LaMarcus Aldridge

Southeast Notes: Beal, Wizards, Heat, Hawks, Magic

Following a tough loss to the Bulls on Wednesday night, Wizards star Bradley Beal voiced concern about his team’s culture, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays. After telling reporters that he was frustrated about losing “winnable games,” Beal was asked if that losing builds up.

“I would hope it does,” Beal said. “I don’t like losing so it’s going to keep blowing up for me… Until we start winning and changing our culture.” Asked what a changed culture would like, the Wizards guard replied: Winning games. Get that winning attitude and winning habits.”

As Hughes notes in a separate article, the timing of Beal’s comments is interesting, since the 26-year-old signed an extension in the offseason despite recognizing it would be a challenging season for the Wizards. The team has been fun to watch and certainly hasn’t fallen short of preseason expectations, so Beal’s comments are a little surprising.

Pointing out that Beal recently co-signed a J.J. Redick complaint about some NBA players prioritizing fashion and social media over winning, Hughes wonders if that was just coincidental timing or if the Wizards’ star is frustrated by some of his teammates’ behavior.

David Aldridge of The Athletic, who heard from a source that Beal seemed as angry and emotional after Wednesday’s loss as he’s been since joining the Wizards, noted that Washington’s defense has been “spectacularly bad” this season and speculated that the team’s effort on that end of the floor may be a source of frustration for the All-Star.

As we wait to see how Washington responds to Beal’s concerns, here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald suggests that preserving 2021 cap room isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker for the Heat if they find a trade they like, since the team believes it can acquire star free agents even without cap space, as it did last summer with Jimmy Butler.
  • Within the same article, Jackson also explores several trade options for the Heat, citing one source who says the team will likely be in touch with San Antonio. The Spurs haven’t given any indication they want to move LaMarcus Aldridge or DeMar DeRozan, but would consider Miami a potential trade partner if they do consider dealing either veteran star, says Jackson.
  • Count Trae Young among those who like the Hawkstrade for Jeff Teague. According to Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Young referred to Teague as “one of the underrated point guards in our league” and praised the veteran’s ability to score, draw fouls, and get teammates involved.
  • With Michael Carter-Williams still battling a shoulder injury and fellow point guard D.J. Augustin out for at least the next three or four weeks with a knee issue, Magic head coach Steve Clifford said he’d speak to president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman about whether or not the team will make a roster move, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Orlando has a full 15-man roster, but Gary Clark is on a 10-day contract.

Southwest Notes: McLemore, Aldridge, Porzingis, DeRozan

Former lottery pick Ben McLemore has revitalized his career with the RocketsESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote an excellent profile piece examining the reemergence of McLemore in Houston.

On his third team in three years, McLemore seized his opportunity with the Rockets when injuries befell Eric Gordon and Gerald Green. McLemore has transformed himself into an effective catch-and-shoot option in Houston. For nine games starting on November 30th, McLemore averaged 14 PPG while shooting 39-of-85 from long range.

The first season of McLemore’s two-year, $4.4MM contract with the Rockets became fully guaranteed on January 10th. “I love Ben,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni told Lowe. “All he was lacking was confidence and an opportunity.” The rangy, athletic McLemore is averaging 10.1 PPG, 2.5 RPG, and 1.0 APG for the 26-12 Rockets. He is shooting 36.5% from long range on 6.7 attempts and 80% from the free-throw line.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • The trade market stock of 34-year-old Spurs center LaMarcus Aldridge is rising, writes San Antonio Express-News reporter Mike Finger. Finger postulates that Aldridge would have net more interest as a trade piece than fellow 30+ former All-Star big man, Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love, who has been very, very vocal about being unhappy in Cleveland. Aldridge has emerged as a moderate three-point shooting threat for the first time in his career, knocking down 45.5% of his 2.5 attempts per game, both career highs.
  • Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis was given a platelet-rich-plasma injection to treat the soreness in his right knee that has kept him in street clothes for two weeks, according to ESPN’s Tim McMahon. Porzingis is also grappling with an illness that has slowed his recovery process.
  • Polarizing, old-fashioned Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan returns to the team for whom he made four All-Star appearances today, the Raptors, as Josh Lewenberg of TSN reports. His former teammate, current Raptors All-Star Kyle Lowry, reflected on his contributions to Toronto basketball. “I think he poured his heart into the city,” Lowry said. “He gave the city and lot and the city [saw] him grow from a boy to being a man.”

Aldridge’s 2020/21 Salary Guarantee Becomes Official Today

New Year’s Day 2020 has special meaning for Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge. His $24MM contract for next season becomes fully guaranteed if he remains on the team’s roster through 5 PM EST, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.

Aldridge’s salary guarantee was originally scheduled for June 29, 2020 but the two parties agreed to move up the date to January 1 in October.

Aldridge isn’t going to be waived. The club pledged to agent Jeff Schwartz during training camp that they would fully guarantee his client’s 2020/21 salary. However, that guarantee doesn’t become official until Wednesday afternoon.

Aldridge’s salary for next season had previously only been partially guaranteed for $7MM, per Basketball Insiders’ contract data.  Aldridge, who is making $26MM this season, remains on track to reach unrestricted free agency in 2021.

The Spurs will remain significantly below the projected cap for 2020/21 even with Aldridge’s salary added but that comes with a major asterisk. They’ll move over the cap in salary guarantees if DeMar DeRozan opts into his $27.7MM contract for next season.

Aldridge, 34, is having another solid season for San Antonio. He’s averaging 19.4 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.5 APG and 1.9 BPG in 30 games this season while playing 33.0 MPG. He posted 21.3/9.2/2.4/1.3 in the same categories last season.

And-Ones: Scola, Aldridge, 2020 Draft, Delgado

Luis Scola, who continues to play overseas with Italy’s Olimpia Milano, hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2016/17 season and the 39-year-old sounds pretty confident that a comeback isn’t happening. As he explains to Marc Stein of The New York Times, even the younger version of himself would have a hard time keeping up in today’s version of the NBA, with its faster pace and lack of low-post play.

“The good teams, they have better players. The bad teams, they have younger players. I just don’t think I am at that level anymore,” Scola said. “I was there at some point. But the game changed also. It would be more difficult for me to play, even at my prime, in today’s NBA.”

“I got a little bit lucky,” he continued. “The big change happened right at the end of my career, and I was able to play until I was 37. The low-post game is not there anymore. The long two are not there. I would adjust a little bit and be a different player, but I think this would be a little bit more difficult. The game is faster. The players move faster. They’re more athletic, longer. And I’m not a very good athlete. Those things would be against me in today’s NBA.”

While Scola recognizes a return to the NBA isn’t in the cards, he’s pleased about Argentina’s performance at this year’s World Cup, which secured the team a spot in the 2020 Olympics. Participating in those Olympics had been a major goal for Scola, which is one reason he has pushed to continue his professional career, as he tells Stein.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Frank Urbina and Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype spoke to NBA executives to try to gauge what LaMarcus Aldridge‘s trade value might be if the Spurs decide to become sellers. Various execs identified the Trail Blazers, Nuggets, Suns, and Kings as possible fits.
  • The general feeling among NBA teams about the top of the 2020 draft class remains “lukewarm,” according to Jeremy Woo of SI.com, who explores how LaMelo’s stellar NBL play is becoming harder to ignore as teams consider next spring’s top prospects.
  • Former Seton Hall standout and Clippers two-way player Angel Delgado has signed Israeli team Hapoel Holon, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Delgado, who appeared in two games for the Clips last season, spent time with the Beijing Royal Fighters earlier this year before being replaced by former NBA big man Jason Thompson.
  • Mike Conley is looking for the same kind of experience with the Jazz that his longtime Grizzlies teammate Marc Gasol had last season in Toronto, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Conley said he called Gasol on FaceTime shortly after the Raptors won the 2019 title. “Man, I watched every game and was rooting and hoping and praying,” Conley said. “… We were talking about that thing all our career, having an experience like that for himself is, just happy for him.”

Heat Notes: Winslow, DeRozan, Leonard

Justise Winslow made his return to the lineup on Wednesday, playing 34 minutes in his first game back from a concussion. After the game, coach Erik Spoelstra said that the plan moving forward is not to have the Duke product play that much.

“I had no intention of playing him that much. K-Nunn got hit in the chest. He couldn’t play. Duncan got five fouls. So thank goodness we had Justise for those minutes,” Spo said (via Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald.

The team was also without Jimmy Butler, who missed the contest because he was not feeling well. Butler is expected to be back in action on Friday, so that will also cut into Winslow’s playing time.

Here’s more from Miami.

Celtics Not Expected To Trade Grizzlies’ Pick For Big Man Help

The Celtics‘ 11-2 start has catapulted them into contender status in the Eastern Conference with Kemba Walker‘s arrival rejuvenating the club. Boston still has a weakness in its interior, having rotated through starting big men, and the club has a major trade chip that could help land a major piece to man the center position, as Sean Deveney of Heavy.com writes.

As a result of the 2015 Jeff Green trade, the Celtics own a future Grizzlies first-round pick. The protections on the pick have kept it from conveying over the past couple years and it’s only top-six protected for the 2020 draft before potentially becoming unprotected in 2021.

However, some around the league don’t see the Celtics using this pick to acquire a bigger piece unless it’s for the right player.

“It’s a high-value pick no matter what happens, it is a lottery pick,” one rival GM tells Deveney “They’d be willing to trade the other pick they have (from the Bucks), but it wouldn’t make sense to move the Memphis pick. If it’s Anthony Davis then, OK, you change your plans. But there’s not really anyone on the market who is going to get them to move that.”

Deveney mentions Myles Turner among the candidates that Boston could be interested in, but hears that the Pacers are unlikely to trade the big man to an Eastern Conference rival — or at all. Deveney also names LaMarcus Aldridge as a possibility but that would likely require the Celtics to send Gordon Hayward to San Antonio, which is something Boston is reluctant to do.

Boston also owns Milwaukee’s 2020 selection, which figures to be among the last five picks or so in the first round. Packaging that pick along with salary to acquire a center seems much more likely.

Hollinger’s Latest: Aldridge, Murray, Prince

Former Grizzlies executive John Hollinger is now working for The Athletic, where he’ll have the opportunity to pass along under-the-radar cap- and contract-related notes from around the league. He did just that in a “Cap Geekery” column today, so let’s round up a few of the highlights…

  • Marc Stein of The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the Spurs have guaranteed LaMarcus Aldridge‘s full $24MM salary for the 2020/21 season, but Hollinger says the team has actually just moved up his guarantee date to January 1, 2020. Assuming Hollinger’s info is accurate, that means Aldridge’s ’20/21 salary won’t officially become guaranteed for a couple more months, which should effectively have the same result — it’s not as if San Antonio will release him before then.
  • According to Hollinger, Dejounte Murray‘s new extension with the Spurs includes three separate annual incentives worth a total of $1.5MM. Murray can earn those three bonuses if he posts a true shooting percentage of 58 or higher ($500K), makes at least 125 three-pointers in a season ($500K), and makes an All-Defense team ($500K). Those first two incentives would require him to become a significantly more effective shooter, but the All-Defense bonus may be more realistic — he has already made the team once.
  • Taurean Prince can earn a $334,375 annual bonus on his new contract with the Nets if the team posts a defensive rating of 105 or better in his minutes, per Hollinger. Prince can also receive another $334,375 annually if he attempts at least 7.6 three-pointers per 36 minutes and makes at least 41.5% of those tries, Hollinger adds. Prince’s extension reportedly maxes out at $29MM over two years.

Spurs To Guarantee LaMarcus Aldridge’s 2020/21 Salary

[UPDATE: Aldridge’s 2020/21 salary will actually become fully guaranteed on January 1, 2020, per John Hollinger of The Athletic.]

The Spurs have fully guaranteed LaMarcus Aldridge‘s $24MM salary for the 2020/21 season, agent Jeff Schwartz tells Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

Aldridge’s salary for next season had previously only been partially guaranteed for $7MM, per Basketball Insiders’ contract data. That essentially meant he was on an expiring contract in 2019/20, but that will no longer be the case, as San Antonio has now given him some additional security. Aldridge remains on track to reach unrestricted free agency in 2021, when his current contract is up.

Aldridge, 34, is entering his 14th NBA season, but hasn’t shown real signs of slowing down yet. In 2018/19, he averaged 21.3 PPG and 9.2 RPG with a .519 FG% in 81 games for San Antonio. All those numbers were above his career rates, as he earned his seventh All-Star nod.

Having extended Dejounte Murray earlier this week and now locked in another $17MM in guaranteed money for Aldridge, the Spurs are increasingly unlikely to have much cap flexibility during the 2020 offseason, though that will hinge in part on what happens with DeMar DeRozan. The team has discussed an extension with DeRozan, but the two sides are reportedly not close.

Blazers Notes: Hood, Kanter, McCollum, Aldridge

Shooting guard Rodney Hood surprised the Trail Blazers by accepting the $5.72MM taxpayer mid-level exception, Jason Quick of The Athletic reports.

Portland was hoping to bring back center Enes Kanter at that number, but he balked. Blazers GM Neil Olshey thought Hood wanted more in free agency but was pleasantly surprised by Hood’s decision.

Olshey then shifted gears to finding a starting-quality center and got involved in the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade to Miami, winding up with Hassan Whiteside by dealing Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard.

We have more on the Blazers:

  • Backcourt partners CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard are now locked up long-term after McCollum signed a three-year, $100MM extension and they’re excited about that prospect, as he told Quick in a separate story. “It’s a special time,” McCollum said. “(Lillard and I) talked about being in Portland, making a staple here and winning a championship here, and all those things. We’ve crossed off a lot of goals individually and collectively, but I think that both of us being here for the long haul, and both of us being able to grow together and win together is something that people will remember for a long time.”
  • Pau Gasol, who recently signed with the Blazers, said former Spurs teammate LaMarcus Aldridge has spoken highly of Portland and may want to play there again, Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report tweets. Aldridge said last season he and Lillard had spoken about the prospect of becoming teammates again. Aldridge’s $24MM contract for the 2020/21 season is not guaranteed, so it’s conceivable that could occur as soon as next summer.
  • If you missed the details on McCollum’s extension, you can find it all here.

More Names Revealed For Team USA World Cup Tryouts

Team USA’s training camp roster for the FIBA World Cup will be announced next week, but four players have already been confirmed, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Anthony Davis, James Harden, Donovan Mitchell and Kemba Walker will definitely be part of the team, while the other 14 slots are still being worked out. The roster will be trimmed to 12 when the players gather in Las Vegas in early August to prepare for the tournament, which takes place from August 31 to September 15 in China.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski drops a few more names in a full story on the World Cup tryouts, which sources tell him are also expected to include Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Bradley Beal and Kevin Love. Others planning to be part of the camp include Eric Gordon, Jayson Tatum, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, LaMarcus Aldridge, Andre Drummond and Kyle Kuzma.

P.J. Tucker will attend training camp as well, tweets ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, and league sources tell Woj that Paul Millsap also plans to be there. Other names leaked for the camp are Tobias Harris (Twitter link from Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer) and Myles Turner (Twitter link from Scott Agness of the Athletic).

Zion Williamson, expected to be the first pick in the draft later this month, has been invited to camp as part of the 10-man select team that will scrimmage against the 18-man roster, Stein tweets. Williamson will be given a chance to play his way onto the final roster if he has a standout performance in that role, according to USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo (Twitter link).

The select team will also include John Collins and Marvin Bagley, tweets Tim Bomtemps of ESPN.

The camp will be held from August 5-8, with exhibition games to follow before the start of World Cup play. Gregg Popovich will serve as head coach.