Kirk Hinrich

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Durant, Abrines, Leonard

Having missed out on free agent forward Dante Cunningham, the Timberwolves remain on the lookout for a couple more veterans to fill out their roster, and Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News suggests (via Twitter) that it’s worth keeping an eye on Aaron Brooks. While Minnesota wants to sign a wing player, the team also continue to seek a backup point guard, and Tom Thibodeau has a history with Brooks, a former Bull.

Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune also identifies Brooks as a potential target for the Timberwolves, suggesting that C.J. Watson and Kirk Hinrich – another player with a Thibodeau connection – may be options as well. As for possible fits at the forward spot, Zgoda indicates that Gerald Green and Thomas Robinson are among the veteran free agents who could be in play for Minnesota.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Appearing at a tech conference in San Francisco this week, Kevin Durant expressed remorse for the tweets sent from his Twitter account earlier this week, calling them “idiotic” and “childish,” as Mark Medina of The Bay Area News Group details. The messages, in which Durant was critical of his former Thunder teammates and head coach Billy Donovan, drew a response from Enes Kanter. According to Andrew Joseph of USA Today, Kanter said he wasn’t mad about the tweets, but said it was “really sad” to see Durant express those views about an organization that “gave everything to him.”
  • After injuring his knee this summer, Alex Abrines is pain-free and feels like he can do “everything” on the court, but he’s still waiting to receive full clearance from the Thunder, as Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman details.
  • After signing a lucrative new four-year deal with the Trail Blazers last summer, Meyers Leonard had a disappointing 2016/17 season, but there’s reason to believe better things are in store for Leonard going forward, writes Jason Quick of CSNNW.com.

Eastern Notes: Plumlee, Baynes, Farmar, House

The Hornets took a major risk by acquiring center Miles Plumlee from the Bucks, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer opines. Charlotte needed to do something to improve its playoff chances but taking on Plumlee’s contract was a questionable move, Bonnell continues. Plumlee signed  four-year, $50MM contract with Milwaukee last summer and that’s a steep price for a backup center to Cody Zeller, Bonnell adds. The Hornets traded two other big men, Roy Hibbert and Spencer Hawes, in the deal. Hornets coach Steve Clifford and his staff have done well with reclamation projects such as Nicolas Batum and Jeremy Lin, Bonnell points out, providing some reason for optimism that the trade will pan out.

In other doings around the Eastern Conference:

  • Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said it’s “hardly a surprise” that backup center Aron Baynes intends to opt out of his contract this summer, Aaron McMann of MLive.com reports. Baynes holds a $6.5MM option and reportedly has been shopped, in part because he’s expected to enter the free agent market this summer. “We don’t want to lose him,” Van Gundy told McMann and other beat writers. “I would love to be able to bring him back here, I really would. But at the same time, we knew going into the summer that was going to be a possibility — and that’s why we went out and signed Boban (Marjanovic) a year in advance and we had money, because we anticipated it.”
  • Point guard Jordan Farmar stood out during the Cavaliers’ tryout of free agent playmakers on Wednesday and he’s willing to sign a 10-day contract to join the team, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon also reported that Farmar made the biggest impression. Farmar received assurances that if anyone from the workout would get an offer, he would be the choice, a source told McMenamin. Lance Stephenson, Mario Chalmers and Kirk Hinrich also participated in the workout and the latter two were looking for a contract for the remainder of the season, McMenamin continues. The Cavs would prefer to keep their options open prior to the trade deadline, rather than offering a guaranteed deal at this point, McMenamin adds.
  • Wizards swingman Danuel House will be assigned to the D-League if he’s cleared for full contact, J. Michael of CSNmidatlantic.com tweets. House, who has appeared in just one game with Washington this season, is progressing from a right wrist fracture that he suffered in November.

Central Notes: Cavaliers, Chalmers, Stuckey, McHale

The Cavaliers were happy with what they saw at today’s playmaker auditions, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.comMario Chalmers, Kirk Hinrich, Jordan Farmar and Lance Stephenson all participated in a workout as the Cavs search for a reliable backup to Kyrie Irving. Several sources told Vardon that the session went very well and that one or more could be signed by March 1.

There’s more tonight from the Central Divsion:

  • Veteran swingman James Jones thinks Chalmers, his former teammate in Miami, would be a good addition to the roster, relays Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Chalmers teamed with Jones and LeBron James on Heat teams that reached four straight NBA Finals. A torn Achilles last March has kept Chalmers out of the league, but he was medically cleared for basketball activities in August and Jones has kept in touch with him throughout rehab. “Coming back from an injury is a lonely process,” Jones said. “What I mean is that you spend a lot of time alone and learn a lot about yourself, but he’s doing well. He pushed hard, he worked hard to come back from that and he’s feeling well and moving well. I’m just glad that he’s back and doing what he loves, which is playing basketball.”
  • Rodney Stuckey returned to the Pacers tonight after a 15-game absence with a hamstring injury, write Jordan J. Wilson and Nate Taylor of the Lafayette Journal and Courier. Stuckey had been participating in practice and said he felt “back to normal” since last Monday, but team trainers remained cautious. Stuckey suffered a right hamstring strain during the second game of the season and sat out the next 10. He came back November 18th, but it started hurting again less than a month later. “Coming into the season, my body felt great,” Stuckey said. “It felt like I was in great shape. Mentally I was ready and then all of the sudden, boom, a hamstring. Then boom, another hamstring. I’ve never had hamstring problems in my career.”
  • Celtics legend Kevin McHale is backing up Rajon Rondo, who criticized Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler for going to the media with complaints about teammates last week. In an interview on Sam Amick’s A to Z podcast, McHale said success and failure in the NBA is determined by star players. “You don’t lose because your eighth man’s in a slump,” McHale said. “It’s the top players who’ve got to drive your team to win.”

Cavs Working Out Hinrich, Chalmers, Stephenson

The Cavaliers are surveying the free agent market in search of potential reinforcements, according to Chris Haynes of ESPN.com, who reports that the team will work out several veteran players on Wednesday. Kirk Hinrich, Mario Chalmers, and Lance Stephenson are among the players scheduled to audition for Cleveland, per Haynes.

[RELATED: LeBron James, Cavs at odds over team payroll]

Having made a two-for-one trade when they acquired Kyle Korver earlier this month, the Cavaliers have had an open roster spot for the last few weeks, and could potentially create another one if they decide to waive Chris Andersen, who is out for the year with a torn ACL. Sources with knowledge of the team’s thinking tell Haynes that one of the participants in Wednesday’s workout could be signed before the All-Star break, using that roster opening.

Some of the veteran free agents participating in the Cavaliers’ workout on Wednesday will be out to prove that they’re healthy. Chalmers has been recovering from a torn Achilles for most of the season, but is believed to be ready to return to action. Stephenson, meanwhile, was cut by the Pelicans in the fall after he suffered a groin injury. Like Chalmers, Stephenson is said to be healthy now, according to Haynes.

While one of the participants in Wednesday’s workout could become a Cav, the team is considering many options to fortify its roster, including possible trade scenarios. Former NBA forward Josh Smith is among the other free agents on the club’s radar as well, sources tell Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net (Twitter link). The Cleveland front office has been under pressure from LeBron James to add a “playmaker” to the roster to help lighten the load for the team’s stars.

Based on the Cavs’ current tax situation, any player added to the roster will count as $2.50 toward the team’s tax bill for every $1 he earns.

Cavs Looking To Trade For Backup Point Guard

OCTOBER 21, 12:32pm: The Cavs are at an impasse with Williams and are trying to attach his contract to McRae in a trade in order to reduce their tax penalties, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. Windhorst also confirms that the Cavs were essentially showcasing McRae during the preseason.

OCTOBER 20, 3:31pm: After waiving Toney Douglas last week, the Cavaliers remain in the market for a veteran point guard to back up Kyrie Irving and complement rookie Kay Felder, reports Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. According to Vardon, the Cavs have engaged in “advanced discussions” with at least one team and hope to make a deal before the start of the regular season next week.

[RELATED: Wolves, others have inquired on Iman Shumpert]

While Vardon doesn’t offer specifics on the Cavs’ negotiations, he points to a couple players who could be moved in potential deals. Jordan McRae had a strong preseason, but doesn’t have a clear role in the Cavs’ rotation, and could appeal to trade partners. Additionally, Mo Williams intends to retire, but hasn’t formally filed his papers and remains on Cleveland’s books — his contract could be used to help match salaries.

According to Vardon, the Cavs have explored the free agent market for a potential solution at the point, participating in contract discussions with Norris Cole, Mario Chalmers, and Kirk Hinrich. However, Cole signed a deal with a team in China, and Cleveland doesn’t believe Chalmers will be fully health until the new year.

If the Cavaliers do make a trade, they could put one or more of their traded player exceptions to use. Cleveland is one of just four NBA teams to currently hold a TPE, and their biggest exception is worth $9,638,554, which would accommodate a majority of the contracts around the league. Still, as Bobby Marks of The Vertical notes in a piece about waiver claims, the club will have to be careful about adding too much extra salary. Based on their current position in the tax, the Cavs would be penalized $3.25MM for every $1MM they add to their 2016/17 salary total.

Cavs Consider Adding Point Guard Depth

With Mo Williams announcing his retirement earlier today, the only true point guard on the Cavaliers’ roster to back up Kyrie Irving is rookie Kay Felder. Despite GM David Griffin saying that the team is “comfortable” with the point guard spot, Cleveland is seeking to bolster the position via free agency, Joe Vardon of The Northeast Ohio Media Group reports. To that end, the Cavs have been in contact with Norris Cole, Mario Chalmers, and Kirk Hinrich, Vardon adds.

We feel very comfortable with where we are at the point guard position, the versatility that we have to absorb that,” Griffin told the media. “We have other people that can guard the position. Because of LeBron James, we have additional people that can also play the position offensively, and frankly we’re really excited about finding out what some of the younger players on our roster can do. This is a training camp that for the first time since I’ve been here I think will be incredibly competitive, relative to roster spots themselves, and we’re really excited about the guys that we have in camp who have a chance to earn a job.”

The Cavs have been in contact with all three of the players mentioned above, anticipating Williams hanging up his sneakers and retiring, a source told Vardon. But the team appears to be in no rush to sign anyone, preferring to let Felder get some experience in training camp and to see if coach Tyronn Lue can make his rotation work without adding a new player to the mix, Vardon relays.

Cole has also drawn interest from the Sixers and Nuggets, Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net relays (via Twitter). The 27-year-old made 45 appearances for the Pelicans last season, averaging 10.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 26.6 minutes per outing. His shooting line was .405/.324/.800.

Chalmers was James’ teammate when LeBron was a member of the Heat. The 30-year-old made 55 appearances for the Grizzlies last season prior to tearing his Achilles in March. He was subsequently waived by the team. Chalmers notched averages of 10.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 22.8 minutes per night. His slash line was .417/.326/.827

The 35-year-old Hinrich is the oldest of the trio mentioned. He split time between the Bulls and Hawks in 2015/16, making a combine 46 appearances and averaging 3.0 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 13.7 minutes per night. His shooting numbers were .380/.387/.938.

Eastern Notes: Mickey, Brown, Wall, Beal

Jordan Mickey‘s spot on the Celtics‘ roster seems safe even in a crowded training camp, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE. With John Holland being waived today, Boston has 18 players on its roster, with 16 on fully guaranteed contracts. But the Celtics don’t seem likely to cut ties with Mickey after making a four-year commitment to him last offseason. After taking him in the second round of the 2015 draft, Boston gave Mickey a $5MM deal with a higher annual salary than first-round pick R.J. Hunter received. Mickey appeared in just 16 games for Boston as a rookie, spending most of the season with the team’s Maine affiliate in the D-League. He led the league in blocks with 4.4 per game and was a D-League All-Star. Blakely writes that the Celtics want to see more of Mickey at the NBA level before making a long-term decision.

There’s more tonight from the Eastern Conference:

  • Celtics power forward Jaylen Brown was voted the most athletic rookie by his fellow Class of 2016 members, relays CSNNE. Brown, the third player taken in the June draft, topped an NBA.com poll with 38.7% of the votes, followed by the Clippers’ Brice Johnson with 16.1% and the Suns’ Marquese Chriss with 9.7%.
  • It’s healthy for John Wall and Bradley Beal to be open about their disagreements, contends Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report. He believes the Wizards‘ backcourt tandem will improve their communication because they’re willing to speak publicly about the problem, which Bucher describes as both wanting to be the dominant personality on the team. Bucher doesn’t think there’s a need to trade either one because their skills are complementary.
  • The Knicks are gambling with their point guard position by bringing in two players with significant injury histories, writes Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders. New York traded for Derrick Rose, whose 66 games last season were by far the most since tearing his ACL in the 2012 playoffs, and signed Brandon Jennings, who suffered an Achilles tear in January of 2014. Beer lists several unsigned players the Knicks should consider as insurance: Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Kirk Hinrich, Nate Robinson, Jordan Farmar, Andre Miller and Lance Stephenson.

Eastern Rumors: Bulls, Celtics, Pistons, Sixers

Bulls GM Gar Forman wouldn’t rule out the idea of trading Jimmy Butler when asked Wednesday night, notes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Both Forman and Executive VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson made it clear no one on the roster is truly off-limits for a trade, Johnson writes, and changes are coming to coach Fred Hoiberg‘s coaching staff, sources tell Johnson. Still, Hoiberg will be sticking around, Paxson confirmed, according to Johnson, and owner Jerry Reinsdorf issued a statement backing Forman and Paxson. Paxson confirmed the Bulls would like to re-sign Joakim Noah, Johnson also notes.

See more from Chicago amid news from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Celtics refused to give up Jae Crowder in trade talks with the Bulls before the deadline, scuttling any realistic possibility of a trade, league sources tell Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago. Jimmy Butler‘s name reportedly was the center of those discussions, though Goodwill hears they spoke with teams about Derrick Rose and confirms earlier reports that they had Pau Gasol trade talks, too.
  • The Bulls were on board with a trade that would have involved Pau Gasol, Tony Snell and Kirk Hinrich going out and Kosta Koufos and Ben McLemore coming in from the Kings, but Sacramento withdrew from those talks when the Sixers, who were to be included as a third team, insisted the Kings relinquish a second-round pick, Goodwill hears. Sacramento was also reluctant to give into the Bulls’ desire to reduce the top-10 protection on the 2016 first-rounder the Kings owe them, according to Goodwill.
  • The Cavaliers made it a priority to sign a perimeter defender like Dahntay Jones as insurance for Iman Shumpert instead of a point guard to offset the injury to Mo Williams because they envision LeBron James running the point in a pinch, accoriding to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. The Cavs inked Jones earlier today as Williams reportedly headed to New York for further examination on his sore left knee.
  • Coach Brett Brown said the replacement of GM Sam Hinkie with new president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo won’t result in a change to the team’s playing style, and he called for the front office to focus on strong defenders and veteran big men as they seek offseason upgrades, observes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Brown also spoke highly of Elton Brand, Pompey notes. Brand is heading back into free agency and isn’t sure he’ll keep playing.

Bulls Notes: Felicio, Gasol, Forman, Hoiberg

The recent performance of Cristiano Felicio offers more proof that the Bulls should have traded Pau Gasol before February’s deadline, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN.com. The Brazilian rookie center had 16 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes in Saturday’s win over Cleveland, and coach Fred Hoiberg chose to use Felicio over Gasol late in the game. Friedell gives executives Gar Forman and John Paxson credit for finding Felicio, but contends it was foolish to keep Gasol as part of the future when he will turn 36 this summer and can become a free agent. Gasol has already expressed an intention to opt out, which means the Bulls may get nothing in return when they could have picked up assets and created playing time for Felicio and rookie Bobby Portis.

There’s more news out of Chicago:

  • Forman worked hard to land Felicio, according to Sam Smith of Bulls.com. The Bulls GM had been watching him for several years as he moved to the United States and made a failed attempt to become eligible to play at Oregon. After Felicio returned to Brazil, Forman traveled there to scout him in several tournaments and signed him to the Bulls’ summer league team.
  • There’s plenty of blame to go around for a failed season, contends K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Chicago is almost certain to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2007/08, and Johnson says the responsibility goes from the front office to the coaching staff to a mismatched roster. Forman has carried the most influence behind the scenes, according to Johnson, as he was the leading proponent of hiring Hoiberg and of passing on a chance to deal Gasol to the Kings. Johnson notes that the front office is now less enamored with Gasol, as re-signing center Joakim Noah has become a higher offseason priority. Forman also angered the locker room by trading popular veteran point guard Kirk Hinrich to Atlanta to cut the Bulls’ luxury tax payment by more than $2.5MM.
  • Despite complaints about Hoiberg, the coaching staff is expected to remain mostly intact for next season, Johnson writes in the same story. Management believes the problem this year was that the core of the team was kept together too long. One possible change is assistant Randy Brown could return to a front-office position. Brown is liked by players, Johnson relays, and some view him as Forman’s direct link to the coaching staff.

And-Ones: Hinrich, Rubio, Leuer, Draft

Kirk Hinrich says he’s enjoying his time with the Hawks, but the trade that sent him to Atlanta from the Bulls last month took him from his family, and they’ll be a consideration as the 35-year-old decides whether to retire this summer, observes K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. Hinrich’s contract expires at season’s end. “I would love to keep playing if the situation was ideal,” Hinrich said. “At this point, I have to think about my family as well.” The 13th-year veteran’s chances of an extended stay in Atlanta don’t appear too strong, as he’s a third-stringer and has appeared in only seven games since the February 18th trade.

See more from around the NBA:

  • Ricky Rubio acknowledged that the Timberwolves had trade talks about him last month, but he’s confident the team isn’t going to ship him out, as he said in an appearance on the “Tot Gira” show on Catalunya Radio in Spain (transcription via Gigantes del Basket; translation via HoopsHype). Rubio, under contract through the 2018/19 season, was linked in trade deadline rumors to the Bucks and, less prominently, the Knicks.
  • Jon Leuer‘s playing time on the Suns this season has been wildly inconsistent, but he’s put up the best numbers of his career, and interim coach Earl Watson is pushing the soon-to-be free agent to fulfill the potential he sees in him, as Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic details. “I’m tough on Jon because I think the world of him.” Watson said. “His skill is unique. Our biggest challenge with Jon, and it was direct, was we need to be tougher, more aggressive in the paint, more aggressive rebounding. Go out in the post and just lose yourself to changing the game defensively.
  • South Florida freshman point guard Jahmal McMurray will test the draft waters, the school announced, indicating that he won’t immediately hire an agent. Thus, he’ll retain his college eligibility in case he decides to withdraw before the May 25th deadline to do so. McMurray is a long-shot prospect, falling outside the rankings that both Chad Ford of ESPN.com and Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress compile.
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