Luc Mbah a Moute

Texas Notes: Mbah a Moute, Anthony, Mavericks, DeRozan

Luc Mbah a Moute only played one season with the Rockets, but he admits it’s going to be an odd feeling when he faces his former teammates tonight, relays Mirjam Swanson of The Daily Bulletin. Mbah a Moute came to Houston as a free agent last summer at the urging of Chris Paul, then returned to the Clippers over the offseason after receiving a one-year, $4.3MM offer.

“It’s always, always [weird],” said Mbah a Moute, who has been with six organizations in his 10-year career. “Especially that team, we had a really good team and a chance to do something special, so it’s going to be weird, but I look forward to it.”

Mbah a Moute provided a strong defensive presence off the bench for the Rockets. He averaged 7.5 PPG and shot .364 from 3-point range, but a late-season shoulder injury limited his effectiveness in the playoffs.

There’s more NBA news from the Lone Star State:

  • Carmelo Anthony seems like an uncomfortable fit with a Rockets team that emphasizes 3-point shooting, and a look at the stats shows he will have to change his game to be effective in Houston, according to Ben Alamar of ESPN.
  • The future the Mavericks envision was on display in Saturday’s win over the Timberwolves, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. First-round pick Luka Doncic had 26 points and six rebounds, while last year’s star rookie, Dennis Smith Jr., poured in 19 points, including the game-winning shot. “Hey, if that was a peek at the future, it’s looking good,” said J.J. Barea. “Great win. And you see Luka. He just plays the game. And Junior, he had foul trouble, stuck with it and made the big shot. He took a tough shot and made it. They’re tough.”
  • DeMar DeRozan has adapted quickly to his new situation with the Spurs, relays Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express News. DeRozan had a difficult time changing teams after nine seasons in Toronto, but he’s averaging 28.0 PPG through his first two games with San Antonio. “He’s absorbed everything we’ve given him so far, knowing full well it’s a new system,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “It will take some time for him to feel totally comfortable, but he’s highly intelligent. It’s the NBA, it’s not rocket science so he’s picking it up pretty quickly.”
  • Former Spurs forward DeJuan Blair is back in the organization after being drafted by Austin in Saturday’s G League draft, McDonald adds in the same story.

Contract Details: Redick, Bertans, Clippers, O’Quinn

J.J. Redick‘s new deal with the Sixers gives him plenty of protection in the unlikely event that Philadelphia wants to trade him. Because he re-signed on a one-year deal and will have Early Bird rights at the end of it, he receives the ability to block any trade involving him during the 2018/19 league year, since he’d lose those Early Bird rights in the event that he’s moved.

On top of that, Redick has a 7.5% trade kicker in his new deal, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link), which would give him a bonus if the Sixers do trade him and he approves the deal. That bonus would be worth about $919K, since Redick’s new contract has a value of $12.25MM, per Pincus.

Here are a few more details on newly-signed contracts, courtesy of Pincus:

  • The Spurs‘ new two-year agreement with Davis Bertans has a base value of $7MM annually, but Bertans can also earn $250K in unlikely incentives per year (Twitter link). The deal can be worth up to $14.5MM in total.
  • The Clippers split their full mid-level exception right down the middle, with Luc Mbah a Moute and Mike Scott each receiving $4,320,500 (Twitter link). L.A. will be hard-capped this season as a result of using the full MLE.
  • Jarred Vanderbilt, the 41st overall pick in this year’s draft, got a three-year, minimum-salary contract from the Nuggets with two fully guaranteed seasons (Twitter link). The third year will be non-guaranteed until July 15, 2020.
  • Kyle O’Quinn received the Pacers‘ full room exception ($4.449MM) on his one-year contract (Twitter link).

Clippers Sign Luc Mbah A Moute

JULY 11: The Clippers have officially signed Mbah a Moute, according to the NBA’s transactions log.

JULY 9: Rockets free agent forward Luc Mbah a Moute has agreed to a one-year contract with the Clippers, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The contract will be worth $4.3MM, Wojnarowski adds in another tweet.

Mbah a Moute had expressed dissatisfaction in his negotiations with Houston this month with the Rockets apparently offering just the veteran’s minimum. The Spurs, Lakers, Wizards, and Sixers had also reportedly expressed some level of interest in Mbah a Moute.

The Clippers essentially split their mid-level exception to acquire both Mbah a Moute and another forward, Mike Scott, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

The loss of Mbah a Moute appears to increase the possibility that Carmelo Anthony will wind up in a Houston uniform. The Rockets have now lost two key defensive wings in free agency with Trevor Ariza joining the Suns.

Familiarity played a role in Mbah a Moute’s decision, as he played two seasons for Doc Rivers and the Clippers before joining the Rockets prior to last season. He averaged 7.5 PPG in 25.6 MPG in his limited offensive role while making an above-average 36.4% of his long-range attempts.

In terms of the Clippers, the addition of Mbah a Moute gives them 14 guaranteed contracts and three others – Milos Teodosic, Patrick Beverley and CJ Williams – that are partially guaranteed or non-guaranteed, Bobby Marks of ESPN notes. Los Angeles now has $118MM in salary, $5.7MM below the luxury-tax threshold.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Rumors: Mbah A Moute, Hood, N. Young

While Clint Capela may be the Rockets‘ most important free agent remaining, he’s not the only one the team has to worry about. A person close to the situation and with knowledge of negotiations tells Kelly Iko of RocketsWire that Houston also hasn’t progressed toward a deal in talks with UFA forward Luc Mbah a Moute.

According to Iko, Mbah a Moute is seeking more money and long-term security than he received from the Rockets in 2017/18, but the club is offering him another minimum-salary deal. Iko’s source suggests that the Spurs, Lakers, Clippers, Wizards, and Sixers have all expressed some level of interest in Mbah a Moute as well.

Here are a few more free agent notes and rumors:

  • Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) describes the Rodney Hood sweepstakes as a three-team race involving the Cavaliers, Kings, and Bulls. Sacramento and Chicago are two of the only teams with the cap room necessary to make a viable offer to Hood — we wrote about the Kings’ interest in the RFA swingman earlier today.
  • Free agent swingman Nick Young has received some interest from the Kings, Grizzlies, Rockets, Cavaliers, Jazz, and Timberwolves, among others, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. According to Wolfson, Young views Minnesota as as “good opportunity” but the club’s interest hasn’t been as aggressive as it was a year ago.
  • The Cavaliers had a group in Las Vegas this morning to see free agent wing Treveon Graham work out, league sources tell TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter link). The Cavs have “strong interest” in Graham, who is drawing interest from the Timberwolves too, says Aldridge.

Free Agent Rumors: Mbah A Moute, Capela, Nwaba

While the Rockets secured their top target in free agency over the weekend when they reached a four-year, maximum-salary contract agreement with Chris Paul, the club has plenty of other free agents to address.

Houston agreed to re-sign Gerald Green, but lost Trevor Ariza to Phoenix, increasing the pressure to re-sign Luc Mbah a Moute. For his part, Mbah a Moute is very open to a return, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

“Of course, I want to be here, yeah,” Mbah a Moute said. “I think we had a great year last year. I had a good year. The team did great, a game away from the Finals. Hopefully, we’ll bring everybody back. I know Trevor left. But to bring everybody else back and have the same team and try to go at it again, (that) is what I’m hoping to do. We’ll see what happens.”

Here are a few other free agent notes and rumors, including more on the Rockets:

  • Clint Capela is perhaps the top free agent still on the board, and his restricted free agency will be fascinating to watch. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported earlier this week that – after meeting with the Rockets – Capela’s agent called at least 10 teams around the league, perhaps exploring whether any club might be willing to do an offer sheet (Twitter link via Ben DuBose). However, Orazio Cauchi of Sportando hears from a source that potential suitors are wary of Houston matching any offer.
  • Cauchi’s source suggests that Capela may be leaning toward signing his qualifying offer, which would allow the big man to become an unrestricted free agent and sign with any team in 2019. Of course, that could be a negotiating tactic — if the Rockets are worried about the possibility of Capela bolting a year from now, it may push them to increase their current offer to him. For what it’s worth, the initial offer from Houston was considered “disappointing” by Capela’s camp, according to Cauchi’s source.
  • Bulls restricted free agent David Nwaba has received a “barrage” of interest from around the NBA, tweets Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports. We heard earlier this week that Chicago was open to sign-and-trade offers for Nwaba.
  • Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com passes along some chatter on free agency from NBA executives at the Utah Summer League this week, while Sean Deveney of The Sporting News identifies some of free agency’s winners and losers so far.

Wizards Express Interest In Crawford, Mbah A Moute, Others

The Wizards lost one key member of their bench when Mike Scott reached an agreement with the Clippers on Monday, but the team has remained active in search of potential free agent additions.

According to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post (Twitter links), the Wizards have expressed interest in a number of veteran free agents, including Jamal Crawford, Luc Mbah a Moute, Dante Cunningham, and Willie Reed. Ty Lawson, who finished last season in D.C., also remains a possibility to return, Buckner adds.

The Wizards’ backcourt is getting pretty crowded, with Tomas Satoransky and newly-acquired Austin Rivers slotting in behind John Wall and Bradley Beal. Jodie Meeks and rookie Troy Brown could also see some time at the two, so it’s not clear whether Crawford, who will want a featured role off the bench, would be a good fit in Washington.

However, Mbah a Moute, Cunningham, and Reed make more sense as potential targets for the Wizards. Mbah a Moute and Cunningham are versatile forwards capable of knocking down three-pointers, while Reed is a big man who could add depth to a Wizards frontcourt that no longer features Marcin Gortat.

The Wizards have also been linked to Dwight Howard, Jeff Green, Treveon Graham, and Thomas Robinson, among other free agents.

Spears’ Latest: Crawford, Rockets, Rondo, Evans

We heard on Thursday that multiple Warriors players are lobbying for the front office to go after Jamal Crawford in free agency, but Golden State isn’t the only team that will kick the tires on the veteran scorer. According to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, the Pelicans, Sixers, Cavaliers, and Nuggets are also expected to show interest in Crawford, who is focusing on finding the right fit.

“For any player in free agency, fit and situation is so important,” Crawford told Spears. “You see players in one situation and they go to another and they look totally different. I’ve been around long enough to know that the player didn’t change. May just be the situation that he’s in. There is nothing wrong with that either. It’s all a part of growing and taking something positive out of that.

“For me, fit and situation may be even more important, because coming off the bench, you have to be able to make something happen for your team in a smaller amount of time,” Crawford continued. “So I truly have to have the right fit, and that was part of the reason I opted out (of his contract with the Timberwolves).”

Spears passes along several more notes on free-agents-to-be, so let’s round up the highlights…

  • In addition to working on re-signing Chris Paul and Clint Capela, the Rockets will also make an effort to retain Luc Mbah a Moute and Gerald Green, according to Spears, who suggests that Trevor Ariza could end up as the odd man out in Houston.
  • Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins are good friends, but Rondo would like to re-sign with the Pelicans regardless of whether Cousins stays or goes, per Spears.
  • The Grizzlies have interest in re-signing Tyreke Evans, but there’s a belief that he’ll be too expensive for Memphis to retain him, according to Spears. The Grizzlies don’t have Evans’ Bird rights, so they can only offer him their mid-level exception.
  • Although Avery Bradley is considered likely to land elsewhere, the Clippers do have interest in re-signing him, a source tells Spears.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2018: Houston Rockets

The Rockets committed to a certain title contention window when they traded half of their roster in exchange for Chris Paul. The deal has paid dividends considering that the addition of the future Hall of Famer has taken the franchise from solid Western Conference team in a world dominated by the Warriors to a legitimate championship contender.

For that reason, the Rockets will head into the summer with one primary goal: bringing Paul back. If, or perhaps when, that happens, the club will go about filling out the rest of the roster, likely retaining several of the rest of their pending free agents and filling out the lineup with journeymen on minimum deals.

Trevor Ariza, 33, SF (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $32MM deal in 2014
There are few intangibles guys better suited to complement the current Rockets core than Ariza but that doesn’t mean general manager Daryl Morey will overextend the franchise to keep him on-board. Fortunately, he may not have to. While Ariza has serious value as the starting small forward on a very competitive roster, he’s not the type of asset that rebuilding teams would pursue given his age and the price tag may be too steep for another contender, desperate to plug him in alongside their current core. Unless a lottery team foolishly dumps a pile of money on his doorstep, Ariza will be back in Houston in the $10MM range for as long as the club’s title contention window is open.

Tarik Black, 26, C (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $3MM deal in 2017
Black has shown flashes of promise in spot minutes over the course of his four-year career but he’s not the intriguing bargain bin scratch ticket he used to be. He’s not a bad option for the cash-strapped Rockets if they can bring him back for the minimum but if there’s any other organization desperate enough to offer more than that, it would make sense to let him walk.

Clint Capela, 24, C (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $6MM deal in 2014
After four years as one of the most cost effective game changers in the NBA, Capela is going to get paid as a restricted free agent. Capela is young, has a proven track record of playing a major role for a serious contender and hasn’t even scratched the surface of what he’d be capable of in starter’s minutes. It would surprise me if Capela doesn’t land a max offer sheet as a restricted free agent this summer and Houston has no choice but to match it if they want to continue being the only team with a semi-realistic chance of unseating the Warriors.

Gerald Green, 32, SG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $1MM deal in 2017
Green went from being practically out of basketball to putting forth his most inspired NBA season in years. In 2017/18, Green went unsigned until December. I anticipate that the Houston native will be back on board with the Rockets for the veteran’s minimum as soon as the dust settles on the rest of the team’s summer plans.

Joe Johnson, 37, SF (Down) – Signed to a one-year deal in 2018
The Rockets took a flyer on Johnson after he was bought out of the albatross deal he signed with the Jazz in 2016 but never managed to break into the club’s admittedly stacked rotation. It would make zero sense for any team to pay more than the veteran’s minimum for the greybeard after three years of team changes and pedestrian production.

Luc Mbah a Moute, 31, SF (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
The Rockets have done a fine job of surrounding their world-class skill players with defensive-minded role players. Landing Mbah a Moute for the minimum last summer was an incredibly valuable move. It’s hard to imagine that Mbah a Moute would sign for that cheap again this season seeing as he could realistically double or even triple that amount without breaking the bank for another contender. The Rockets would be happy to bring him back but may not be able to afford both he and Ariza.

Chris Paul, 33, PG (Down) – Signed to a five-year, $107MM deal in 2013
It wasn’t long ago that Paul seemed destined to sign a super max contract with the Clippers and retire a franchise legend. Fast forward to the summer of 2018 and we’re living in an entirely different reality. Paul performed brilliantly during his first season with the Rockets and his impact on the legitimate title contender is undisputed. That said, the franchise isn’t automatically compelled to offer a max money, four-year deal that would terminate when Paul is 37 years old. In a perfect world, the Rockets would sign him to a two- or three-year deal instead of going full-term.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texas Notes: Mbah a Moute, Tucker, Mavericks, Spurs

After missing the Rockets‘ first playoff series with a dislocated right shoulder, Luc Mbah a Moute hopes to be ready today when his team opens the Western Conference semifinals against the Jazz, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. On Saturday, Mbah a Moute went through his first full practice since the injury and believes he will be able to play.

“I’m ready in my mind,” said Mbah a Moute, who also suffered a dislocated shoulder in December. “I’ve done this already, so I’m not used to it, but I pretty much know what to expect.”

Officially listed as questionable, Mbah a Moute has been an impact player since coming to Houston in free agency last summer. He averaged 7.5 points and 3.0 rebounds per game and has the best defensive numbers among the Rockets’ rotation players.

There’s more news today out of Texas:

  • P.J. Tucker, Houston’s other key free agent addition, has a lot of similarities with former Rocket Mario Elie, notes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. A member of the city’s two championship teams of the 1990s, Elie was known for his toughness and versatility, two qualities that define Tucker. “I just love his demeanor,” Elie said. “He’s like me. He’s angry on the court and that’s how he should be. He has no friends out there. He just competes. And what I like about him, is he guards multiple positions. That what he does that I really like, just like I did.”
  • The Mavericks could be indirect beneficiaries of LeBron James‘ free agency, suggests Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. No matter where James ends up, a team will likely have to unload a significant salary, which Dallas is in position to absorb. The Mavericks could wind up with Clint Capela from the Rockets, Robert Covington from the Sixers or Julius Randle from the Lakers, or if James stays in Cleveland, Dallas could pursue Pelicans free agent DeMarcus Cousins.
  • The focus in San Antonio will be on Kawhi Leonard this summer, but the Spurs have plenty of free agent concerns, states Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. If Danny Green opts out, Deveney expects him to get offers of $12MM to $14MM per year for three to four seasons, which may be higher than the Spurs are willing to go. It’s also doubtful that they would commit to an expensive long-term deal for Rudy Gay if he opts out.

Injury Updates: Curry, Porter, VanVleet, Mbah a Moute

Stephen Curry is officially listed as questionable for the start of the Warriors‘ series with the Pelicans tomorrow night, relays Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News.

The star guard, who is recovering from a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee, was able to go through a full-court scrimmage today for the first time since suffering the injury March 23. However, the team isn’t ready to commit to playing him in Game 1, and Curry calls his chances “50-50.”

“Still to be determined. They come up with those snazzy words for a reason – doubtful, questionable, probable,” he said. “Just trying to work my way up whatever I need to do with whatever [trainer] Chelsea [Lane], the rest of the athletic training staff and coaching staff need to see before I can get back out there.”

Curry and Lane spent about 20 minutes after practice talking to coach Steve Kerr, who said Curry will be re-examined tonight and after Saturday’s morning shootaround before making a decision.

“It’s not as simple as, ‘Does he feel good? Then throw him out there,’” Kerr said. “It’s more about, ‘Let’s give him a few days and see how he responds from it.’”

There’s more playoff-related injury news to pass along:

  • Wizards forward Otto Porter, who is out indefinitely following a surgical procedure today on his left leg, has been experiencing pain since Game 4 of the series with Toronto, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. The decision to perform a lower leg fasciotomy to address a build-up of blood flow in the contusion area was made after reviewing the results of an MRI conducted today. Kelly Oubre will take Porter’s spot in the starting lineup, with Tomas Satoransky and Ty Lawson both expected to get more playing time, according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk (Twitter link). “We need Kelly on the floor,” coach Scott Brooks said to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. “Now that Otto is out, we need Kelly to give us great minutes. … It’s a great opportunity for him.” (Twitter link).
  • The Raptors will have guard Fred VanVleet available for tonight’s Game 6 with the Wizards, Lewenberg tweets. VanVleet has been limited to three minutes in the series because of soreness in his shoulder stemming from a collision on the final night of the season. “I don’t know what to expect,” said coach Dwane Casey, “but we’ll get him in.”
  • The Rockets had hoped to get Luc Mbah a Moute back for the start of their second-round series, but it appears that won’t happen, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Sidelined by a dislocated shoulder, Mbah a Moute won’t be re-evaluated until next week, although he was able to participate in the non-contact part of today’s practice, said coach Mike D’Antoni.
  • Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue still wasn’t sure of George Hill‘s  status when he met with reporters before tonight’s game, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Hill, who has been experiencing back spasms, warmed up before the game with a heat wrap on his back, notes ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (Twitter link).