Lou Williams

Harden, Giannis, George Named MVP Finalists

Defending champion James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul George are the finalists for this season’s Most Valuable Player award, the league announced in a press release.

The voting is expected to be close between Harden, who averaged 36.1 PPG and 7.5 APG during the regular season, and Antetokounmpo, who carried the Bucks to the best record in the league while averaging 27.7 PPG, 12.5 RPG and 5.9 APG. George averaged 28.0 PPG, 8.2 RPG and 4.1 APG.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors’ 2019 NBA Award Picks: Most Valuable Player]

The league also released the finalists for its other awards. The winners will be revealed during a TNT broadcast on Monday, June 24. Here are the rest of the finalists:

Rookie of the Year:

Sixth Man of the Year:

Defensive Player of the Year:

Most Improved Player:

Coach of the Year:

  • Mike Budenholzer (Bucks)
  • Michael Malone (Nuggets)
  • Doc Rivers (Clippers)

Rivers: Lou Williams Could Miss 2-3 Weeks

Clippers guard Lou Williams, who left Monday’s game against Phoenix with a hamstring issue, could miss the next two or three weeks due to that injury, head coach Doc Rivers said on Tuesday night before the club’s game against Toronto (link via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com).

“My guess, two weeks,” Rivers said, per Youngmisuk. “I don’t know. Honestly. They said it was not a bad hamstring, but I have never heard of a good one. I think when you hurt those things, those are really tough injuries.”

Williams has struggled a little with his shot so far this season, posting a .398 FG% which would match his career low. However, he’s still a go-to option for the Clippers in the clutch, and is averaging 17.2 PPG.

While the Clips will miss Williams in his absence, they have a deep roster and shouldn’t find themselves too shorthanded over the next couple weeks. Patrick Beverley, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Avery Bradley will continue to play major roles in the backcourt, with Milos Teodosic, Tyrone Wallace, and Sindarius Thornwell among the candidates to pick up a few extra minutes.

Lou Williams Wins Sixth Man Award

Lou Williams career year earned him the league’s Sixth Man of the Year award, it was announced at the NBA’s annual awards show. The 31-year-old Clippers guard easily beat out the other finalists, the Rockets’ Eric Gordon and the Raptors’ Fred VanVleet.

Williams had always provided instant offense off the bench during his career but he turned it a couple of notches this past season. He easily surpassed his previous scoring standards by averaging 22.6 PPG while dishing out 5.3 APG, another career best. Williams shot 43.5% from the field and 35.9% on 3-point attempts in 79 games in 19 career starts.

Williams scored 30 or more points in 17 games and blew up for a career-best 50 points against the Warriors on January 10th. Gordon won the award in 2017 while Williams was one of the finalists.

Finalists For NBA Awards Announced

The top three finalists for each of this year’s NBA awards are being released on tonight’s TNT pre-game show. The trophies will be presented June 25 at the league’s official awards show.

Here’s an ongoing list that we will update as the candidates are announced, along with links to our staff’s picks for each honor:

Rookie of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: ROY


Most Improved Player

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MIP


Sixth Man of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: Sixth Man


Coach of the Year

  • Dwane Casey (Raptors)
  • Quin Snyder (Jazz)
  • Brad Stevens (Celtics)

Hoops Rumors Analysis: COY


Defensive Player of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: DPOY


Most Valuable Player

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MVP

Grizzlies Notes: Evans, Chalmers, Bickerstaff

Throughout the entire second-half of the 2017/18 NBA season (i.e. after the trade deadline), the Grizzlies have maintained that they plan to re-sign guard Tyreke Evans to a new deal this summer, most likely with an offer for the non-taxpayer mid-level exception worth an estimated $8.6MM for the 2018/19 season.

This is because the Grizzlies only possess Non-Bird Rights on Evans, meaning the most they could pay him next season without the MLE or cap room is $3.948MM, 120% more than the $3.29MM he made this season.

And while the optimism in Memphis has not yet publicly waned, Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com writes that general manager Chris Wallace didn’t sound as convincing after the season that a successful pitch would be made to Evans in free agency as he did when he said the same thing after Evans was retained at the trade deadline.

As Wallace points out, Evans is unfortunately probably just as likely to sign a deal similar to Lou Williams – which would fit under the MLE – as he is to signing a one-year, high-paying contract, a la Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, for a team looking to clear cap space for the summer of 2019.

There’s more out of Memphis:

  • In another article for Grizzlies.com, Wallace focuses on veteran Mario Chalmers‘ pending free agency, writing that the soon to be 32-year-old point guard is likely only to return to the Grizzlies, if at all, as an end-of-free-agency option, likely on another minimum-salary contract.
  • New head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has not yet made any decisions on who he plans to hire onto his coaching staff, tweets Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal. Bickerstaff was just yesterday officially named head coach.
  • In a full article for The Commercial Appeal, Tillery reports that franchise cornerstone Marc Gasol is pleased with the hiring of Bickerstaff. “J.B. deserves a real shot at this without any restrictions,” Gasol said. “He has earned it… He’s always so positive. He always helps me understand, ‘Do your job. Control what you can control and the rest will take care of itself.’ Our communication has been really good. We’re both going in the same direction. And that’s important.” Both Gasol and Mike Conley were known supporters of Bickerstaff, so Gasol’s contentment should come as no surprise.

Los Angeles Notes: Thomas, Cap Space, Williams

Isaiah Thomas was traded from the Cavaliers to the Lakers on Thursday, ending a tumultuous 15-game run in Cleveland. Coming off a serious hip injury, Thomas’ MVP-caliber performance from Boston disappeared and his public and private comments during the Cavs’ slump contributed to turmoil in the locker room.

Sean Deveney of Sporting News examines Thomas’ value as he heads for unrestricted free agency in the summer. Thomas was legitimately a top-five player in the league with the Celtics who did not mince words about wanting a maximum deal once he hits the market. Now that he’s gone from Cleveland, Thomas lost the chance of the Cavaliers using Bird rights to sign him to a max contract. Instead, he is unlikely to stay in Los Angeles and one general manager told Deveney before the trade that Thomas’ chances at a max deal are unlikely.

“It’s a tough position because he has certain expectations but it’s hard to see where he could have those expectations met,” the GM said. “He is going to be disappointed, a lot, if he is not with Cleveland but still thinks he is getting a max deal out there. The money is just not there.”

Check out other Lakers news below:

  • Thomas’ agent Aaron Goodwin spoke to USA Today’s Sam Amick after his client was dealt on Thursday. Goodwin made it clear that Thomas worked hard to get back to health with the Cavs and wanted it to work out. However, Goodwin insisted that Thomas does not want to come off the bench in Los Angeles and wants to prove he is still an impactful player. Per ESPN’s Chris Haynes and Ohm Youngmisuk, Thomas will come off the bench for the Lakers in his debut on Saturday. However, sources tell Haynes and Youngmisuk that the plan is for Thomas to eventually start.
  • ESPN Insider’s Bobby Marks (subscription required and recommended) examined the Lakers’ healthy salary cap entering this summer and beyond. Shedding the contracts of Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. gives the Lakers enough cap space this summer for two elite free agents. However, Marks also looks at the possibility of the team being patient and waiting for summer 2019 to avoid another situation of Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng.
  • Lou Williams signed a three-year extension with the Clippers before the deadline, ending any rumors he would be dealt. After suiting up for four teams in four years, Williams was happy with the Clippers and wanted a sense of stability, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN.

Clippers Sign Lou Williams To Contract Extension

2:55pm: Williams’ three-year extension will be worth $8MM annually, with a $1.5MM partial guarantee on the third year, per Mark Deeks of GiveMeSport (Twitter links). The partial guarantee on that final year can increase if Williams hits certain performance incentives, says Deeks. As expected, those terms will make Williams ineligible to be traded this week.Lou Williams vertical

Williams’ deal is now official.

12:12pm: The Clippers and veteran guard Lou Williams have agreed to terms on a three-year contract extension, league sources tell Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune first reported (via Twitter) that the Clips planned to finalize Williams’ extension before today’s practice. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski adds that the deal will include a third-year team option, while TNT’s David Aldridge suggests there’s a partial guarantee on that third year (Twitter links).

Salary details aren’t yet known, but Williams would be eligible to receive up to about $30.3MM for three new years. A person with knowledge of the negotiations told Sam Amick of USA Today earlier today that a deal may end up closer to about $8.5MM annually.

Late last night, Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst broke the news that Williams and the Clippers were making progress toward a new contract, suggesting that teams with interest in trading for the 31-year-old were becoming “increasingly resigned” to the fact that he may not be available.

A contract extension on its own doesn’t make a player ineligible to be traded, but NBA rules will prevent Williams from being dealt for the next six months if he signs an extension that adds three new years to his current contract, or includes a raise of more than 5%. It appears that Lou Will’s extension will fit that bill, which would mean he’ll stay put at Thursday’s deadline. Even if Williams retains his trade eligibility, his agreement with the Clippers looks like a signal that he’s part of the team’s long-term plans.

Long regarded as one of the NBA’s most dangerous bench scorers, Williams has taken his game to another level since joining the Clippers in last June’s Chris Paul trade with the Rockets. In 51 games (14 starts) so far this season, the former second-round pick has put up 23.3 PPG and 5.3 APG with a shooting line of .439/.380/.900. He had been in the final year of his contract, earning a $7MM salary.

The timing of the move is interesting for the Clippers, who just cleared a considerable amount of long-term salary from their books last week by sending Blake Griffin to Detroit. There had been speculation that the front office was looking to create cap room to pursue free agents in the summer of 2019, or perhaps even 2018. Williams’ new deal figures to reduce the team’s spending flexibility.

After locking up Williams, the Clippers figure to continue exploring the trade market for deals involving some of their other veterans. As Charania notes within his report, DeAndre Jordan and Avery Bradley are both viewed as trade candidates.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Clippers, Lou Williams Make Progress On Extension

9:46am: If the Clippers and Williams reach an extension agreement, it would likely be a two- or three-year deal worth about $8.5MM annually, a person with knowledge of the negotiations tells Sam Amick of USA Today.

7:50am: With the trade deadline just a day away, the Clippers and Lou Williams are engaged in discussions about a contract extension, and those talks have “gathered significant momentum,” according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst.

There’s a growing possibility that the Clippers will reach a new deal with Williams in advance of Thursday’s trade deadline, and rival teams with interest in the veteran guard have become “increasingly resigned” to the fact that he may not be available, league sources tell Wojnarowski and Windhorst.

February 8 isn’t the deadline for the Clippers and Williams to agree on an extension — the two sides have until June 30 to hammer out a new deal and avoid having Lou Will hit the open market in July. However, Thursday’s trade deadline serves as a sort of de facto extension deadline. If the Clips lock up Williams by then, he won’t be moved, but if the two sides can’t reach an extension agreement, the odds of a trade would increase.

Changes to the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement made Williams extension-eligible this season, and allow for a deal comparable to the ones signed by Norman Powell and Josh Richardson in the fall. Those extensions are worth nearly $42MM over four years, starting at $9.37MM in 2018/19 and increasing to $11.62MM by 2021/22.

While it’s not clear if the Clippers are willing to offer the full amount allowable, an extension of that nature would be worth more than the mid-level exception, and would be a nice payday for a 31-year-old who has never earned a higher salary than the $7MM he’s making this season. Williams has earned a raise with his play in 2017/18, averaging 23.3 PPG and 5.3 APG with a .439/.380/.900 shooting line.

Williams and Tyreke Evans, who are both enjoying career years on expiring contracts, have been cited most frequently as trade candidates coveted by contenders looking for an added scoring punch. If Williams stays put through the deadline, that’s probably good news for the Grizzlies, who could perhaps extract a little more value in exchange for Evans.

Northwest Rumors: Evans, Ingles, Chandler

As the February 8 trade deadline draws closer, it doesn’t take long to hear new whispers about who might be moved and where. In a preview of the big day, Sports Illustrated’s Jake Fischer ran through some of the dominoes that he thinks are yet to fall.

Here are some Northwest Division rumors from that SI piece and more:

  • As we’re all aware of by now, Tyreke Evans and Lou Williams are on the block. One team that could emerge as a suitor for both is Minnesota, Fischer writes. The Timberwolves won’t be the only club looking to add the two talented wings, however.
  • Another thing from the Fischer piece is that he says the Jazz consider Joe Ingles untouchable. We documented earlier that Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert aren’t for sale but this is the first time that that the 30-year-old Aussie has come up as off limits.
  • Finally, the Sports Illustrated feature pins, in addition to the usual suspects, Wilson Chandler as a buyout candidate. Chandler has a $12.8MM player option for 2018/19 so it would be a dramatic move by the Nuggets but stranger things have happened.
  • The Jazz, winners of six straight, are playing well enough of late to beg the question; should they make a move at all? Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune writes that Derrick Favors is one well-documented possible trade chip who’s played a major role in Utah returning to their winning ways.

Latest On Thunder’s Search For Wing Help

With Andre Roberson sidelined for the rest of the season, the Thunder are on the lookout for help on the wing. With less than 48 hours left until the arrival of this year’s trade deadline, let’s check in on the latest reports on OKC’s options…

  • There’s a “growing expectation” that the Thunder will make a move in advance of the trade deadline, since there’s a lot riding on this season, says ESPN’s Royce Young. Oklahoma City would prefer not to give up rookie Terrance Ferguson in a deal for a veteran rental though, Young adds.
  • TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter link) identifies Maurice Harkless and Tony Allen as two potential targets to watch for the Thunder. Harkless would be an interesting fit, though it may be difficult for the Trail Blazers and Thunder to figure out a deal, since both teams are projected taxpayers and will be reluctant to add salary. As for Allen, Aldridge tweets that the veteran swingman has been cleared to play after recovering from his broken leg, but will need some time to get back to full speed.
  • The Thunder have done “due diligence” on Clippers guard Avery Bradley and Magic swingman Jonathon Simmons, per Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports. Mannix suggests that the Thunder might wait until closer to the deadline in the hopes that teams’ asking prices come down, noting that they could also wait until after the deadline and take their chances on what’s expected to be a “robust” buyout market.
  • Within his trade deadline preview, Jake Fischer of SI.com writes that the Thunder have shown interest in Clippers guard Lou Williams and expressed “serious” interest in Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans.
  • Oklahoma City has also been linked to Rodney Hood.