Clippers owner Steve Ballmer invested $100MM in the city of Inglewood, California this week, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com.
The investment was created as part of the city’s new arena development agreement, with the Clippers labeling it as the largest funding commitment for community programs related to a sports or entertainment venue in California.
“We’re close to a residential neighborhood and we are being very mindful,” Ballmer told ESPN in July about building a potential arena in Inglewood. “Investing well into the community, being a good citizen of the community. No homes need to get moved but we need to be a good neighbor.”
Ballmer’s proposal for a new Clippers arena, according to Youngmisuk, would include a corporate headquarters, team training facility, sports medicine clinic and much more.
“I want it to be beautiful,” Ballmer said. “But I want it to be about basketball. I want it to be comfortable. But I want it to be about basketball.”
There’s more today out of the Pacific Division:
- James Ham of NBC Sports Sacramento examines how Trevor Ariza could fit in a crowded Kings rotation this season. Ariza, a veteran 3-and-D forward, signed a two-year, $25MM deal to join the Kings in free agency this past summer.
- Mike Trudell of Lakers.com discusses several Lakers-related items in his mailbag, including the possibility of Alex Caruso starting at point guard this season. Caruso was better than Rajon Rondo while playing alongside LeBron James last season, though head coach Frank Vogel also has the option of testing Quinn Cook at starting point guard in training camp.
- Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com examines whether former All-Star Dwight Howard could help solve the Lakers‘ depth issues at the center position. Howard is expected to fill in the role that injured center DeMarcus Cousins was supposed to fill before tearing his ACL, likely playing back-up center behind JaVale McGee to start the season and controlling the team’s interior presence on defense.
Frank Vogel talks about the excitement of coaching LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the opportunity that Dwight Howard has to revive his career and the wide open Western Conference playoff race in a lengthy interview with Steve Aschburner of NBA.com.
Few coaches going into a new situation have ever faced as much pressure to win right away as Vogel will. The trade that brought Davis from New Orleans has pushed the Lakers into a favorite’s role, and the sense of urgency for James has grown after missing the playoffs last year.
Vogel is also entering a situation where he clearly wasn’t the first choice for the job. He was only hired after negotiations with Tyronn Lue collapsed, and he was asked to bring along former NBA coaches Jason Kidd and Lionel Hollins as assistants. Still, he’s eager for the chance to mentor what could be a historically great duo in James and Davis.
“Talent-wise, they’re the two best players I’ll ever have had the opportunity to coach,” Vogel said. “That brings a lot of fun, a lot of excitement to what we’re able to do on the court. It brings a lot of challenges too. You have to make sure you’re managing them the right way and putting them in the right positions to feel good about their roles and what’s happening around them. There are challenges involved with that. So I’m looking forward to how that all is going to play out.”
Vogel touches on several other subjects, including:
Howard’s return to L.A.:
“I think he’s excited about this opportunity with the Lakers. It’s very different from the first time he came through. Then, he was a mega-star coming in with two other mega-stars [Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash]. This time around, he’s had a few teams where they haven’t had great success. And he’s at a different point, age-wise, in his career. So he’s excited just to be part of something, in any way he can help. He knows it’s going to be more of a role player type of role.”
Whether Davis will see more time at power forward or center:
“To me, he’s effective in both positions. But I don’t think it’s wise when your mindset is to be at your best going into the playoffs, to have him banging with centers for 82 games full-time. Does that mean he’s never going to do it in the regular season? No, of course he’s going to play some center in the regular season. But we want to make sure we keep the end goal in sight and getting him to April, for that playoff run, the right way.”
The rivalry with the Clippers:
“They have a terrific team and a terrific coach, and their front office is doing really well. But we can’t focus on their location. We still have to focus on ourselves and the task at hand. Not just worry about what’s happening crosstown. There are a lot of teams capable of winning the West, so we’ll be focused on our process.”
News that the Grizzlies are currently uninterested in negotiating a buyout with Andre Iguodala is unlikely to push the veteran’s potential trade suitors into action, according to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com, who hears from league sources that those teams are more likely to “wait out” the Grizzlies.
As Deveney notes – and as has been previously reported – Memphis would like to get a first-round pick in exchange for Iguodala, but teams with interest in the former Warrior don’t believe it will ultimately take more than a second-rounder. Even that price may be too high for some interested teams, who are hoping Iguodala will eventually become available via buyout.
One league executive who spoke to Deveney suggested that an impasse at this point shouldn’t be a surprise.
“What the Grizzlies are doing, it is to be expected,” the exec said. “They’re looking at him as an asset and they want to get something in return for him. He’s under contract, so they hold all the cards. The worst he can do is not show up and it is not like Memphis is going to be playing for a playoff spot. Him not showing up wouldn’t help anything. But if you’re on the outside, those teams, they’re just waiting it out.”
The Clippers are viewed around the NBA as the most likely landing spot for Iguodala, per Deveney, but they don’t necessarily have a simple path to a trade, given all the draft picks they’ve traded away and their proximity to the tax line. The Rockets, Lakers, Nuggets, and Mavericks have been linked to Iguodala, but all face potential roadblocks on the trade market too.
According to Deveney, the Grizzlies’ ideal scenario would be to have Iguodala start the season on the roster to mentor the team’s young players, then trade him at some point before the deadline in exchange for a first-round pick — or at least a second-rounder or two. But it’s unclear how enthusiastic the 35-year-old would be about spending much of the 2019/20 season on a non-contending team.
“It is going to be a matter of whether the Grizzlies blink on this one or not,” the league executive told Deveney. “You have a guy who does not want to be there but has some value. He does not have a ton of value, though. He’s 35, 36 years old. So what do you do, hold him hostage? If you want him to be a guy to help your young players but he does not want to do that, does that really help your young players? Most teams figure they can wait (the Grizzlies) out on this.”
Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian took a Grizzlies-centric look at the Iguodala situation on Monday, writing that “one way or another” the former Finals MVP figures to be on a new team after the February trade deadline.
During a recent appearance on The Joe Budden Podcast (h/t to Dan Feldman of NBC Sports), Trail Blazers superstar point guard Damian Lillard, who recently signed a super-max extension to stay in Portland through 2025, explains his thoughts as to why more players don’t do the same.
“I think people walk away from it because of the media… the outside influence, people talking about their legacy… so (the players) say, ‘It’s not about the money. I want to win the championship. And I want to do this.”
“But I don’t think just because you decide to stay and not pass up on that money, that don’t mean you ain’t trying to win it. When you’re 42 years old and your career [is] over, and you ain’t won it, anyway, and you walked away from 60 million dollars more than what you got, they ain’t even going to be talking about you then. The joke is going to be on you.”
Lillard’s point is an interesting one, and it begs the question as to how many players eligible for a super-max turned it down for this reason. Even though he won a championship in Toronto, Kawhi Leonard almost certainly did not. But, it’s conceivable Anthony Davis felt pressure to leave the Pelicans because outside influences convinced him he couldn’t win a title in New Orleans and that outcome would be bad for his legacy.
We have more content from around the basketball world, below:
- Quinn Davis of Basketball Insiders takes a look at three role players who could make an impact on a team with championship aspirations next season: Sixers forward James Ennis, Clippers forward Maurice Harkless, and Jazz big man Ed Davis.
- Newly inducted Hall-of-Famer, big man Jack Sikma, said during his induction speech last night that it’s time for the NBA to return to Seattle, writes Anthony Olivieri of ESPN. “Speaking for all Sonics fans, it’s our great hope that the NBA will soon find a pathway to bring a franchise back to Seattle. It’s time.”
- The Xinjang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association are considering the signing of former NBA guard Ty Lawson because Ian Clark cannot report to the team yet due to an injury, per Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.
The health of the Clippers‘ two new stars will determine how much success they’ll have this season, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. The more immediate concern involves Paul George, who is recovering from surgery in June to fix a small labrum tear in his left shoulder.
George will likely miss all of October, according to Buha, and whenever he returns he will need time to rediscover his shooting rhythm and blend his talents with his new teammates. Buha considers the Clippers to be just “fringe contenders” until George is 100% and warns that they may get off to a disappointing start.
The concern with Kawhi Leonard is load management, which is something the Raptors happily agreed to last season to keep him fresh for the playoffs. Leonard played just 60 regular season games last year, and his availability will play a large role in where the Clippers finish in the standings.
There’s more today from Los Angeles:
- The addition of two elite players should mean a smaller role for Lou Williams, Boha suggests in the same story. He will still provide a spark off the bench, but won’t have the same control over the offense when George and Leonard are both active. Buha also states that Williams’ defensive liabilities could mean Landry Shamet or Patrick Beverley might take some of his late-game minutes.
- Shane Rhodes of Basketball Insiders examines whether adding Dwight Howard to their roster is worth the risk for the Lakers. L.A. reached out to Howard after DeMarcus Cousins was lost with an ACL injury, but Rhodes notes that Howard’s track record since 2013 doesn’t inspire confidence. Because of the roster turnover in the past two seasons, Rhodes doubts that the Lakers have the locker room cohesion to handle any problems that Howard may cause.
- Dwyane Wade isn’t actively planning a comeback, but he tells Arash Markazi of The Los Angeles Times that he’ll be working out with LeBron James at the Lakers‘ training facility and at Staples Center. James and Wade have been close friends since they entered the league, and their sons are now high school teammates. “You’re definitely going to see me out there,” Wade said. “I’ll be there early to work out with LeBron before the game starts. I just want to stay around it and be as involved as I can.”
NBA teams have now completed the brunt of their offseason work, with the draft and free agency practically distant memories. Still, with training camps still a few weeks away, many clubs around the league have at least one or two outstanding issues they’ve yet to address.
We’ve spent the last couple weeks looking at all 30 NBA teams, separating them by division and checking in on a key outstanding question that each club still needs to answer before the 2019/20 regular season begins.
Golden State Warriors
Will the Warriors try to create any additional breathing room under the hard cap?
As I noted earlier this week when I took a closer look at teams currently in luxury-tax territory, the Warriors are only about $407K from their hard cap, assuming they intend to retain Alfonzo McKinnie along with their 13 players on guaranteed contracts.
That proximity to the hard cap will significantly limit the Warriors’ roster flexibility this season. The Dubs won’t be able to carry a 15th man until late in the year. They’ll have little ability to replace an injured player on the roster. And they essentially won’t be able to take back more salary than they send out in any trade.
Warriors management would surely love to create some breathing room by cutting costs, but there aren’t many realistic ways for the team to move further below the hard cap. Only six players have cap hits greater than $2MM. Three of them – Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green – aren’t going anywhere, and the other three – D’Angelo Russell, Kevon Looney, and Willie Cauley-Stein – can’t be traded until at least December 15, even if the club wanted to.
In other words, if they want to create any extra room below their hard cap, the Warriors may have to get awfully creative.
Los Angeles Clippers
Who will be the Clippers’ 15th man?
The Clippers are carrying 14 players with fully guaranteed salaries and four with non-guaranteed camp contracts, leaving the door open for one of those non-guaranteed players – Donte Grantham, Terry Larrier, James Palmer Jr., or Derrick Walton Jr. – to claim the 15th regular season roster spot.
While it’s possible that one of those players will become the Clippers’ 15th man, I’d expect a team with title aspirations to be thinking bigger. Leaving that final roster spot open to start the season in case opportunities arise on the trade or buyout market is probably the most likely path for Los Angeles.
Still, it’s possible those opportunities will arise even before the season begins, as they did for L.A.’s other team when the Lakers signed Dwight Howard. Andre Iguodala is likely the Clippers’ top target to fill out the roster, but other veterans may shake loose as teams set their rosters this fall.
Los Angeles Lakers
Do the Lakers have a recovery timetable in mind for DeMarcus Cousins?
Assuming Dwight Howard looks okay in training camp, he’s on track to fill the Lakers‘ 15th regular season roster spot. Like the rival Clippers though, the Lakers are a team with championship aspirations and will want to make sure they’re optimizing all 15 roster spots. That’s where Cousins comes in.
A torn ACL isn’t quite as serious as a torn Achilles, so it’s possible Cousins will be able to make it back before the end of the 2019/20 season. But it’s his third major leg injury in the last two years, so he certainly shouldn’t be in a rush to return.
Cousins’ contract with the Lakers is only for one year, and he’ll receive his full $3.5MM whether or not he spends the whole season on the team’s roster. If the Lakers determine Cousins will miss the entire season, it would probably make sense to waive him and open up that roster spot for someone who could contribute in 2019/20.
While releasing Cousins now would create some added preseason roster flexibility, the Lakers won’t necessarily have to make this decision before the season begins — waiving him in, say, January would still open up opportunities at or after the trade deadline. His contract could also be used for salary-matching purposes in a deal.
Is Devin Booker happy with the Suns’ offseason?
With the 2018/19 season winding down in March, Booker spoke about being involved in the Suns‘ offseason roster moves, suggesting that there was an “understanding” when he signed his five-year contract extension with the club that he’d have a voice in those decisions.
Booker hasn’t spoken in depth this summer about the Suns’ offseason, so it’s not clear if he pushed for – or voiced support for – any of the team’s acquisitions, such as Ricky Rubio, Dario Saric, Aron Baynes, Frank Kaminsky, or first-round pick Cameron Johnson. We did hear in the spring that Booker had no input in the firing of Igor Kokoskov, and a report during free agency suggested that Phoenix opted not to pursue point guard D’Angelo Russell despite Booker’s advocacy.
The Suns certainly have no obligation to run every move by their star guard, and as long as the on-court results start to improve, Booker should be on board with the direction of the franchise. Still, it’s a situation worth keeping an eye on. Even though he’s several years away from free agency, any sign of tension between Booker and the Suns would be a cause for some concern.
Will the Kings sign Buddy Hield to a rookie scale extension?
With Ben Simmons, Jamal Murray, and Caris LeVert locked up to rookie scale extensions, Hield (along with Raptors forward Pascal Siakam) may be the next in line for a new deal. The Kings have until October 21 to get something done with their young sharpshooter, and GM Vlade Divac confirmed this week they’re working on it.
It will be fascinating to see if the Kings and Hield’s camp can agree on a fair price in the coming weeks. If he replicates or builds upon his impressive 2018/19 season, Hield can reasonably expect to get big-time offers as a restricted free agent in 2020, especially given how weak next year’s free agent class projects to be. He has some leverage, and won’t necessarily have to settle for a team-friendly deal.
The Kings, on the other hand, will have to be careful in negotiations with Hield, since he’s the first of many young players they’ll need to lock up in the coming years — De’Aaron Fox will be extension-eligible in 2020, with Marvin Bagley to follow in 2021. The higher they go for Hield, the less flexibility – and leverage – the Kings will have in those future negotiations.
Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- With the Clippers prepared to enter the season as one of the NBA’s top title contenders, Jovan Buha of The Athletic poses a question for each player on the roster. Among Buha’s questions: How much will Kawhi Leonard rest? Can Lou Williams adjust to a reduced role? And is Ivica Zubac the team’s center of the future?
Training camps are still several weeks away from opening, but a number of NBA teams have already reached their 20-player offseason roster limits, either officially or unofficially.
Offseason rosters are fairly fluid. Teams will often sign a player to an Exhibit 10 contract to ensure he’ll receive a bonus if he spends time with their G League affiliate, then waive him days later. So the clubs with full 20-man rosters now won’t necessarily bring those specific 20 players to training camp. Still, it appears that at least a handful of teams may be done making roster moves until camps open.
With the help of our roster count tracker, here’s a breakdown:
Officially full 20-man rosters:
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Indiana Pacers
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Utah Jazz
While the Cavaliers are carrying 19 players on standard contracts and just one on a two-way deal, the six other teams listed here have an 18/2 split and probably won’t have their camp invitees compete for a two-way slot.
Still, a few roster decisions are likely in store for some teams on this list. The Grizzlies, for instance, are carrying 17 players with full or partial guarantees, and probably won’t still have Andre Iguodala on their roster by the time they set their 15-man regular season roster.
Unofficially full 20-man rosters:
- Charlotte Hornets
- Detroit Pistons
- Minnesota Timberwolves
Each of these three teams technically has 19 players under contract, with one roster spot still open. However, Kobi Simmons is expected to fill that final spot for the Hornets, Michael Beasley will do so for the Pistons, and Tyus Battle will be the Timberwolves‘ 20th man.
Very unofficially full 20-man rosters:
- New Orleans Pelicans
- New York Knicks
The Pelicans have 18 players under contract, but various post-draft reports in June indicated that they’d sign Jalen Adams, Aubrey Dawkins, and Javon Bess at some point. It’s possible one or more of those reports was erroneous, or the agreements fell apart. For now though, we’re assuming some combination of those players will fill out New Orleans’ 20-man roster.
The Knicks are in a similar boat, with 16 players officially signed and five other contract agreements reported. Deals with Kris Wilkes, V.J. King, and Amir Hinton were reported in June, while July and August reports indicated that New York would also sign Kenny Wooten and Lamar Peters. We’re still waiting to see if the team finalizes all those signings.
The Clippers have filled their 20-man offseason roster by signing free agent forward Donte Grantham. According to RealGM’s transactions log, the deal was finalized on Tuesday. Jovan Buha of The Athletic tweets that it’s an Exhibit 10 contract, giving Grantham the opportunity to compete for a roster spot in training camp.
Grantham, 24, went undrafted out of Clemson in 2018 and then spent most of his first professional season on a two-way contract with the Thunder. Although he played just two total minutes in three NBA games for Oklahoma City, the 6’8″ forward was a regular starter for the OKC Blue, the Thunder’s G League affiliate, averaging 10.5 PPG and 6.5 RPG on .404/.372/.804 shooting in 34 contests (26.5 MPG).
Grantham’s two-way deal included a second season, but the Thunder opted to go in a different direction, waiving him last month.
The Clippers are now carrying 14 players on guaranteed contracts, two on two-way deals, and four with non-guaranteed salaries. If the club plans to keep a 15th man on its roster to open the season, Grantham figures to compete with fellow camp invitees Derrick Walton Jr., Terry Larrier, and James Palmer Jr. for that spot.