Kent Bazemore

Trade Rumors: Butler, Bledsoe, Hawks, Cavs

While the Bulls still aren’t close to moving Jimmy Butler, there appears to be more “organizational alignment” than there was last year on the idea that a rebuild is in the team’s best interest, reports K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Chicago’s asking price for Butler hasn’t changed, according to Johnson, who says the team would be seeking starters or rotation players, along with multiple high draft picks.

Since the Bulls would like to land a high pick in Thursday’s draft if they move Butler, the Celtics (No. 3), Suns (No. 4), and Timberwolves (No. 7) would make sense as trade partners. However, as Johnson details, the Bulls have received the impression that Boston plans to use the third overall pick, and Minnesota’s seventh overall pick likely wouldn’t put Chicago in position to nab one of the top prospects they like, such as De’Aaron Fox or Josh Jackson.

Here are more trade rumors from around the league, including notes on Chicago’s other potential trade partner, the Suns:

  • The Suns have explored the possibility of trading their No. 4 overall pick in a deal for a star, having looked into players like Butler, Paul George, and Kristaps Porzingis, Adrian Wojnarowski noted during The Vertical’s live show on Wednesday night. Sources tell K.C. Johnson that Phoenix is also looking to include Eric Bledsoe, who has two years left on his contract, in any major trade package.
  • On The Vertical’s live show, Wojnarowski identified the Hawks as a team to watch on the trade market, suggesting that new GM Travis Schlenk may be looking to cut costs as he retools the roster. Kent Bazemore could be a trade candidate in Atlanta, per Wojnarowski.
  • Even without a GM in place, the Cavaliers continued to work “furiously” on Wednesday pursuing trade possibilities, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. It appears the Cavs and Chauncey Billups are close to reach an agreement that would add him to their front office, but the team is more focused on working the trade market, and will continue trying to find a deal on Thursday.
  • Within a larger piece about the draft, Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun suggests the Raptors are confident about their chances to re-sign Serge Ibaka in free agency, which could make Jonas Valanciunas expendable in the right deal.

Hawks Notes: Howard, Millsap, Bazemore, Workout

Dwight Howard expressed anger today after his exit interview about his deteriorating role with the Hawks, relays Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Howard saw less playing as the season wore on, then averaged just 26.2 minutes per game during the playoff series with Washington. Coach/executive Mike Budenholzer believed the offense worked better without Howard and frequently opted for a smaller lineup with Paul Millsap at center. This comes just months after the Hawks gave Howard $70.5MM over three years to return to his hometown. “It was very difficult,” Howard told reporters. “I want to play. I want to be out on the floor. I want to make a difference. I want to make an impact, and I can’t do that on the bench.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:
  • Earlier today, we told you that Millsap intends to opt out of his nearly $21.5MM deal for next year. Even though he’s hitting the open market, the 32-year-old power forward says his first choice is to remain in Atlanta, according to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Eventually I probably will opt out, yes,” Millsap said. “But I want to be here. I think talks have been pretty good, so we’ll see what happens.” Millsap led the Hawks in scoring this season at 18.1 points per game, and was second in rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. Vivlamore expects him to get maximum offers this summer, but Atlanta has the advantage of Bird rights. The Hawks can offer five years at up to $205MM, while other teams will be limited to four years at $158.4MM.
  • The Hawks’ efforts to keep Millsap will stretch from the front office to the locker room. Owner Tony Ressler has said the organization will make “every effort imaginable” to re-sign Millsap, and Charles Odum of The Associated Press writes that teammates will be involved as well. “I’m definitely recruiting Millsap to come back,” said Kent Bazemore.
  • Utah’s Kyle Kuzma was among the players at the Hawks’ pre-draft workout this morning, Vivlamore tweets. The junior power forward is ranked 59th in the latest mock draft from Jonathan Givony at DraftExpress.
  • Rookies Taurean Prince and DeAndre’ Bembry are definites for summer league, according to Budenholzer, and they may be joined by Isaia Cordinier, a second-round pick in 2016 who spent this season in France (Twitter link).

Paul Millsap To Miss Three Games With Left Knee Synovitis

Paul Millsap has been sidelined since March 16, and the four-time All-Star has now been ruled out of the Hawks‘ next three games. According to a team press release, Millsap has been diagnosed with left knee synovitis and underwent a non-surgical procedure at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center. Millsap, whose status will be “updated as appropriate,” would next be eligible to play on April 2 against the Nets.

Millsap’s injury comes at a time when the Hawks could use him the most, having dropped seven straight in midst of a playoff run. In addition to Millsap, the Hawks are missing Kent Bazemore and Thabo Sefolosha due to injury. While Bazemore’s return to action is “trending in the right direction,” point guard Dennis Schroder implored his teammates not to wait around for injured players to return.

“I’m saying now we have to change something,” Schroder said in an Associated Press report. “We can’t wait until they come back. Maybe it’s too late then. The NBA isn’t easy. You’ve got to win games to make it in the playoffs.”

Prior to the injury, Millsap had averaged 19.6 points with seven rebounds over his last eight games.

Kent Bazemore Out At Least One Week With Bone Bruise

Kent Bazemore exited last night’s game against the Blazers with a right knee contusion. After being evaluated this morning, Bazemore was shown to have suffered a right knee bone bruise. Bazemore will be treated and reevaluated in 7-10 days (Hawks press release).

The Hawks will have to make do without Bazemore or Paul Millsap, who will miss Atlanta’s next two games with left knee soreness, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta currently occupies the fifth seed of the Eastern Conference, staked to a 1.5 game lead over the Pacers.

It’s been an up-and-down season for Bazemore, who signed a four-year, $70MM contract before 2016/17. Bazemore’s shooting percentage dropped nearly four points from his 2015/16 campaign, at one point averaging 7.8 points over a 17-game stretch.

The Hawks are likely to recall DeAndre’ Bembry in Bazemore’s absence, Vivlamore reports (Twitter link),

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Bazemore, Magic, Heat

Having won 16 of their last 19 games, the Wizards have moved into the No. 3 spot in the East, and look increasingly well-positioned to land home-court advantage in the first round of the postseason. While critics have pointed to Washington’s bench as an area that needs to be upgraded if the team wants to make a playoff run, J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com says there’s “ample evidence” to suggest the bench’s production has been “adequate if unspectacular.” As Michael explains, the box-score numbers for the Wizards’ second unit may not pop off the page, but the unit has been impressive defensively, particularly with Ian Mahinmi back in the mix.

Here’s more from around the Southeast division:

  • Kent Bazemore received several lucrative four-year contract offers in free agency last summer, but he had an up and down first half after re-signing with the Hawks. As Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution writes, Bazemore has turned a corner in recent weeks as he’s gotten healthy, and he’s now making good on his $70MM deal.
  • A weekend report indicated that the Magic will wait until the offseason to make a decision on the fate of general manager Rob Hennigan, but in the view of Mike Bianchi of The Orlando Sentinel, it’s an easy decision. According to Bianchi, Hennigan’s rebuild has been a failure, and he needs to go.
  • In a pair of pieces for The South Florida Sun Sentinel, Ira Winderman examines how the Heat‘s chances of landing an impact player in the 2017 draft have been affected by the team’s recent hot streak, and explores what the team might have to give up in a hypothetical Serge Ibaka trade.
  • Veteran forward James Johnson has a larger role with the Heat this season than he has ever had before in his NBA career, and he has responded with career-best production, including 12.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 3.3 APG. Shandel Richardson of The Sun Sentinel takes a look at how Johnson has thrived in an expanded role, which bodes well for the 29-year-old’s upcoming free agency.

Southeast Notes: Mahinmi, Bazemore, Howard

Free agent addition Ian Mahinmi will play his first game of the season for the Wizards tonight, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Washington signed the 30-year-old center to a four-year, $64MM deal in July, but he has been out of action since October 14th when he had surgery to fix a partially torn medial meniscus in his left knee. Coach Scott Brooks said he will monitor Mahinmi’s playing time for a while, and he understands the center will need time to play himself back into shape (Twitter link).

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Brooks will continue to monitor the minutes of John Wall and Bradley Beal, but there will be no restrictions for Otto Porter, who suffered a hip injury on Monday, tweets J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.
  • Kent Bazemore‘s love of Atlanta and his charity work in the city were important factors in keeping him in a Hawks uniform, relays Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. Several teams pursued Bazemore in free agency over the summer, but he opted to stay in Atlanta, where he operates a foundation that promotes health for underprivileged and distressed children and young adults. “I’ve always echoed you can be the greatest person you can be if you’re comfortable and I’m super comfortable in Atlanta,” Bazemore said. “My fiancé loves it and we’re starting to plant some roots there, my network is growing there, and it’s just a city of opportunity. It’s up and coming, and it’s a place I can see myself actually growing with, more so than going to other places where they may be too far behind or way ahead of the curve. This is a place where I can see myself being for the next 10 years maybe.”
  • Hawks center Dwight Howard says he didn’t quite fit in during his time with the Lakers and Rockets, Scotto adds in the same story. Howard is an eight-time All-Star, but he was passed over for the game the past two seasons. After signing with Atlanta this summer, he wants to show he can get back to that level. “I know what I can do for a team and I know what kind of problems I can present for opposing teams every night,” Howard said. “It’s always about opportunities and systems. I don’t think I had the right opportunity or right system the last two places I was in and where I could be the most effective. I think with this system right here, I get an opportunity to be effective on both ends of the floor and I still have a lot left in the tank.”

Eastern Notes: Bazemore, Howard, George

In a solid piece by Howard Megdal of Slam Magazine, the scribe examines the rise of Hawks swingman Kent Bazemore from an undrafted free agent to the player he is today. Discussing the success the team has enjoyed with Bazemore, coach/executive Mike Budenholzer said, “We knew when we signed Kent, and were able to add him to our program, that he was an elite defender, and an elite competitor. So I think defense and that competitiveness was there from day one. And we felt like he could grow and mature offensively. He’s been doing that. The first year was off the bench, the second year as a starter, and the third year, hopefully, he’ll continue to grow. He’s a great worker, he’s got a great heart. He’s the type of guy we want to work with.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Pacers forward Paul George will sit out tonight’s contest against Suns due to persistent soreness in his left ankle, Nate Taylor of The Indianapolis Star reports (Twitter links). George, who was unable to participate in the team’s practice today, is set to undergo an MRI on Saturday, Taylor adds. The 26-year-old is averaging 21.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 34.7 minutes per outing this season.
  • Chris Mannix of The Vertical weighed in on how the offseason signing of Dwight Howard has made the Hawks a better team. The big man has Atlanta among the top five in the league in offensive rebounding after finishing the 2015/16 campaign dead last in that department, Mannix adds. A number of scouts around the NBA believe Howard is looking the best that he has since departing Orlando, Mannix notes. “He’s as active as I’ve seen him in years,” a scout told Mannix regarding Howard. “With him there, everyone is playing up and aggressive on the ball.”
  • After starting the season on the inactive list, guard Jerian Grant is emerging as a vital piece in the Bulls‘ rotation, writes Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com. The player said his time on the sidelines motivated him to improve his game, Goodwill adds. “When you’re inactive you feel like you’re the last guy on the team,” said Grant. “Everybody else is out there suited up, so I wanted to prove to myself, to everybody out there that I’m not the last guy. I’m a guy that can contribute to this team.

Southeast Notes: Beal, Wall, Bazemore, Augustin

Bradley Beal called out his Wizards teammates for a lack of defensive effort after Saturday’s loss in Orlando, relays Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. The fifth-year shooting guard, who signed a five-year extension over the summer worth nearly $128MM, hinted that lineup changes could be coming soon if things don’t change. “The biggest thing we can control is our defense and that’s all about effort and wanting to play,” Beal said. “I think coach [Scott Brooks] is pretty fed up with the way we’re playing and I think he’s going to start playing guys who want to play and guys who want to show up.” The Magic were able to make up a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter when reserves Trey Burke, Marcus Thornton, Kelly Oubre and Jason Smith were on the court together, so those are probably the players Beal is talking about.

There’s more this morning from the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards are being careful with point guard John Wall after two offseason knee surgeries, which will put a greater burden on Beal, writes J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic. Wall sat out Saturday’s game, which was the second night of a back-to-back, a situation where Wall will likely be held out as a precaution, at least for a while. Washington has three more back-to-backs on the schedule in November and two in December. “Trey and Tomas [Satoransky] got to step up as well and lead us as point guards,” Beal said. “I just got to be aggressive, play my game. Not take over and feel like I’ve got to do everything. I can’t do it by myself.”
  • Hawks guard Kent Bazemore is off to a rocky start after signing a four-year, $70MM contract this summer, notes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution. He shot just 28% from the floor during the team’s first five games and is trying to find other ways to contribute until his scoring touch returns. “That’s one of the main reasons they brought me back, my tenacity and my love and passion for the game,” Bazemore said. “At times I’ve gotten a little down on myself. I’m human. It’s good that I can finally recognize that there is a time and place for everything and the middle of a game is not the time to get down on yourself.”
  • D.J. Augustin‘s scoring has been a pleasant early-season surprise for the Magic, writes John Denton of NBA.com. The veteran point guard, who signed a four-year deal with Orlando this summer, is averaging 7.8 points per game off the bench in limited minutes. “He’s really grown,” said Orlando coach Frank Vogel. “I had him a couple of years ago [in Indiana] and he’s improved as a player. He’s not just a catch-and-shoot guy. He’s making good basketball plays with the pass and his creativity with creating his own shot as well has improved. So he’s given us a big lift.’’

Pacific Notes: Bazemore, Kings, Clippers, Len

Hawks small forward Kent Bazemore rejected the Lakers’ four-year, $72MM contract offer this summer in part because the Lakers declined his $1.1MM qualifying offer in 2014, Mark Medina of the Orange County Register reports. Bazemore re-signed with the Hawks on a four-year, $70MM deal. After the Lakers sent him packing two years ago, he agreed to a two-year, $6MM contract with Atlanta, then emerged as a starter last season. “One thing you want in this league is to be wanted. They didn’t pick it up for that little amount of money,” Bazemore told Medina. “So that showed how much they believed in me and my abilities. That closed that chapter.”

In other developments regarding the Pacific Division:

  • The Kings have become a two-man show offensively, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee notes. DeMarcus Cousins is averaging 26.8 points and Rudy Gay is scoring at a 23.8 clip. Arron Afflalo is the next highest at 9.4, though the Kings tried to get him the ball more often in their last game. “Those are our two main guys,” Affalo told Jones. “That’s the way it’s set up right now for those guys to establish themselves on the offensive end. Guys have got to figure out how to pick their spots.”
  • The Clippers have been surprisingly inefficient in the early going offensively and Chris Paul says the starting unit is to blame, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports. The Clippers rank 24th in field-goal percentage and have only exceeded 41% once in four games. “In actuality, our second unit offense has been really good,” the All-Star point guard told Turner. “Our [first] unit, the one that’s usually clicking on all cylinders, I know that that can be fixed. So that’s why I’m optimistic. I’m actually more excited about our defense and how well we’ve been playing defense.”
  • Suns center Alex Len is setting up in the low post more often and that decision is paying dividends, Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic notes. Len had 18 points in 21 minutes off the bench against the Trail Blazers, mainly by staying in the paint. “Alex Len perfected simplicities of the game,” coach Earl Watson told Coro. “He kept it simple, and his numbers were better.”

Southeast Notes: Bazemore, Rudez, Wizards

As an unrestricted free agent this summer, Kent Bazemore drew serious interest from the Rockets and other teams, but ultimately re-signed with the Hawks on a four-year, $70MM contract. While Bazemore recognizes that there’s added pressure now that he’s on a lucrative new deal, he intends to get even better, telling Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he’s aiming to make the NBA’s All-Defensive team.

“I think, for me, if I do that then the [Hawks] will be in a great spot,” Bazemore said. “There are some very special teams this year with some very special players. If I can do well against them, we’ll have a great chance to win. … I’ve got to add to my Lefty Driesell Award from college. I’ve got a big gap in my defensive awards. I’ve got to put something else on the shelf.”

Here’s more from out of the Southeast:

  • As Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel details, the Magic kept two players on non-guaranteed contracts on their regular-season roster, including Damjan Rudez, who is thrilled to have made the team. According to Robbins, head coach Frank Vogel lobbied team executives to give the veteran forward a chance to earn a spot on the 15-man squad.
  • There were offseason rumblings about a potentially contentious on-court relationship between Wizards guards John Wall and Bradley Beal, but the backcourt duo is on the same page to open the season, per The Associated Press.
  • Andrew Nicholson could turn out to be one of the major free agent bargains of the summer for the Wizards, writes J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com.
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