity to play an actual role for the Rockets, as Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle details. “The coaches and team believe in me,” Faried said. “They want me to come out and do what I do. I’m excited to be here.”
  • The Mavericks are listing Dennis Smith Jr. as a probable starter for his return game tonight, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, who tweets that the club never discussed a possible move to the bench with Smith before his sabbatical.
  • Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic has been fined $10K for kicking the game ball into the stands during Saturday’s game, the NBA announced today in a press release.