Luc Mbah a Moute

Texas Notes: Paul, Mbah a Moute, Mejri, Forbes

As much as they would like to get Chris Paul back in the lineup, the Rockets won’t use their new point guard until he is fully recovered, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. After playing on opening night, Paul has been sidelined by a bruised knee. He has been swimming and boxing to stay in shape and went through shooting drills Saturday.

Coach Mike D’Antoni said he hopes to have Paul back around the middle of this month, but there isn’t a definite date for his return. “Every day that goes by we get a little bit closer,” D’Antoni said. “It can’t be close enough. He’s getting there.”

For his part, Paul is anxious to get back on the court, and agrees with D’Antoni’s timeline, as he tells Sam Amick of USA Today.

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

  • Free agent addition Luc Mbah a Moute has been a huge bargain for the Rockets, Feigen writes in a separate story. Houston pursued the 31-year-old forward for his defensive prowess, but Mbah a Moute has contributed on offense as well. He is averaging 9.3 points per game and scored a season-high 20 Friday against the Hawks. The Rockets were able to sign him to a one-year, minimum-salary deal thanks to aggressive recruiting from Paul, who recognized the value of his former Clippers teammate.He’s the best-kept secret in the NBA,” D’Antoni said. “… He’s as good as anybody. He’s smart. He can play big minutes. He can shoot 3s. Whatever you want him to do he does it. He’s got playmaking skills. He sees the floor. I don’t know how we all missed it, but we all did.”
  • Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle continues to tinker with his lineup, starting Salah Mejri at center Saturday night instead of Nerlens Noel, relays Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. “He always brings a lot of energy, a lot of fight,” Carlisle said of Mejri, who made his first start of the season. “He brings a certain combative personality to the game, which is something we need right now.” Noel, who is headed toward unrestricted free agency  after accepting the team’s qualifying offer this summer, has been in and out of the starting lineup with six starts in 11 games.
  • Second-year shooting guard Bryn Forbes had his best night of the season Friday with 22 points off the Spurs‘ bench, notes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Undrafted out of Michigan State last season, Forbes seems to have earned a spot in San Antonio’s rotation. “It’s a (testament) to how well he’s been working behind the scenes,” said teammate Patty Mills. “He’s one of those hard workers who never puts his head down and just keeps grinding. So I’m really proud of him because you see it all pay off in the end.”

Rockets Notes: Capela, Tax, Anderson, Gupta

While Rockets president of basketball operations Daryl Morey doesn’t want to be making roster decisions with one specific rival in mind, he acknowledges in a Q&A with Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle that it’s impossible not to consider the Warriors at this point when making signings and trades.

“We know we’re going to face them,” Morey said of the Dubs. “We obviously have to get through some extremely tough teams, the Spurs, Oklahoma City, Memphis, you name it. To get there. But if you know you are going to be facing a team if you’re having the season you want, and we want to be all the way to the championship, I think it does make sense to focus on that team.”

Morey pointed to the signings of Luc Mbah a Moute and P.J. Tucker as moves that were made with the Warriors in mind. Both veteran forwards are strong defenders who would probably match up with the likes of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson in a playoff series against Golden State.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Asked by Feigen about the possibility of an extension for Clint Capela, Morey pointed out that contract extensions are getting trickier to pull off around the NBA, since the salary cap isn’t increasingly quite as quickly as initially anticipated, and long-term commitments are starting to add up for many teams across the league.
  • In Houston’s case, new deals for Capela, Chris Paul, and Trevor Ariza next summer would create luxury-tax issues for the club. While Morey didn’t comment specifically about new owner Tilman Fertitta‘s willingness to pay the tax, he told Feigen that Fertitta is “all about winning” and will do what it takes to win. Morey also noted that he has met with the Rockets’ incoming owner a couple times already.
  • Morey tells Feigen that he spoke to Ryan Anderson this week about the Knicks-related trade rumors that have been swirling around Anderson all offseason. “Players get frustrated,” Morey said. “It’s rare for a GM to get frustrated because we have to deal with it all the time, but this one has been frustrating because it’s lingering and not much is accurate out there.”
  • The Rockets announced today that Sachin Gupta has rejoined the team as a special advisor (link via Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston). Gupta was Morey’s first hire back in 2006, but left Houston to become a consultant for the Sixers during Sam Hinkie’s stint in Philadelphia.

Western Notes: Russell, Crawford, Mbah a Moute

Several teams were interested in trading for D’Angelo Russell, according to Lakers team president Magic Johnson, which was something that gave the front office confidence in trade talks.

“Like five teams called for D’Angelo [so] we knew that we could move D’Angelo for one of the pieces that we were looking for. So we decided on Brooklyn, they got a great player in D’Angelo and we got what we wanted,” Johnson said (via Ohm Youngmisuk of

Johnson added that it wasn’t difficult moving on from the former No. 2 overall pick. “I am not one of them dudes,” Johnson added. “When I say bye, that’s it. I keep moving. I can’t get caught in emotions and all that. That is not who I am. We moved and we kept moving. After that trade we went on to the next thing.”

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Jamal Crawford said he consulted former Wolves guard Zach LaVine before signing with Minnesota, as Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune shares. “He loved Minnesota, absolutely loved. Obviously, it’s cold, but he said it’s a great city, great people. He enjoyed playing for Coach Thibs,” Crawford said.
  • Luc Mbah a Moute, who officially signed with the Rockets earlier today, is excited to play under coach Mike D’Antoni, as Mark Berman of Fox 26 relays (Twitter link). “The environment that he creates is very much like a family,” the small forward said of D’Antoni. “It’s exciting.”
  • Despite his up-and-down stint with the Lakers, Nick Young said he may come back to the team to retire when it’s time to hang up his jersey, Mark Medina of the Orange County Register passes along. “I love LA. I might be back and retire here one day,” said Young. “I’ll come back with Kobe, MJ, and LeBron (James).”

Rockets Sign Luc Mbah a Moute

July 19: The signing is official, according to the team’s website.

July 16: The Rockets have reached an agreement with Luc Mbah a Moute, sources tell Chris Haynes of (Twitter link). The deal will be a one-year, minimum salary arrangement, according to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. 

Mbah a Moute had been in talks with the team about returning to L.A, though the team only had the veteran’s minimum at its disposal. He’ll get that sized deal with Houston after choosing to opt out of a $2.3MM player option in order to hit free agency.

Mbah a Moute has bounced around the league since the Bucks selected him in the second round of the 2008 draft. He played well in the Clippers’ starting lineup last season, shooting 50.5% from the field on 378 attempts while providing excellent defense.

Clippers Remain Engaged On Several Free Agents

The Clippers have had a busy offseason thus far and the team remains active with at least two players from last season’s roster. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter) first noted that Los Angeles has been engaged with Luc Mbah a Moute and Los Angeles Times scribe Brad Turner (via Twitter) added that in addition to Mbah a Moute, the Clippers are interested in retaining Marreese Speights.

While there is interest, Wojnarowski noted that the Clippers’ financial constraints would make a deal difficult and Turner added that no deal is close.

Mbah a Moute, 30, played in 80 games (76 starts) last season while averaging 6.1 PPG and 2.1 RPG. As for Speights, the 29-year-old appeared in all 82 games for Los Angeles and the NBA champion provided his usual solid production with 8.7 PPG and 4.5 RPG.

After losing Chris Paul to the Rockets, the Clippers spent significant money on sharpshooter Danilo Gallinari (three years, $63MM), international superstar Milos Teodosic (two years, $12.3MM), and re-signing Blake Griffin (five years, $173MM). While the team restocked its roster in the sign-and-trade sending Paul to Houston, Speights and Mbah a Moute were two key pieces of last year’s team on both sides of the floor.

Los Angeles has no cap space left as the team used its bi-annual exception last year and used up most of their mid-level exception on Teodosic and Jawun Evans. With approximately $1.5MM left on their MLE, the Clippers’ best chance of retaining Mbah a Moute/Speights would be on deals worth the veteran’s minimum.

FA Rumors: Muhammad, Farmar, Mbah a Moute, Allen

The Hawks, Nets, Bucks, Knicks and Magic have all expressed interest in swingman Shabazz Muhammad, according to Marc J. Spears of (Twitter links). The Bulls are on that list as well, tweets Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype. Muhammad became an unrestricted free agent last week when Minnesota pulled his qualifying offer to create enough cap room to sign Taj Gibson. He has been with the Wolves for all four of his NBA seasons and averaged 9.9 points in 78 games last year.

There’s more tonight on the free agent front:

  • Jordan Farmar is hoping to return to the NBA and spoke to Lakers coach Luke Walton today about a possible opportunity, Kennedy relays (Twitter link). The 30-year-old point guard played two games for the Kings in November of last season.
  • The Raptors have talked about making a play for former Clippers forward Luc Mbah a Moute, reports Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet (Twitter link).
  • The Clippers and Timberwolves are both considering Tony Allen, according to Tim MacMahon of (Twitter link). Coaches Doc Rivers in L.A. and Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota have connections with Allen from their time with the Celtics.
  • Veteran point guard Beno Udrih is talking to several teams in Las Vegas, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Now 35, Udrih believes he can play for several more years. He got into 39 games with the Pistons last season.
  • Former Baylor standout Royce O’Neale is considering several NBA offers, according to Kyler (Twitter link). The 24-year-old forward went undrafted in 2015 and has been playing in Lithuania, but he has an NBA opt-out in his contract through July 20th.

Cavaliers Notes: Crawford, Osman, Lue, Green

The Cavaliers weren’t able to get into a bidding war for Jamal Crawford because they need to keep enough money to sign Cedi Osman, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland is well over the cap for the upcoming season and wasn’t willing to give Crawford its entire $5.192MM taxpayer mid-level exception. The Cavs will need at least $816K to sign Osman, who has a $1MM buyout with his Turkish team. Crawford will reportedly sign a two-year, $8.9MM deal with the Timberwolves once he clears waivers. Vardon wrote on Friday that the Cavaliers were the favorites to land Crawford, but the Osman negotiations apparently changed that situation.

There’s more news out of Cleveland:

  • Coach Tyronn Lue stayed out of negotiations involving former GM David Griffin and front office recruit Chauncey Billups, Vardon writes in a separate piece. “You know how it affects me, he gave me my job,” was Lue’s only response to a question about Griffin at Friday’s summer league game. It was Griffin’s decision to fire David Blatt and replace him with Lue midway through the 2015/16 championship season. A few months after that title, Griffin rewarded Lue with a five-year, $35MM contract. Griffin could have been replaced by Billups, a close friend of Lue, but he turned down a below-market offer reported at $2MM per year. “Any time you get the chance to advance, be the president and GM, it’s always something great,” Lue said. “I know it’s something he always wanted to do. But I just kind of stayed out of the situation because I was so close to Griff, so close to Chauncey, so I didn’t want anything to do with it.”
  • The Cavs don’t seem worried about Jeff Green‘s drop in production last season, writes Marla Ridenour of The Akron Beacon Journal. They signed the 10-year veteran to a one-year, $2.3MM contract on Friday, with ESPN reporting that LeBron James had “active conversations” with Green before the deal was reached. Green has been with four teams in the past three seasons, and averaged just 9.2 points and 3.1 rebounds with the Magic last year, the lowest figures of his career in both categories.
  • Cleveland is limited is what it can offer, but Chris Fedor of put together a list of seven free agents who might be willing to take a little less to join a team that has been to three straight finals. He names Thabo Sefolosha, Tony Allen, Gerald Henderson, Luc Mbah a Moute, C.J. Miles, Rodney Stuckey and Dewayne Dedmon.

Clippers’ Luc Mbah A Moute To Opt Out

Clippers forward Luc Mbah a Moute has decided to turn down his player option for 2017/18 and opt out of his contract, reports Chris Haynes of (Twitter link). The move will ensure that Mbah a Moute becomes an unrestricted free agent on Saturday.

[RELATED: NBA Player Option Decisions For 2017/18]

Mbah a Moute, 30, averaged 6.1 PPG and 2.1 RPG with a .505/.391/.678 shooting line for the Clippers in 2016/17, appearing in 80 regular season games (22.3 MPG). While Mbah a Moute’s offensive production is modest, his defensive abilities kept him in the Clippers’ starting lineup for nearly the entire season.

The 2017/18 player option turned down by Mbah a Moute would have been worth $2,302,135. With the NBA’s minimum salaries on the rise, his lowest possible NBA salary for ’17/18 will be $2,116,955, so even if he’s unable to find a team willing to give him more than the minimum, he won’t have to accept much of a pay cut. In all likelihood, Mbah a Moute will be able to top that number, perhaps on a multiyear deal.

The Clippers signed Mbah a Moute last summer using the bi-annual exception, making L.A. the only team ineligible to use the BAE this offseason.

Pacific Notes: Mbah a Moute, Draft, Durant

Luc Mbah a Moute is expected to opt out of his contract this summer, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports. He is set to make roughly $2.3MM next season as part of the two-year deal he signed last offseason. Los Angeles used the Bi-Annual Exception to sign the small forward, so it won’t have that tool available as it looks to make upgrades this offseason.

The organization will have trouble adding outside talent due to a lack of resources available, as I detailed in the team’s offseason primer. If the Clippers re-sign both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, they will be well over the projected $101MM salary cap.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

Pacific Notes: Curry, Lacob, Mbah a Moute

It’s no secret that, despite the MVPs, Stephen Curry makes less money than some of his Warriors teammates do. The superstar guard is okay with it. “If I’m complaining about $44MM over four years, then I’ve got other issues in my life,” Curry told the Mercury News in a podcast.

Of course Curry is in line for a hefty pay raise as soon as this summer. Per Chris Haynes of ESPN, Curry will be eligible for a five-year extension worth roughly $210MM and you can be sure that the Warriors will present it to him as soon as they’re able too.

Though it would make little basketball sense for Curry to leave an elite level like a contender, the latest CBA makes it harder to justify on a financial level, too. Were Curry to consider options other than the Warriors, he could only receive $140MM over four years.

Like I’ve said from Day 1, when I was first asked about free agency, this is a perfect place to play. Bay Area fans are amazing, our organization’s amazing, we’ve put together an amazing team that’s competing for championships every year,” Curry said. “There’s really no reason that I can see right now that would draw me elsewhere.”

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • The Warriors have seven centers on their roster — eight if you include Draymond GreenTim Kawakami and Marcus Thompson of the Mercury News spoke with assistant general manager Kirk Lacob about how the club structured the roster coming out of training camp and what might come next.
  • Though not as frequently featured on highlight reels as some of his teammates, Luc Mbah a Moute has had a significant impact on the Clippers, writes Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. Head coach Doc Rivers agrees, offering some bold praise about the 30-year-old veteran. “He is one of the best defensive players in the league, bar none, but because he’s not a scorer, no one really notices, but that’s his value to a team.”
  • Despite their consecutive NBA Finals matchups,  LeBron James does not believe the Cavaliers and Warriors have a rivalry. “We’ve had two great Finals appearances the last two years,” James told the media. “But I had the same with San Antonio when I was in Miami. We weren’t rivals. And I think I played those guys more, so I wouldn’t look at it as rivals.”
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