Kyle Korver

Jrue Holiday Wins Teammate Of The Year Award

Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday has been named the winner of the NBA’s 2019/20 Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award, the league announced today in a press release.

The award, which was voted on by more than 250 NBA players, recognizes the player deemed to be the best teammate based on “selfless play, on- and off-court leadership as a mentor and role model to other NBA players, and commitment and dedication to team.” Mike Conley, Jamal Crawford, Dirk Nowitzki, and Vince Carter have each won the award during the past few years.

One of 12 players nominated by a panel of league executives for this year’s award, Holiday was the leading vote-getter among those dozen players, receiving 53 of 267 possible first-place votes. He beat out runners-up Tobias Harris and Kyle Korver for the honor. The full voting results can be found right here.

Holiday averaged 19.1 PPG, 6.7 APG, 4.8 RPG, and 1.6 SPG with a .455/.353/.709 shooting line in 61 games (34.7 MPG) for the Pelicans in 2019/20. He announced in July that he would be putting his game checks from the summer restart toward the Jrue and Lauren Social Justice Impact Fund, a fund dedicated to helping communities in New Orleans, Indianapolis, and the Los Angeles area.

New Orleans’ front office will face a decision on Holiday’s future within the next year or so. He holds a player option for the 2021/22 season, meaning he may be entering a contract year in ’20/21. The Pelicans will have to determine whether it makes sense to consider trading the veteran guard in advance of his free agency or whether they’re committed to trying to keep him long-term.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucks Notes: Giannis, Budenholzer, Offseason, Korver

Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo badly wanted to play in Game 5 on Tuesday night despite his right ankle sprain, expressing a willingness to play on one leg. However, as Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, the Bucks prioritized Antetokounmpo’s health over any potential short-term gain, and the reigning MVP appreciates the decision to protect him.

“We have people in the team sometimes that have a bigger say than you and they have to protect you,” Antetokounmpo said. “They have to protect your health no matter what and it’s good. There’s a lot of cases, previous cases in the past that put the team over the player’s health and I love my organization for that, I appreciate that they protected me.

“… I wanted to play. Everybody – you know I wanted to play, I know I wanted to play, my coach knows I wanted to play, but at the end of the day, our organization put my health over Game 5 and that’s big for me.”

With the Bucks’ season now over, all eyes will be on Antetokounmpo’s future. As we detailed late on Tuesday night, Giannis has already said he won’t ask to be traded, but we still don’t know whether or not he’ll sign a super-max extension when the club offers it this fall.

Passing on that extension would result in all sorts of Giannis-related trade speculation, writes Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. However, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) outlines, it’s possible Antetokounmpo may prefer to wait on finalizing an extension even if he wants to remain with the Bucks. The same deal – a five-year max with the Bucks worth 35% of the cap and beginning in 2021/22 – would be available for Giannis during the 2021 offseason.

For now, teams are projecting no salary cap increase for the next couple years, per Marks. But by the ’21 offseason, Antetokounmpo and the Bucks would have a better idea of the cap outlook going forward. It’s possible at that time that the Defensive Player of the Year would want to sign a shorter-term contract to maintain flexibility and to potentially capitalize on a cap increase down the road by waiting to lock in a longer-term contract.

Here’s more on Giannis and the Bucks:

  • Michael Scotto of HoopsHype spoke to a pair of GMs, two team executives, and a scout about the Bucks’ outlook, including Giannis’ future, Mike Budenholzer‘s status, and the rest of the club’s roster. The consensus among Scotto’s sources is that it’s hard to read too much into bubble results and that Milwaukee shouldn’t be in a rush to make major changes. “I think they’re good enough to win,” an Eastern Conference GM said. “We definitely overreact to certain things. They’re a contending championship team. It’s like OKC back in the day. Play it out. If Giannis leaves, he leaves. His brother is on the team, for crying out loud.”
  • Another Eastern Conference executive who spoke to Scotto offered the following assessment: “If it were my decision, I think you run it back next year with the same squad. I think over the summer, Giannis will learn to extend past the 3-point line consistently. Then, if things aren’t looking good at the deadline next year, you see what you can get for (Khris) Middleton, (Eric) Bledsoe, (Donte) DiVincenzo.”
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic isn’t convinced that Budenholzer’s coaching style is destined to fail in the postseason. Hollinger concedes that the Bucks head coach made some mistakes against Miami, but contends that a bad matchup and some bad luck largely contributed to the club’s early playoff exit.
  • Veteran sharpshooter Kyle Korver, whose contract with the Bucks is expiring, told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link) that he’ll talk to his family before making a decision on his NBA future. His teammate Marvin Williams announced on Tuesday night that he has decided to retire, but it’s not clear if the 39-year-old Korver will follow suit.

Restart Notes: Howard, Lillard, Ranadive, Korver

In a statement sent to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, Lakers center Dwight Howard said that the players’ coalition expressing concerns with the NBA’s Orlando restart plan isn’t looking to derail the resumption of the season.

“Our main objective is to raise awareness and gain transparency on the things that concern us collectively,” Howard said. “Many of our fellow players are afraid to voice their concerns and are continuing to follow along with what they believe they have to.

“… In a time like this where we are fighting for equal rights, it would be contradictory if we told our own players to not play and do as we say,” Howard continued. “We are not here to dictate, nor do we have the power to do so. We want to make sure communication is taking place openly without fear. … If any one of us chooses to sit, it has nothing to do with another player’s right to play. Not once has any of us told one of our fellow brethren not to go to the Orlando Bubble Experiment and we stressed that in our meetings.”

A report earlier this week indicated that Kyrie Irving, who has been one of the leaders of the coalition voicing concerns about the NBA’s restart, has encouraged his Nets teammates not to go to Orlando. Howard’s statement suggests that’s not the case. The veteran big man added that he and other members of the players’ coalition are “in full support of our brothers whether we decide to enter or not enter the Orlando bubble.”

Here’s more on the NBA’s resumption:

  • Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard said earlier this week that Irving and Howard “have a point” and that he doesn’t feel “100 percent comfortable” about resuming the season this summer, but that he’s willing to take the risk because of the impact that players’ salvaged salaries can have on their communities. “I can only speak for myself — but I think it goes for other guys as well — we are the financial support for our families and for a lot of our community,” Lillard said, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “We bring a lot of that financial responsibility to support black businesses in black communities. So it makes a lot of sense for us (to return), from that standpoint.”
  • Even as the positive test rate and total number of COVID-19 cases in Florida continue to increase, Kings owner Vivek Ranadive said this week during a CNBC appearance that he’s confident in the NBA’s return-to-play plan, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee writes. “Statistically, it’s actually going to be safer to be in a bubble in Orlando than to stay home and go to a grocery store, so this has been very well thought through and I feel very confident that we will be in Orlando in a few weeks,” Ranadive said.
  • Bucks forward Kyle Korver said this week during a conversation with Richard Jefferson (video link) that he’d be willing to sit out the restart if his black teammates and friends felt it was the best way to bring about change, as Joe Coles of The Deseret News details.
  • The NBPA issued a press release on Wednesday that discussed a series of social-justice issues and initiatives and noted that the union is considering ideas for how players “can effectively continue their advocacy on the national stage occasioned by the games” in Orlando this summer.

Giannis Played Role In Recruiting Matthews, Korver

Entering the 2019 offseason, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo hadn’t gotten involved much in free agent recruitment, preferring to leave roster moves up to the front office. However, when he found out that Milwaukee was signing-and-trading Malcolm Brogdon to Indiana last summer, he felt as if it was time for him to get involved, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic.

“I don’t like doing that stuff,” Antetokounmpo said. “I don’t get an extra paycheck for doing (GM) Jon (Horst)’s job or Coach (Mike Budenholzer)’s job or whoever’s job it is. … If you asked me one year ago, two years ago, I’d say, ‘Coach, just take care of it.’ … (But) it comes to a point that I’m like, ‘OK. Malcolm’s about to leave.’ And at the time, Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver were the guys I felt like could help us win.”

Antetokounmpo, who is represented by the same agency as Matthews (Octagon), reached out to the veteran swingman first, pitching him on the idea of competing for a championship in Milwaukee. Matthews had received interest from other teams, but the call from the reigning MVP helped convince him to join the Bucks, as Nehm details.

“It meant a lot,” Matthews said. “Not even just as an athlete, but just as anyone who is working, the admiration of your peers is what holds the most weight. Not writers, not blogs, not media and all that kind of stuff. It’s the guys you’re going to compete with and against to have the respect for you that means the world.”

Meanwhile, Antetokounmpo touched base with Korver at a training facility in Santa Barbara. The 38-year-old sharpshooter invited Giannis to work out with him at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where the Bucks’ star made another recruitment pitch.

“We start the workout and I’m like, ‘OK. Kyle, look, this is how I can get you open shots,'” Antetokounmpo said. “‘We can run this. We can do this. I know Al Horford is your best friend. I know you’d love playing with Al Horford in Philly, but look, I can (get you shots). I can find you easier.’ He loved it.”

Both Matthews and Korver ultimately signed with the Bucks and they’ve been great fits so far. Matthews has been a regular starter in Milwaukee, averaging 7.5 PPG with a .370 3PT% in 58 games (24.6 MPG), while Korver has recorded 6.4 PPG with a .407 3PT% off the bench in 47 contests (16.6 MPG). They’ve helped push the Bucks to an NBA-best 52-9 record this season and Giannis is thrilled to have them both aboard, as Nehm writes.

“I love my teammates. … I’d die for them,” Antetokounmpo said. “That’s who I am and I hope they know that and I think they know that. This is the group that I want to (win a championship) with, and hopefully, we can get it done.”

Western Notes: Russell, D. Green, Korver, Zion

Winter weather played a factor in D’Angelo Russell‘s decision to choose the Warriors over the Timberwolves in free agency this summer, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune.

The Timberwolves initially appeared to have the upper hand, led by Karl-Anthony Towns, one of Russell’s best friends, and Pablo Prigioni, one of his favorite assistant coaches with the Nets. However, the Warriors swooped in on June 30 with a maximum-salary offer as part of a sign-and-trade involving Kevin Durant.

“I thought the opportunity here was amazing … ” Russell said of the Timberwolves on Friday. “But then when this (Warriors) opportunity came, the weather is way better, so that helped me. … I did my first winter in New York and that was tough. So to get the opportunity to go somewhere where it’s warm again, I think that played a major part in my plan.”

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • The Warriors are still months away from getting Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson back, but it appears Draymond Green is ready to return to the lineup. Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets that Green is “trending toward” returning on Monday vs. Utah after missing five games due to a torn ligament and small bone chip in his left index finger.
  • It was an eventful offseason for veteran sharpshooter Kyle Korver, who was traded from the Jazz to the Grizzlies to the Suns, then was released by Phoenix before signing with Milwaukee. As Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune writes, Korver admitted he was surprised by the initial trade out of Utah. “Yeah, definitely caught me off-guard. Like I said, I’ve been traded a few times before — very rarely do you see it coming,” Korver said. “You know, the NBA is a beautiful job for a lot of reasons; living stability is not one of them.”
  • Pelicans fans anxiously awaiting Zion Williamson‘s debut will almost certainly have to wait until at least December, as head coach Alvin Gentry recently confirmed that a November return date would be “ambitious” (Twitter link via Andrew Lopez of ESPN). Williamson, who is recovering from meniscus surgery, said last week that his knee is “getting stronger day by day” and is confident he’ll still have plenty of opportunities to contribute over the course of the 82-game season, writes Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com.

Alex Kirschenbaum contributed to this post.

Central Notes: Bitadze, Garland, Casey, Korver, LaVine

Pacers’ first-round pick Goga Bitadze will make his preseason debut on Tuesday, Mark Monteith of the team’s website relays. The Euro big man missed the first three preseason games with an ankle injury. He’s slated as the main backup at center with Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis projected as starters. “That’s kind of where we’ve got him at,” coach Nate McMillan said. “We’ll see as we get into the season what the rotation is going to look like.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers rookie Darius Garland could wind up in the starting lineup with Collin Sexton in a dual point guard backcourt, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. Garland has come off the bench thus far in the preseason but that could change with coach John Beilein continuing to tinker with various lineups. “If he’s able to practice enough and earn it, I have no qualms about that at all,” Beilein said. “But there’s a certain process you have to go through to be that starting point guard and whatever it’s going to take. We will get him in when we think it’s best for the team to win.”
  • Pistons coach Dwane Casey wants to see his team take 40% of its shots from beyond the arc, Keith Langlois of the team’s website relays. Like many teams, Detroit attempted a franchise record number of 3-pointers last season and Casey wants to continue that trend. Their backup bigs, including Markieff Morris, will help the Pistons achieve that goal. “We want to stay around 40,” Casey said. “We want to continue to get up more corner threes as much as possible. Our slot threes were up, but we were getting a fair amount of corner threes. We’ve got to continue to do that and put pressure on the basket.”
  • The Bucks added veteran guard Kyle Korver as another perimeter option but coach Mike Budenholzer sees Korver providing assistance in other areas, according to Ben Steele of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Korver signed a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal in July. “All the little things he does,” Budenholzer said. “Competing and screening. Getting hits on the defensive boards. I think we’re really excited about how he is going to make us better this year.”
  • Zach LaVine is eager to shed his reputation as a subpar defender, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times relays. LaVine has been challenged to become a better two-way player by Bulls coach Jim Boylen‘‘I’m just tired of people talking [poorly] about my defense,’’ LaVine said. ‘‘I’ve always been a good on-ball defender. But there’s no reason I can be this good offensively and not be that good on the defensive end. So I’m taking more pride in it. I’m pretty sure it’ll show.”

Central Notes: Giannis, Kennard, Henson, Hutchison

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, last season’s MVP and one of the best basketball players in the world, still needs to improve his shooting ability after making an abysmal 30.2% of his jump shots last season. And as Eric Woodyard of ESPN writes, The Greek Freak is looking at new teammate Kyle Korver for some guidance.

“It’s really important [that] I always try to talk to him a little bit,” Antetokounmpo said of Korver. “And he’s a great guy. He’s not trying to get in your head or overstep and talk too much to you. Whenever he gives me tips, I always try to listen … one of the best shooters to ever play the game.”

Head coach Mike Budenholzer, who coached Korver in Atlanta, also thinks that Korver is going to be a huge addition to the Bucks’ roster.

“His professionalism, his work ethic and attention to detail is just gonna help all of us, including me as a coach. I always say that about Kyle: He makes me a better coach. Adding him to our group was a huge add this summer.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press advocates for Pistons guard Luke Kennard to be moved to a bench role this season. Head coach Dwane Casey seems to agree: “(Kennard) doesn’t fit well with the first unit, but he is one of our most talented players and so the job we have as a coaching staff is to fit him where he’s going to go.”
  • Coming off an injury-riddled 2018/19 season that saw him traded from Milwaukee to the Cavaliers, big man John Henson is ready to add an element of rim protection to help the Cavs’ defense improve this season. He’s also ready for whatever role the team has in store for him, admitting that he doesn’t yet know exactly where he fits in the rotation, writes Chris Fedor of cleveland.com. Henson is entering the final year of his contract.
  • Bulls head coach Jim Boylen says forward Chandler Hutchison will not return in the next two weeks and that opening night is in jeopardy, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Hutchison is still recovering from a hamstring strain he suffered in September.

Central Notes: Rose, Beilein, Giannis, Brogdon

Guard Derrick Rose signed with the Pistons because he feels the team can contend, Vince Ellis of the Free Press writes. Rose inked a two-year, $15MM deal with Detroit in free agency to lead its second unit. “I’ve had all the accolades in the past. I’m past that. Now I want to win,” he said. “The only thing on my résumé I’m missing is a championship and being here, seeing what happened last year with the Raptors in (the) East, you never know what can happen.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers are amazed by new coach John Beilein’s work ethic and the 66-year-old’s energy level, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “He has more energy than I do,” forward Larry Nance Jr. said. “He’s always going, always has something on his mind, always something he’s ready to talk about, teach and coach. It’s really exciting to see because as a player that’s what you want. You want somebody that is so eager to get started that they can’t even slow down.
  • The Bucks bet on continuity in their efforts to convince Giannis Antetokounmpo to sign a super-max extension next summer, Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes. They managed to re-sign Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and George Hill in free agency and only lost one starter, Malcolm Brogdon. “We brought back a big part of the group; we believe in continuity,” GM Jon Horst said. “We think that gives us an advantage to have continuity. … This group looks like they’re growing, looks like they’re getting better, looks like they fit and they make sense and that we can compete and sustain success for a long period of time with this group and that’s been the goal.”
  • Despite Brogdon’s departure, the Bucks have plenty of options at shooting guard and small forward, Ben Steele of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out. “I think the vision going forward is with the addition of Wes Matthews and Kyle Korver as wings that have proven that they are elite-level shooters and great defenders,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Got young guys like Donte (DiVincenzo), Pat (Connaughton) and Sterling (Brown) that are all proven to some degree.” Hill, who signed a three-year, $29MM deal, is another option for Budenholzer.

Bucks Sign Kyle Korver To One-Year Deal

JULY 25: The Bucks have officially signed Korver, the team announced today in a press release.

JULY 20: Veteran shooting guard Kyle Korver is signing with the Bucks, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports.

Korver will get the veteran’s minimum of $2.6MM on the one-year deal but Milwaukee will only take a $1.6MM cap hit, as Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets.

Korver was waived by the Suns on July 8. He temporarily wound up with rebuilding Phoenix after being traded by the Jazz and Grizzlies this offseason. The Suns will receive a $559K set-off on the $3.44MM they owe Korver after placing him on waivers, Marks notes. Korver had a $7.5MM contract for next season but only the portion the Suns owe was guaranteed.

Korver averaged 8.6 PPG on .416/.397/.822 shooting in 70 games (19.1 MPG) last season for the Cavaliers and Jazz. A June report indicated that the 38-year-old – who is a career 42.9% three-point shooter – was expected to play for at least one more year.

Korver will add depth at the shooting guard spot behind Khris Middleton and Sterling Brown in Milwaukee, reuniting with head coach Mike Budenholzer, whom he played for in Atlanta.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sixers Notes: Tax Outlook, Harris, Redick, Korver

The Sixers are about to enter their final season for a while of not being a taxpaying team, Derek Bodner of The Athletic writes in detailed breakdown of all the contracts the organization issued since free agency began.

Philadelphia has been among the most active teams this offseason, adding free agents Al Horford, Kyle O’Quinn and Raul Neto, trading Jimmy Butler to the Heat for Josh Richardson, re-signing Tobias Harris, Mike Scott and James Ennis, extending Ben Simmons and giving a four-year contract to former two-way player Shake Milton. Even with all those additions, the Sixers are comfortably below the tax line.

That changes next year when Simmons’ maximum rookie extension kicks in. The Sixers will not only be a taxpayer going forward, but would need to unload significant salary to say below the apron and retain the ability to use their full mid-level exception. The same situation will exist for 2021/22 unless they lose Richardson, who has a player option for that season. Bodner doesn’t expect that to happen, stating that the team is likely to consider keeping Richardson more valuable than having the full MLE.

There’s more this morning from Philadelphia:

  • The Sixers‘ tax status for the upcoming season gave them the freedom to start Harris’ new five-year, $180MM deal with a higher first-year salary than they needed to, Bodner adds in the same story. Instead of beginning with a $31MM salary for 2019/20 and 8% raises the rest of the way, Harris will get a max salary of $32.742MM this year, followed by lower raises in years three and four when the organization will have tax concerns.
  • J.J. Redick, who signed as a free agent with the Pelicans, said on his latest podcast that he expected to retire in Philadelphia, tweets Will Guillory of The Athletic. However, he added, “Sometimes the economics of things don’t work out.” Redick, who spent the past two years with the Sixers, referred to New Orleans as “Duke south” and said he has known new GM Trajan Langdon since his freshman year at the university. He dealt mainly with Langdon in free agent talks, while his agent negotiated with executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin.
  • Kyle Korver strongly considered the Sixers before reaching an agreement with the Bucks yesterday, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Korver started his career in Philadelphia, but his relationship with Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer, whom he played for in Atlanta, swayed his final decision.