Lonzo Ball

Pelicans Notes: Marshall, Ball, Hayes, Offseason

Pelicans wing Naji Marshall has emerged as a bright spot as the team deals with injuries, Christian Clark of NOLA.com writes. Marshall has given New Orleans production in the absences of Josh Hart (thumb), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (ankle) and Lonzo Ball (hip), doing so on a two-way contract.

“He’s putting it on the floor and making plays,” head coach Stan Van Gundy said. “He’s taking advantage of his opportunity. I like that. He’s doing a good job there. And we’ll continue to see what he does the rest of the year.”

Marshall signed with New Orleans after going undrafted last year. The 23-year-old is averaging 5.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 16.9 minutes in 16 games this season, shooting 38% from the floor. He most recently added 16 points on Saturday against Washington and 14 points on Thursday against New York.

Here are some other notes out of New Orleans tonight:

Bulls Notes: Roster Turnover, LaVine, Markkanen, Ball

The Bulls were among the most active teams at the trade deadline, adding five new players to their roster, but so far the changes haven’t worked out the way they hoped, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports. Chicago has gone just 3-7 since then while playing a difficult schedule that featured nine road games and seven against playoff contenders.

“Every night we have one category I would say we don’t perform well,” said center Daniel Theis, who was one of the new additions. “One night it’s turnovers that cost us a game. (Sunday), we didn’t get to the line a lot. (Monday), we didn’t shoot the ball well from 3. Now we’ve got to put together a complete game. If we play defense like (Monday) and we make our shots, we’re gonna win games.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Before the Bulls hosted Orlando tonight, Magic coach Steve Clifford talked to his former center, Nikola Vucevic, about the adjustment to a new team, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. “He’s getting comfortable here (with Chicago),” Clifford said. “I think it’ll be a great place for him. He’s very upbeat, very excited about his teammates … loves (Bulls coach) Billy (Donovan).”
  • The decision to trade for Vucevic was a way for the Bulls’ front office to show Zach LaVine that they’re serious about winning, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of Bleacher Report. LaVine is widely expected to turn down an extension offer from Chicago in order to sign a more lucrative deal as a free agent, Blakely says.
  • The addition of Vucevic has cut into Lauri Markkanen‘s playing time and there’s reason to question whether he’ll return next season, Blakely adds. Vucevic and Markkanen both excel as scorers, but haven’t been effective as a defensive combo. “In the right kind of system, Markkanen could be a really good player,” an Eastern Conference executive told Blakely. “I don’t know if Chicago is it; it’s certainly not it if they think him and Vucevic can play together.” The Spurs may make a strong effort to sign Markkanen this summer, according to Blakely.
  • The Knicks are eyeing Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball in free agency and their main competition could come from the Bulls, sources tell Marc Berman of The New York Post. Chicago was involved in trade talks regarding Ball at last month’s deadline.

Dennis Schröder On Knicks’ Radar For Offseason

After being linked to a number of point guards leading up to the trade deadline, the Knicks ultimately didn’t address the position. However, they’re expected to revisit the point guard market in the offseason, and Lakers veteran Dennis Schröder is one player on their radar, writes Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

Schröder is in the final year of his current contract and has reportedly turned down a four-year extension offer worth $80MM+ from the Lakers. That’s a strong indication that he’ll be seeking at least $20MM per year in free agency.

As Begley observes, the Knicks should be able to open up in excess of $50MM in cap room this summer, though it remains to be seen how aggressive the team would be with Schröder. The team will be considering other point guard options as well, including Lonzo Ball of the Pelicans, according to both Begley and Marc Berman of The New York Post.

Unlike Ball, who will be a restricted free agent, Schröder will be unrestricted, meaning the Knicks wouldn’t have to worry about their offer being matched if they get a commitment. However, the Lakers will likely be very motivated to re-sign their starting point guard — even if Schröder walks, the Lakers will be over the cap next season, meaning they wouldn’t be able to easily add a comparable replacement.

After a career year in Oklahoma City in 2019/20 (18.9 PPG on .469/.385/.839 shooting), Schröder’s numbers this season are more in line with his career rates. He has averaged 15.3 PPG, 5.3 APG, and 3.5 RPG with a .432/.338/.848 shooting line in 50 games (31.7 MPG) for the Lakers.

Southwest Notes: Ball, Mavericks, Porter, Dieng

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball expressed his excitement to remain in New Orleans beyond the trade deadline and his enthusiasm for the club’s trajectory beyond this season, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

“I’m just comfortable here,” Ball said of the Pelicans. “I also love playing with [Zion Williamson] and [Brandon Ingram]. We have a lot of young guys. I think we can be good in the time coming.” The point guard, selected with the second pick in 2017, will be a restricted free agent this summer.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Mavericks center Willie Cauley-Stein and point guard Tyrell Terry remain indefinitely away from the club, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News tweets. Cauley-Stein is still in the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, while Terry has been absent due to personal reasons for the past two weeks. “We don’t have timetables,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’ll let you [reporters] know when we know something. Other than that, there’s not much we can talk about.”
  • After trading away shooting guard Victor Oladipo, the 13-34 Rockets have clearly embraced their rebuild. In a happy surprise, 20-year-old new acquisition Kevin Porter Jr.‘s development has proven to be a bright spot just four games into his Houston tenure, per Kelly Iko of The Athletic. “He’s done everything that we need him to do,” head coach Stephen Silas said. “We have a lot of trust in him. There’s going to be ups and downs and conversations to be had just like every other player, but my door is always open and there’s a support system that can help him be successful on and off the floor.”
  • Newly-signed Spurs center Gorgui Dieng sprained his shoulder during his San Antonio debut and will miss tonight’s contest against the Hawks, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets. Head coach Gregg Popovich speculated that, while there was fortunately no structural damage to the shoulder, the big man will miss at least a week, per Orsborn (Twitter link). “I am just going to make a guess, which is probably not wise, but it’s pretty much going to be on pain tolerance,” Popovich said. “I think it’s going to be another good week before he is able to use that.”

Southwest Notes: Ball, Pelicans, Bradley, Redick

Lonzo Ball has told the Pelicans’ front office that he wants to remain with the team, head of basketball operations David Griffin said after the trade deadline (Twitter link via Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Times-Picayune). Ball’s name was bandied about in trade rumors but New Orleans didn’t find a proposal to its liking before the deadline. The team will have to extend a $14.36MM qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent this summer.

We have more news from the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans still haven’t proven they’re true contenders, Kushner writes. The Pelicans, who are five games below .500, didn’t make a major move before the trade deadline. But they have shown little progress during the season despite the changes that were made this offseason and new coach Stan Van Gundy hasn’t been able to fix their defensive issues.
  • Avery Bradley could make his Rockets debut on Monday, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Bradley, who was acquired in the Victor Oladipo trade with Miami, has been dealing with a calf injury. He has only appeared in 10 games this season due to a variety of ailments.
  • J.J. Redick still isn’t ready to make his Mavericks debut, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. Dallas acquired the veteran perimeter shooter from New Orleans on Thursday. Redick is still rehabbing from a nonsurgical procedure on his right heel that has sidelined him since the All-Star break.

Southwest Notes: Ball, Thornwell, Rockets, Spurs

As of Wednesday, Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball seemed more likely than not to be traded this week. But Thursday’s deadline came and went without a Ball deal, and the former No. 2 overall pick is now on track to reach restricted free agency with New Orleans later this year.

In the view of Will Guillory of The Athletic, the Pelicans made the right move by hanging onto Ball, who has noticeably improved since joining the team two years ago and complements New Orleans’ star forwards (Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram) well. Guillory suggests there were “legitimate” offers on the table, with the Hawks, Knicks, and and Bulls among the teams in the mix, but the Pels ultimately opted to take their chances with the point guard in restricted free agency.

Ball’s free agency will provide its own set of challenges, particularly since the Pelicans also want to retain RFA-to-be Josh Hart and may have to move off Steven Adams‘ or Eric Bledsoe‘s contract to re-sign both Ball and Hart and avoid the tax. An aggressive offer sheet for Ball from a rival suitor could also force New Orleans into a tough decision. But Guillory believes there would be a trade market for Ball down the road even if his next contract is worth a little more than the Pelicans would like.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • After signing Sindarius Thornwell to a pair of 10-day contracts, the Pelicans had been considering a rest-of-season deal for the veteran guard. If that happens though, it’ll have to be a little later this spring. As Andrew Lopez of ESPN notes (via Twitter), New Orleans moved so close to the tax line following its deadline-day trade that a rest-of-season signing at this point would push team salary over that threshold.
  • Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle explains the thinking behind the Rockets‘ decision to trade Victor Oladipo to Miami for a relatively modest return. As Feigen details, Oladipo’s days in Houston were likely numbered if the Rockets had hung onto him through the deadline, and the team wanted to open up more minutes for Kevin Porter alongside John Wall, so the front office opted to take the best offer available for Oladipo on Thursday.
  • With several veterans on expiring contracts, the Spurs were in position to shake up their roster at the trade deadline. However, as is typically the case in San Antonio during the season, the team opted to stand relatively pat instead, making just one small financially motivated move, acquiring Marquese Chriss and cash from Golden State. Noting that the Chriss trade was the Spurs’ first deadline deal since 2014, Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News examines the club’s decision to once again remain quiet at the deadline.

Pelicans Trade Redick, Melli To Mavs; Lonzo Ball Stays Put

MARCH 26: The trade is now official, according to announcement from thes Mavericks (Twitter link) and Pelicans.


MARCH 25: The Pelicans won’t be trading point guard Lonzo Ball at today’s deadline, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). However, New Orleans has agreed to a deal that will send J.J. Redick to the Mavericks, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The Pelicans will receive James Johnson, Wesley Iwundu, and a 2021 second-round pick in exchange for Redick and Nicolo Melli, a source tells Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter links). New Orleans also received cash from the Mavericks in the deal, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Charania initially reported that the Redick deal would be a three-team trade that also sent Trey Lyles from the Spurs to Dallas, but has since clarified that it will just be a direct trade between the Pelicans and Mavs.

Redick, who was averaging 8.7 PPG in 31 appearances off the bench, had expressed a desire to be dealt to a team in the Northeast, where his family resides. He’ll have to wait until the offseason to make that happen but he’ll provide the Mavericks with another 3-point threat off the bench. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent.

Melli reportedly wanted out after seeing his playing time decline in his second NBA season. He’s only appeared in 22 games this season. He can be a restricted free agent if Dallas decides to extend a $4.87MM qualifying offer. The Mavs will keep Melli at least through the end of this season, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News tweets.

Johnson has an expiring $16MM contract. He’s averaging 5.7 PPG and 3.0 RPG in 29 games this season and gives the Pelicans another frontcourt option. Iwundu has seen action in 23 games this season but has only averaged 2.1 PPG in 12.5 MPG during those outings. He has another year left on his contract but his 2021/22 salary is just $1.82MM.

As for Ball, the Bulls, Knicks, Clippers, Nuggets and Sixers had all been linked to the former No. 2 pick to varying degrees in recent weeks, but New Orleans didn’t find a package attractive enough to deal its current floor leader.

The Pelicans will have to decide after the season whether to extend Ball a $14.36MM qualifying offer and make him a restricted free agent, or let him enter the market unrestricted. Assuming they extend that QO, as is expected, they’ll then have to weigh how aggressive they’re willing to be when it comes to a long-term contract offer.

Ball is averaging 14.2 PPG and 5.6 APG for the Pelicans, who are a disappointing five games below .500.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.

Magic Trade Nikola Vucevic To Bulls

4:37pm: The trade sending Vucevic to Chicago is official, according to a press release from the Magic.

“Anytime you trade a player like Nikola, it is a tough decision to make,” president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said in a statement. “‘Vooch’ will go down as one of the best players to ever wear a Magic uniform and we can’t thank him enough for all the contributions he made to the organization, both on and off the court.”


10:05am: The Magic are trading All-Star center Nikola Vucevic and veteran forward Al-Farouq Aminu to the Bulls, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (all Twitter links).

According to Wojnarowski, Orlando will receive Wendell Carter, Otto Porter, and a pair of future first-round picks in the deal. Those picks will be the Bulls’ own 2021 and 2023 first-rounders, Woj adds (via Twitter). Both will be top-four protected, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter links).

The agreement comes as a major surprise. While Vucevic has been mentioned in some trade rumors in the weeks leading up to the deadline, he had talked about being happy with his current situation, and there was a belief that the Magic were reluctant to move their lone All-Star and shift into full-fledged retooling mode. Wojnarowski (Twitter link) had reported earlier today that Orlando was still listening to offers for the big man, but would have to receive a substantial package to pull the trigger on a deal.

The Magic apparently believe the Bulls’ offer qualifies as substantial. In addition to the future first-round picks, which are the prized assets in the return, Orlando will also receive a former lottery pick in Carter who was highly regarded coming out of Duke and is still just 21 years old. Carter has been plagued by injury issues through his first three NBA seasons and his production hasn’t really increased since his rookie year, but he’s still viewed as a player with upside.

Orlando will also gain some longer-term salary relief in the trade. While Porter is earning more ($28.5MM) this season than any of the other three players involved in the swap, his contract will expire this summer. Vucevic is owed and Aminu are owed a combined $34MM+ next season, and Vucevic is under contract for one more year beyond that, so the Magic will have much more cap flexibility going forward.

The move also signals that Aaron Gordon is even more likely to be dealt today, with the Magic headed for a reset. The odds of the team moving Evan Fournier and/or Terrence Ross figure to increase as well. As Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports tweets, Orlando will boost the odds of landing a top pick in the 2021 draft by trading away veterans — that lottery pick, combined with the return of Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz next season, could help accelerate the team’s rebuild.

The Bulls, meanwhile, weren’t among the teams listed as having significant interest in Vucevic in a report earlier this month, but decided to take a big swing and will add a second All-Star to a core headlined by Zach LaVine.

The team’s front office wanted to bring in a “productive, serious-minded veteran” to be a cornerstone in Chicago, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), and zeroed in on Vucevic, who has posted a career-high 24.5 PPG this season to go along with 11.8 RPG and 3.8 APG. His .406 3PT% is also a career-best mark.

Taking on Aminu’s multiyear contract will add some money to the Bulls’ cap in 2021, but the club was projected to have plenty of flexibility, so that shouldn’t be an issue. Vucevic’s contract is also relatively team-friendly — he’s making $26MM this season, but that number will decline to $24MM in 2021/22 and $22MM in ’22/23.

It will be interesting to see whether the Bulls have more up their sleeve before today’s deadline. The team has been taking calls to gauge Thaddeus Young‘s value, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link), and remains in the mix for Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

It will take more than just Lauri Markkanen to acquire Ball, tweets Johnson. New Orleans may want Chicago to take on an unwanted multiyear contract, such as Eric Bledsoe‘s.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Rumors: Lowry, Knicks, Ball, Suns, Nuggets

Kyle Lowry‘s future is the focus around the NBA right now, Shams Charania said on Stadium’s live trade deadline show on Twitter.

According to Charania, the Raptors remain seriously engaged with the Heat and Lakers, having been offered packages headed by Duncan Robinson (Miami) or Dennis Schröder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (L.A.). Toronto is pushing for the inclusion of Tyler Herro or Talen Horton-Tucker in any deal with the Heat or Lakers, says Charania.

Charania adds that the Heat are believed to be Lowry’s preferred destination.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Knicks have remained engaged with the Pelicans today about a possible Lonzo Ball trade, per Ian Begley of SNY.tv. New York is also receiving inquiries on center Mitchell Robinson, according to Begley, though it’s not clear if the team is open at all to moving Robinson.
  • As of earlier this afternoon, the Suns weren’t close to making any deals, and all signs pointed to them standing pat at the deadline, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7.
  • The Nuggets are likely done dealing after agreeing to trades for Aaron Gordon and JaVale McGee, tweets Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

Trade Rumors: Lowry, Rondo, Ball, Markkanen, Young, Green

The clock is ticking on the trade deadline, with less than 90 minutes to go. Here are a few tidbits about possible last-minute deals:

  • ESPN is reporting that the Sixers have dropped their pursuit of Kyle Lowry after trading for George Hill, but the Heat are still trying to acquire the Raptors‘ point guard, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. A source tells Jackson the Lakers and Clippers have also contacted Toronto about Lowry.
  • The Clippers have asked the Hawks about point guard Rajon Rondo, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN (Twitter link from Mirjam Swanson of The Southern California News Group). L.A. was interested in signing Rondo in free agency, but he opted for a two-year, $15MM deal with Atlanta.
  • After acquiring All-Star center Nikola Vucevic from the Magic, the Bulls are trying to shake up their roster ever further, tweets K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports. Chicago is still talking to the Pelicans about Lonzo Ball, but New Orleans wants more than Lauri Markkanen in return. The Bulls used a lot of their draft capital in the Vucevic deal.
  • Offers for Thaddeus Young haven’t improved enough for the Bulls to consider moving him, tweets Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times.
  • The Warriors could be a possible destination for Sixers guard Danny Green, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).