Kristaps Porzingis

Southwest Notes: Davis, Pelicans, Rockets, Mavs

Responding to a report which claimed she had said she’d only trade Anthony Davis to the Lakers “over my dead body,” Pelicans owner Gayle Benson laughed and called it “totally absurd” and “completely untrue,” tweets Fletcher Mackel of WDSU.

Rumors of the Pelicans’ reluctance to send Davis to the Lakers have persisted since before the trade deadline. There was a perception that the timing of Davis’ trade request was orchestrated by his camp to attempt to push him to Los Angeles, with the Pels resisting that outcome.

While sending their All-NBA big man to a big-market conference rival may not be their first choice, the idea that the Pelicans would rule out a trade partner altogether is far-fetched — if the Lakers’ offer is clearly the most favorable, it wouldn’t make sense for New Orleans to look elsewhere out of spite.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Speaking of potential Davis trade talks, Kevin Knox may be a centerpiece in any Knicks offer for the Pelicans‘ star, but a source tells Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News that New Orleans isn’t high on the 2018 first-rounder.
  • In the view of Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer, the Rockets‘ biggest offseason priority should be adding a frontcourt player who is capable of creating shots and offense.
  • The risks associated with acquiring Kristaps Porzingis keep growing for the Mavericks, Kevin Sherrington of the Daily Morning News opines. While it’s unlikely to prevent owner Mark Cuban from offering Porzingis an extension this summer, the Latvian big man carries plenty of baggage with him, Sherrington continues. The latest unsavory incident is his alleged involvement in a bar room brawl in his home country.
  • Magic center Nikola Vucevic might be a better free agent fit than Hornets point guard Kemba Walker, Sherrington writes in a separate story. Vucevic would give Dallas size, rebounding, scoring and play-making, with his relative lack of athleticism the only downside. Walker and Doncic would have to share the ball and that approach didn’t work well with Dennis Smith Jr. this season, Sherrington notes.

Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.

Kristaps Porzingis Allegedly Involved In Latvian Brawl

2:21pm: Per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, the Mavericks are aware of the situation and are investigating the altercation.

2:18pm: As relayed by Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-TelegramMavericks’ big man Kristaps Porzingis was apparently involved in some sort of physical altercation in his home country of Latvia recently, which came to light upon the release of a video showing Porzingis with blood on his face.

While details have not yet been confirmed, there are reports from TMZ Sports that Porzingis was in his hometown of Liepaja this weekend celebrating some occasion when a “handful of Russians confronted Kristaps, supposedly upset with the fact that he’d (left the Knicks for the Mavericks) and an all-out tussle broke out.”

This incident continues an already tumultuous offseason for the 23-year-old, who is also under investigation for an alleged sexual assault in New York against a former neighbor of his in a high rise apartment complex.

When the assault allegations against Porzingis were made in late March, Mavs’ owner Mark Cuban declined to comment, but did say that “some people” (presumably Porzingis) need to do their homework and use some common sense. The Mavericks have yet to comment, but it will be interesting to see what they have to say after this latest incident.

Mavs Notes: Powell, Barea, Dirk, Porzingis

Mavericks big man Dwight Powell enjoyed a career year in 2018/19, establishing new career-highs in PPG (10.6) and FG% (.597) to go along with 5.3 RPG in a part-time role. Now, he’ll have to make a decision on a $10.26MM player option for 2019/20.

Speaking on Thursday to reporters, including Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link), Powell said, “I definitely want to be here.” However, he didn’t offer specifics on whether that meant picking up his player option or opting out and negotiating a new deal with Dallas. Even exercising his option and then working out a contract extension could be a possibility.

For their part, the Mavericks intend to do all they can to make sure Powell sticks with the team “for years to come,” president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said on Thursday (Twitter link via Townsend). According to Jeff Cavanaugh of 105.3 The Fan (Twitter link), owner Mark Cuban went a step further, suggesting during a radio appearance that the club plans to extend Powell for three seasons.

Nothing’s official yet, so while we wait to see what sort of agreement Powell and the Mavs might reach, let’s round up a few more items out of Dallas…

  • Veteran guard J.J. Barea continues to recover from a significant Achilles injury, but it sounds like the free-agent-to-be expects to be back with the Mavericks, as Eddie Sefko of relays (via Twitter). “I know what they want. They know what I want,” Barea said. “We’ll figure it out.”
  • Discussing his decision to retire earlier this week, Dirk Nowitzki said he just recently finalized his decision, adding that his ongoing foot issues helped cement his decision. “It just doesn’t make any sense to do that for one more season,” Nowitzki said, per Tim MacMahon of (Twitter link). Saad Yousuf of The Athletic, meanwhile, offers an entertaining oral history of Nowitzki’s final home game in Dallas.
  • Could Nowitzki become involved in the Mavericks’ ownership group during his retirement? Both he and Mark Cuban appear to be open to the idea, as Mike Fisher of writes.
  • Kristaps Porzingis will be the Mavericks’ “No. 1 priority” this offseason, Donnie Nelson said on Thursday. Head coach Rick Carlisle intends to visit Latvia and Slovenia this summer to see Porzingis and Luka Doncic (Twitter links via Townsend).

Potential 2019 RFAs Whose Qualifying Offers Will Be Impacted By Starter Criteria

The NBA’s rookie scale, which determines how much first-round picks earn during their first four NBA seasons, also dictates how much the qualifying offers will be worth for those players when they reach restricted free agency after year four. However, the value of those qualifying offers can fluctuate depending on whether or not a player has met the “starter criteria.”

Here’s how the starter criteria works:

A player who is eligible for restricted free agency is considered to have met the starter criteria if he plays at least 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency.

A player can also meet the criteria if he averages either of those marks in the two seasons prior to his restricted free agency. For instance, if a player started 50 games in 2016/17 and 32 in 2017/18, he’d meet the starter criteria, since his average number of starts over the last two seasons is 41.

A player’s ability or inability to meet the starter criteria can affect the value of the qualifying offer he receives as a restricted free agent, as follows:

  • A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 15th overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A player picked between 10th and 30th who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the ninth overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 21st overall pick would receive if he signed for 100% of the rookie scale.
  • For all other RFAs, the standard criteria determine the amounts of their qualifying offers.

Extending a qualifying offer to a player eligible for restricted free agency officially makes that player an RFA, ensuring that his team has the right of first refusal if he signs an offer sheet with another club. It also gives the player the option of signing that one-year QO.

Generally, the value of a restricted free agent’s qualifying offer isn’t hugely important, since very few RFAs accept those offers outright. There are exceptions though.

Two years ago, for instance, both players who signed their one-year QOs – Suns center Alex Len and Mavericks center Nerlens Noel – failed to meet the starter criteria heading into restricted free agency, reducing the value of their QOs to approximately $4.2MM (from $6.4MM and $5.85MM, respectively). Had Len and Noel met the starter criteria and been eligible for those larger QOs, their free agencies could have played out differently.

Top-14 picks who failed to meet starter criteria:

With that in mind, let’s check in on how this year’s RFAs-to-be will be impacted by the starter criteria. Listed below are the former top-14 picks on track for restricted free agency who have not met the starter criteria. These players will be eligible for qualifying offers worth $4,485,665.

No player was hit harder by missing out on the starter criteria than Porzingis, who had no chance at meeting the playing-time requirements due to his torn ACL. If he’d stayed healthy, the former No. 4 overall pick would’ve been in line for a qualifying offer worth just over $7.5MM. Of course, it may not matter much, since Porzingis is expected to sign a long-term deal with the Mavericks anyway.

For Johnson, Kaminsky, and Lyles, falling short of the starter criteria was more about their roles than health issues.

First-round picks between 10-30 who met starter criteria:

Only one player falls into this group this season.

Because Oubre was selected between No. 10 and No. 30 in the 2015 draft and met the starter criteria, he’s eligible for a qualifying offer worth $4,915,726 instead of $4,485,665. No other players fit the bill this year, as many of the players drafted between Nos. 10 and 30 in 2015 have either already been extended or are no longer on their rookie contracts.

Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, the 23rd overall pick in 2015, was the strongest candidate to join Oubre in this group, but fell just short of meeting the criteria, having started 80 games over the last two seasons — he needed to get to 82. Wizards forward Bobby Portis, the 22nd overall pick, also would have had a shot if he stayed healthy, but injuries limited his minutes over the last two seasons.

Second-round picks and UDFAs who met starter criteria:

The players listed below signed as second-round picks or undrafted free agents, but have met the starter criteria and are now eligible for a qualifying offer worth $3,021,354.

Tomas Satoransky (Wizards) was another player who qualified for this group, but because his initial NBA contract was more lucrative than most, his qualifying offer will already be worth $3,911,484 based on other criteria.

There were a few second-round picks and UDFAs who just missed out on meeting the starter criteria, including Dorian Finney-Smith of the Mavericks (1,985 minutes played), Bulls guard Ryan Arcidiacono (1,961 minutes), and Clippers center Ivica Zubac (37 starts).

Those players, and the rest of this year’s restricted free agents, won’t have their projected qualifying offers impacted by the starter criteria.

Southwest Notes: Porzingis, Mavericks, Davis, Capela

The NBA would have rejected February’s trade between the Knicks and Mavericks centered around Kristaps Porzingis if the league believed the newly announced rape claim against Porzingis was strong, according to Marc Stein and Kevin Draper of the New York Times.

Porzingis, who was dealt to Dallas alongside Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Courtney Lee in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and two first-round picks, is being accused of sexually assaulting a woman in New York City last February.

“We have been aware of these allegations for some time, have evaluated the accuser’s claims and, based on what is presently before us, stand with Kristaps,” National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts said.

The Knicks made the Mavericks aware of a potential “extortion” issue with Porzingis, but it’s unclear whether Dallas was ever informed of the impending rape case. Mavs officials have been advised by federal authorities not to comment further on the matter.

“I’ve got nothing to say — n-o-t-h-i-n-g,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban said, spelling out the word. “When I said federal authorities said for us not to comment, they were being serious.”

From a basketball standpoint, Porzingis has a $4.5MM qualifying offer for the 2019/20 season. The Mavericks envision him to be a strong part of their future alongside young star Luka Doncic, and the team could explore signing a third star in free agency this summer.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division tonight:

  • The court of public opinion is beginning to sway in the favor of Porzingis in this case, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes. The accuser stayed in Porzingis’ home for nine hours after the alleged assault, as reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, appearing to enjoy the rest of her time with Porzingis. Porzingis has yet to play in a single game for the Mavericks.
  • Pelicans star Anthony Davis has been fined $15K for directing an obscene gesture toward a fan, the NBA announced on Thursday. The incident occurred while Davis was exiting the court after New Orleans’ 115-109 road loss to the Hornets on Wednesday night. Davis showed his middle finger toward the heckling fan, with his actions being captured on video and quickly circulating on social media.
  • A notable free throw bonus is still in play for Rockets center Clint Capela, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Capela needs to shoot 65% or higher from the charity stripe this season to obtain $500K, and the 24-year-old is holding a 63.4% mark with three games left on the season. The bonus could help push Houston into the tax if Capela reaches it and also earns a $1MM incentive for the Rockets making it back to the Western Conference Finals.

Mavs Were Told Porzingis Incident Involved Extortion

The Mavericks were told that the Kristaps Porzingis situation was a case of extortion rather than a rape allegation before they acquired him from the Knicks, sources told Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News reports.

A woman who lived in the same New York City apartment complex as Porzingis made the accusation to police last week. The alleged incident occurred in February 2018.

Knicks officials made Dallas executives aware of the pending allegation during a conference call to finalize the trade. However, the incident was not described that way. “The word that was used was ‘extortion,'” according to one of Townsend’s sources.

Knicks officials also told the Mavericks they felt Porzingis was truthful in his denials. The Mavericks were further informed that the FBI was investigating, Townsend adds.

A report from Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic also asserts the Mavericks were notified of the FBI investigation of the extortion claim before the trade but didn’t know about a sexual assault allegation.

NBA Players Association executive director Michele Roberts issued a statement supporting Porzingis: “We have been aware of these allegations for some time, have evaluated the accuser’s claims and, based on what is presently before us, stand with Kristaps.”

The woman contacted the Knicks‘ legal department approximately eight months after the alleged incident in an effort to “mediate in private” a payment of $68K. The accuser claimed that Porzingis agreed to co-sign a statement with her that promised her a payment toward her brother’s education. However, Porzingis’ attorney told ESPN that he believes the document is “a forgery.”

An investigation conducted by the same lawyer was sent to the Knicks, the NBA, the Players Association, and later the Mavericks, as well as the FBI, according to Vorkunov.

Riopelle claimed all of those parties agreed the analysis showed Porzingis was the target of an extortion attempt. However, a source told Vorkunov that the NBA has not come to that conclusion but instead decided to let the federal investigation proceed without coming to any judgment.

Porzingis opted to remain with the Mavericks and support them from the bench when they played the Sixers on Monday night. Coach Rick Carlisle said it was “business as usual from a basketball perspective” regarding Porzingis’ status with the club, Michael Lee of The Athletic tweets.

Some of his former Knicks teammates expressed empathy for Porzingis, as Marc Berman of the New York Post details.

Latest On Kristaps Porzingis Allegations

11:09am: Porzingis’ accuser told police that Porzingis hit her in the face several times and spit on her during the alleged incident, according to a TMZ report. She says he eventually stopped assaulting her, as she was putting up a fight.

Wojarowski’s report notes that the woman shared a photograph with the Knicks that she said showed hair loss and broken nose cartilage “from when he repeatedly hit me.” The woman said she had to pay approximately $10K for corrective surgery after the encounter.

Per Wojnarowski, the woman wrote the following in an email to the Knicks last October:

“After the extremely aggressive encounter, he was very apologetic, loving and caring … hence, the offer he made to pay my (little) bro’s tuition + more. … Although how he treated me was horrendous, as a Knicks fan, I do not want him to get him in any trouble with the law. I stayed back and enjoyed the rest of the time I spent with him. It’s crucial to note the fun times I had with him doesn’t negate the fact that he offered to compensate me as a soothing gift even though I didn’t ask him to.”

10:13am: The woman who has accused Kristaps Porzingis of rape contacted the Knicks‘ legal department approximately eight months after the alleged incident in an effort to “mediate in private” a payment of $68K, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. She told the team that she would “litigate this matter” if the Knicks failed to properly mediate it.

The communication between Porzingis’ accuser and the Knicks’ legal staff took place in October and November, at which time no criminal complaint had been filed with the NYPD, according to Wojnarowski, who says the club ultimately referred her to Porzingis’ personal legal representation.

The accuser, who described the alleged assault as an “extremely aggressive encounter,” claims that Porzingis subsequently agreed to co-sign a statement with her that promised her a payment of $68K toward her brother’s education. However, Porzingis’ attorney tells ESPN that he believes the document is “a forgery.”

What the accuser describes as a contractual agreement between her and Porzingis is a handwritten letter in which Porzingis’ name is repeatedly misspelled as “Kristap.” The alleged agreement includes two signatures, but Porzingis’ attorney doesn’t believe one of the signatures belongs to his client.

“Mr. Porzingis denies signing the alleged contract, which we believe is a forgery,” attorney Roland G. Riopelle said in a statement to Wojnarowski. “When asked to produce the original contract for handwriting analysis, the complainant declined to do so.”

The National Basketball Players Association has issued a statement saying that it stands with Porzingis as the case plays out in the legal system. As Wojnarowski notes, Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle has also said that KP would be permitted to take take time away from the team if he needs to.

Woj’s report includes many more details on the situation, and is worth checking out in full.

Mavericks Notes: Porzingis, Doncic, Dragic, Barea

The Knicks informed the Mavericks about the pending rape allegation against Kristaps Porzingis before completing the January trade that sent him to Dallas, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The league office was also told about the situation. Porzingis has denied the accusation through his attorney.

Dallas’ decision to go through with the deal is especially significant in light of a workplace misconduct scandal that the organization dealt with last year. The Mavericks overhauled their front office in response to response to numerous claims of sexual misconduct and received a glowing report from commissioner Adam Silver when he visited the team last month.

There’s more tonight from Dallas:

  • Luka Doncic‘s remarkable rookie season might be finished because of a right thigh contusion he suffered Thursday, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Coach Rick Carlisle confirmed that Doncic won’t play tomorrow at Oklahoma City and may be held out much longer. “We’re going to be very prudent with this and make sure that he’s 100% before even thinking about him getting back out there,” Carlisle said, adding that Doncic was fortunate to take the brunt of the collision on his thigh rather than his knee. Doncic is a heavy favorite to be named Rookie of the Year after averaging 21.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.9 assists in 70 games.
  • A league source says Miami’s Goran Dragic is unlikely to sign with Dallas this summer even though the Mavericks’ front office seems him as an ideal backcourt partner for Doncic, Townsend reports in a separate story. Dragic has to make a decision on a $19.2MM player option and won’t take less than than from another team, Townsend adds. Dallas will have about $30MM in cap space, but seems unlikely to spend most of it on a 32-year-old player coming off arthroscopic surgery. The source identified the Clippers’ Patrick Beverley, who is making just $5MM this season, as a more realistic target if the Mavs can’t land a top-flight option such as Kemba Walker or Klay Thompson.
  • Apart from Dirk Nowitzki if he decides to keep playing, J.J. Barea may be the only impending free agent that the Mavericks try to re-sign, according to Jordan Hicks of Basketball Insiders. Barea may not be able to provide immediate help next season because of a torn right Achilles tendon he suffered in January.

Kristaps Porzingis Accused Of Rape, Issues Denial

7:32pm: Porzingis is denying the accusations through his attorney, Roland G. Riopelle, tweets Marc Berman of The New York Post. “We made a formal referral to federal law enforcement based on the accuser’s extortionate demands,” Riopelle said.

7:11pm: New York police have received what they consider to be a credible rape accusation against former Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis, according to Tina Moore of The New York Post.

The incident reportedly happened on February 7, 2018, hours after Porzingis suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. An unidentified woman who lived in the same building alleges that Porzingis visited her around 2 a.m. and invited her to come to his apartment. She claims that when she got there, he held her down and raped her. The case is being investigated by the NYPD’s Special Victims Division.

The woman said she waited more than a year to come forward because Porzingis promised to pay $68K to cover her brother’s college tuition if she agreed to keep quiet. She said he eventually reneged on that agreement, and police aren’t sure if she ever received any money.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who traded for Porzingis in late January, confirmed that police informed him about the accusation.

“We have been instructed by federal authorities not to comment,” Cuban wrote in an email. Representatives for Porzingis also declined comment, saying they have not seen the police report. Contacted about the case, a Knicks spokesman replied, “This is Kristaps’ personal matter and not related to the Knicks.”

Beyond any legal repercussions Porzingis might face, he could also be subject to a league suspension if he is convicted of a crime.

Knicks Offered Porzingis To Kings For Fox

With Luka Doncic on the draft board, the Kings received several offers for De’Aaron Fox last June, including one from the Knicks that included Kristaps Porzingis, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN. Sources tell Lowe that New York was asking for additional assets along with Fox or would have required Sacramento to take on some unwanted salary.

That trade and others never materialized because the Kings didn’t want to move down and risk losing Marvin Bagley III. They also weren’t interested in taking Doncic because they didn’t want to interfere with Fox’s development as a playmaker.

“I like Luka,” GM Vlade Divac said, “but we didn’t want to overload with players who — maybe they don’t have the exact same characteristics, but if you want to develop the guys you have, you have to make sure they have room to develop.”

Fox has rewarded their confidence, posting a 17.4/3.8/7.2 line in his second NBA season and putting himself in the running for Most Improved Player. He also sparked a turnaround for the Kings that had them in contention for their first playoff berth in more than a decade before tailing off.

Sacramento’s front office will face some important decisions soon about how to build for the future, Lowe notes. Fox, Bagley and Harry Giles are all in their early 20s. Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes, who was acquired from the Mavericks last month, are all 26 with free agency looming next summer. Willie Cauley-Stein will be a restricted free agent in July, and Lowe suggests that his defensive shortcomings should make the Kings pass on matching any offer that exceeds the mid-level exception of about $9MM.

Divac isn’t concerned about the gap in the timeline or the danger of losing any key pieces in free agency.

“I would be if Foxy, Harry and Marvin weren’t better than people think,” he said. “They will be ready earlier. And if they are not, they are still the core. We will surround them with players who will help them get to the next level.”