Luka Doncic

Hawks Notes: Draft, No. 8, Reddish, Fernando

The Mavericks agreed to send their top-5 protected 2019 first-rounder to the Hawks as part of the Luka Doncic draft night trade last June. Entering the NBA draft lottery, Dallas had hoped to keep this year’s pick and delay conveying the selection.

Assistant GM Keith Grant told Chris Kirschner of the Athletic that the Mavs would have liked to add another young piece to the Doncic-Kristaps Porzingis nucleus. Still, the team views last year’s trade as a win for both parties.

“We actually do believe that,” Grant said about both teams getting the guy they wanted. “We evaluated every player and thought Luka was our guy. Atlanta obviously had Trae as theirs, and so we had a deal.”

The trade between Dallas and Atlanta had been agreed to prior to the actual draft but was contingent on both Doncic and Trae Young being available at No. 3 and No. 5, respectively.

The Hawks are armed with two top-10 draft selections in this year’s draft and Kirschner passes along more from Atlanta:

  • It would be surprising if the Hawks didn’t pick a wing, assuming they stay at the No. 8 spot, Kirschner hears from sources within the organization. Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver has been linked to Atlanta but it’s hard to envision him falling out of the top seven.
  • Zion Williamson and Ja Morant are widely expected to be the top two picks in the draft. One Hawks executive told Kirschner that he expects three other players—R.J. Barrett, Darius Garland, and Coby White—to be unavailable when Atlanta makes its first selection at No. 8. The Suns and Bulls both covet upgrades at the point guard spot and Garland and White are the best available after Morant.
  • The Hawks have interest in Cam Reddish. While he failed to live up to lofty expectations at Duke, there’s “not much doubt” within Atlanta’s organization that playing alongside Young, John Collins, and Kevin Huerter would allow him to reach his potential, Kirschner adds.
  • Coach Lloyd Pierce prefers a center who can stretch the floor but that wouldn’t stop the team from selecting Jaxson Hayes if he’s the best player on the board at No. 10. “Roster building isn’t always about trying to perfectly pair up guys,” a source tells Kirschner.
  • Multiple sources tell Kirschner that the team likes Bruno Fernando out of Maryland. The big man likely isn’t in play with one of the Hawks‘ two top-10 selections, but the franchise holds three second-round picks (No. 35, No. 41, No. 44).

NBA Announces 2018/19 All-Rookie Teams

The NBA has officially announced its All-Rookie teams for the 2018/19 season. Luka Doncic of the Mavericks and Trae Young of the Hawks – widely viewed as the only two legit contenders for this season’s Rookie of the Year award – were also the only two players to be unanimously selected to the First Team, receiving 100 out of 100 possible votes.

Suns center Deandre Ayton nearly joined them as another unanimous First Team pick. However, he was listed on the Second Team on five ballots, with 95 First Team votes. Kings forward Marvin Bagley was the only other player to be named on all 100 ballots, receiving 56 First Team votes.

Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. rounded out the First Team, ensuring that all five players in that group were top-five picks in the 2018 draft.

Listed below are the NBA’s All-Rookie teams for 2018/19, with the player’s vote total in parentheses. Players received two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote.

First Team:

Second Team:

Of the players who missed out on All-Rookie honors, Suns forward Mikal Bridges came the closest, with 31 points, followed by Knicks forward Kevin Knox (22 points). None of the 10 other rookies who earned votes earned more than 12 points, though Josh Okogie (Timberwolves) and Miles Bridges (Hornets) each received one First Team vote.

The full voting results can be found within the NBA’s press release.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Deandre Ayton, Luka Doncic and Trae Young are the finalists for the Rookie of the Year award, while Lou Williams heads the field for the Sixth Man award. His Clippers teammate, Montrezl Harrell, and Domantas Sabonis are the other finalists.

Antetokounmpo and George are also finalists for the Defensive Player of the Year award along with Rudy GobertDe’Aaron Fox, D’Angelo Russell and Pascal Siakam will vie for the Most Improved Player honor, while Mike Budenholzer, Michael Malone and Doc Rivers received the most votes for the Coach of the Year award.

Pacific Notes: Looney, Lakers, Suns, Kings

When it comes to Warriors players facing free agency this summer, the focus has rightly been on Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, but those aren’t the only players on the roster with expiring contracts.

One key role player up for a new deal this offseason is Kevon Looney, who played regular minutes at center this season as DeMarcus Cousins and Damian Jones dealt with injuries. Now, his role has increased once again with Cousins expected to miss the rest of the playoffs, perhaps putting him in a position to boost his value as he nears free agency.

The Warriors hold Looney’s Bird rights, allowing the team to go over the cap to re-sign him. But if Thompson and Durant return, it’s not clear how high Golden State would be willing to go to retain a role player. Asked about Looney’s upcoming free agency, teammate Andre Iguodala acknowledged that a more lucrative payday may await the youngster elsewhere.

“I hope he gets paid,” Iguodala said, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic (video link). “So I hope he doesn’t come back because I hope he gets all the money.”

Here’s more out of the Pacific:

  • Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka met with Sixers assistant Monty Williams earlier this week to discuss the club’s head coaching vacancy, and there’s an expectation on both sides that a second visit will occur at some point, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Williams is one of three known candidates for the Lakers’ job, along with Tyronn Lue and Juwan Howard.
  • The Suns‘ approach to the offseason will hinge largely on where the team’s first-round pick lands in the lottery, as Gina Mizell of The Athletic explains. Mizell sketches out multiple potential paths for Phoenix’s offseason — one that involves Zion Williamson, one featuring Ja Morant, and one in which the Suns land outside the top two in the draft.
  • In a story published shortly after Dave Joerger was let go by the Kings, Jason Jones of The Athletic passes along some fascinating tidbits on Joerger’s tenure in Sacramento. According to Jones, Joerger never really seemed to connect with youngsters Marvin Bagley III and Harry Giles, favorites of the front office. Sources also told Jones that Joerger favored drafting Luka Doncic over Bagley, and would have been on board with trading Buddy Hield before the 2018/19 season.

Mavs Notes: Powell, Barea, Dirk, Porzingis

Mavericks big man Dwight Powell enjoyed a career year in 2018/19, establishing new career-highs in PPG (10.6) and FG% (.597) to go along with 5.3 RPG in a part-time role. Now, he’ll have to make a decision on a $10.26MM player option for 2019/20.

Speaking on Thursday to reporters, including Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link), Powell said, “I definitely want to be here.” However, he didn’t offer specifics on whether that meant picking up his player option or opting out and negotiating a new deal with Dallas. Even exercising his option and then working out a contract extension could be a possibility.

For their part, the Mavericks intend to do all they can to make sure Powell sticks with the team “for years to come,” president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said on Thursday (Twitter link via Townsend). According to Jeff Cavanaugh of 105.3 The Fan (Twitter link), owner Mark Cuban went a step further, suggesting during a radio appearance that the club plans to extend Powell for three seasons.

Nothing’s official yet, so while we wait to see what sort of agreement Powell and the Mavs might reach, let’s round up a few more items out of Dallas…

  • Veteran guard J.J. Barea continues to recover from a significant Achilles injury, but it sounds like the free-agent-to-be expects to be back with the Mavericks, as Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com relays (via Twitter). “I know what they want. They know what I want,” Barea said. “We’ll figure it out.”
  • Discussing his decision to retire earlier this week, Dirk Nowitzki said he just recently finalized his decision, adding that his ongoing foot issues helped cement his decision. “It just doesn’t make any sense to do that for one more season,” Nowitzki said, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Saad Yousuf of The Athletic, meanwhile, offers an entertaining oral history of Nowitzki’s final home game in Dallas.
  • Could Nowitzki become involved in the Mavericks’ ownership group during his retirement? Both he and Mark Cuban appear to be open to the idea, as Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com writes.
  • Kristaps Porzingis will be the Mavericks’ “No. 1 priority” this offseason, Donnie Nelson said on Thursday. Head coach Rick Carlisle intends to visit Latvia and Slovenia this summer to see Porzingis and Luka Doncic (Twitter links via Townsend).

Southeast Notes: Green, Wade, Young, Heat

Jeff Green has played for six teams since the 2014/15 season and he’d like to stay put for a change. The veteran forward said he “would love to come back” to the Wizards, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets. Green is averaging 12.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 1.8 APG for Washington. Green, 32, signed a one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Wizards last summer and will be an unrestricted free agent once again.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • Heat guard Dwyane Wade said he’ll probably need a therapist after he retires at the end of the season, as he told Rachel Nichols of ESPN“It is going to be a big change. This is what I know, like, my life has been this,” he said. “I told my wife I need to do therapy and we need to do a little bit. I was always against someone that don’t know me telling me how to live my life or giving me instructions. But I need someone to talk to about it. Because it is a big change.”
  • Hawks point guard Trae Young hopes that voters look at the body of work when deciding the Rookie of the Year award, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today reports. Luka Doncic looked like the runaway victor but Young’s strong second half has made it a much closer race. “This is a season-long award,” Young said. “Early on, everybody was saying (Doncic) was Rookie of the Year and deservedly so. He was playing really well, and I wasn’t playing the best. I was still playing well. In the second half, it’s flipped. … If you do a full-season look, it’s definitely closer than some people think.”
  • The Heat need to add another player to the roster by Sunday to get back to 14 on the 15-player roster, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel points out. They might even add two players and could convert the two-way contracts of Duncan Robinson and Yante Maten to standard contracts to make them playoff eligible. However, that would also boost their qualifying offers from $50K to $1.4MM apiece, Winderman notes.

Southwest Notes: Valanciunas, Spurs, Doncic, Miller

Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas is done for the season after suffering a grade II right ankle sprain during Sunday’s game against the Clippers, the team announced on Monday. While the veteran big man won’t suit up again, he made a strong first impression in Memphis after coming over in a February trade, averaging 19.9 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 2.2 APG, and 1.6 BPG in his first 19 games (27.7 MPG) with the team.

Of course, as Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian notes, there’s no guarantee Valanciunas will be back with the Grizzlies next season. He has a player option for 2019/20, which means he could opt out and elect to sign elsewhere. Still, in an examination of the free agent market for centers, Herrington makes the case that that’s an unlikely scenario. A more probable outcome would involve Valanciunas opting into his $17.6MM salary for next season, or reaching a deal on a longer-term extension with Memphis.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • It has been a week and a half since the Spurs were said to be nearing a deal with Donatas Motiejunas, and Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas tweets that visa issues are holding up an agreement (hat tip to Sportando). The Spurs have gotten involved to try to push the process along, per Urbonas. That’s an indication that San Antonio still wants to get Motiejunas on its roster before the end of the regular season.
  • Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and GM R.C. Buford are two of the longest-tenured high-level executives in the NBA, in part due to their strong relationship with team ownership. As Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News details, with a new generation of the Holt family set to succeed their parents Julianna Hawn Holt and Peter M. Holt on the Spurs’ board of managers, Popovich and Buford are expecting a smooth transition. “We have full confidence in them,” Popovich said of siblings Peter J. Holt and Corrina Holt Richter. “They’re really intelligent, hard-working people who understand the organization. They’ve grown up with it.”
  • Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic has missed the team’s last two games with a right leg injury, but head coach Rick Carlisle remains hopeful that Doncic will get back on the court before the end of the season, writes Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News.
  • Pelicans swingman Darius Miller is dealing with a grade 1 left adductor strain, and isn’t a lock to return to the court this season. The team announced last Friday that Miller will be sidelined for a week or two.

Knicks Offered Porzingis To Kings For Fox

With Luka Doncic on the draft board, the Kings received several offers for De’Aaron Fox last June, including one from the Knicks that included Kristaps Porzingis, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN. Sources tell Lowe that New York was asking for additional assets along with Fox or would have required Sacramento to take on some unwanted salary.

That trade and others never materialized because the Kings didn’t want to move down and risk losing Marvin Bagley III. They also weren’t interested in taking Doncic because they didn’t want to interfere with Fox’s development as a playmaker.

“I like Luka,” GM Vlade Divac said, “but we didn’t want to overload with players who — maybe they don’t have the exact same characteristics, but if you want to develop the guys you have, you have to make sure they have room to develop.”

Fox has rewarded their confidence, posting a 17.4/3.8/7.2 line in his second NBA season and putting himself in the running for Most Improved Player. He also sparked a turnaround for the Kings that had them in contention for their first playoff berth in more than a decade before tailing off.

Sacramento’s front office will face some important decisions soon about how to build for the future, Lowe notes. Fox, Bagley and Harry Giles are all in their early 20s. Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes, who was acquired from the Mavericks last month, are all 26 with free agency looming next summer. Willie Cauley-Stein will be a restricted free agent in July, and Lowe suggests that his defensive shortcomings should make the Kings pass on matching any offer that exceeds the mid-level exception of about $9MM.

Divac isn’t concerned about the gap in the timeline or the danger of losing any key pieces in free agency.

“I would be if Foxy, Harry and Marvin weren’t better than people think,” he said. “They will be ready earlier. And if they are not, they are still the core. We will surround them with players who will help them get to the next level.”

Pacific Notes: Bagley, Lakers, Fredette, Bibbs

The Kings have taken a lot of criticism for passing on Luka Doncic with the No. 2 pick last June and selecting Marvin Bagley III instead but head coach Dave Joerger says the franchise made the right decision, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee writes.

“I think you look (at) — especially high picks — to me, just take the best player you can get, and I think we got the best player,” the Kings’ coach said. “I just think the sky’s the limit for Marvin, and I don’t know how high Luka’s (ceiling) is. I think he’s had a terrific season. I’ve enjoyed watching him, (but) we’re fired up about our guy. You talk about just scraping the tip of what he can do talent-wise. I think it’s going to be really fun to be around him for a long, long time.”

We have more from around the Pacific Division:

  • Many people believe the ill-fated pursuit of Anthony Davis wrecked the Lakers’ season, but they blame injuries for their downfall, as Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register reports. “Throughout the whole season we just had bodies and bodies and bodies and bodies be down,” LeBron James said. “And it’s just hard for us to have any type of rhythm, any type of camraderie, and type of chemistry on the floor when (Coach Luke Walton) has to play with the lineups over and over and over and try to figure out different scenarios on the court to be successful.”
  • Jimmer Fredette‘s representatives had spoken with the Suns numerous times this season before they offered him a contract, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic reports. Fredette signed a contract last week for the remainder of the season with a team option for 2019/20. He played 43 games in China with the Shanghai Sharks, averaging a league-high 36.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 5.4 APG, and 2.6 SPG. “The Phoenix Suns were very interested,” he said. “Spoke with their (interim) GM (James Jones). Towards the end of the season, we wanted to make it happen.” 
  • Guard Justin Bibbs has yet to make his NBA debut but he’s thrilled about his opportunity with the Clippers, David Yapkowitz of Basketball Insiders writes. Bibbs signed a second 10-day contract with the club on Saturday but he’s been playing on their G League affiliate, the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario. “I’m happy that my play has been rewarded, that the organization believed in me enough to give me a 10-day. Its motivation for me to keep going,” Bibbs said.

Mavs Notes: Vucevic, Doncic, Powell, Nowitzki

Magic center Nikola Vucevic praised Mavericks star Luka Doncic following their game on Friday, noting how impressive it is for Doncic to have such a high basketball IQ at just the age of 20.

Vucevic, who’s in the midst of his best NBA season to date, will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. His close relationship with Doncic could give the Mavericks an edge if they pursue Vucevic in free agency, especially if the Magic were to give an underwhelming offer.

“I got to know him a little bit at the All-Star game and when we played in Dallas – and also at the European championship, that’s where I first met him,” Vucevic said of Doncic, as relayed by Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News.

“I’m happy to see him do well. He’s a great kid and a great player and I’m very excited for him. I have to say, I didn’t expect him to play this well, this soon, as a rookie, especially a guy from Europe. But he’s been playing amazing. Obviously I always knew he would eventually get there because he’s very smart and with his skill-set and his I.Q., I know there’s really nothing he can’t do.

“He’s going to be a great player for the Mavs for a long time.”

The Mavericks’ first priority this summer is to re-sign restricted free agent Kristaps Porzingis, but Vucevic has been identified as a possible outside target. The veteran center is averaging a career-best 20.6 points, 12 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 31.3 games with Orlando this year.

There’s more out of Dallas today:

  • Mavs forward Dwight Powell could be a keeper for the club in the coming years, team play-by-play announcer Chuck Cooperstein said this week on ESPN Dallas 103.3. Powell has improved his three-point shooting and play-making since entering the league, with the 27-year-old holding a $10.2MM player option for the 2019/20 season. He’s averaged a career-high 9.8 points in 61 contests this season.
  • Tickets for the Mavericks’ final home game this season are noticeably more expensive than most other games, Brad Townsend notes in a different story for the Dallas Morning News. Unless he chooses to return for another season, it would be the final time Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki takes the court after a 21-year career in Dallas. Tickets are ranging from $145 for an upper-deck seat to $7,785 for a VIP courtside seat, according to Townsend. “That is a lot of money,” Nowitzki said. “That’s awesome, though. That means people want to come to that game. It’s amazing to hear about the support.”
  • Nowitzki isn’t interested in becoming an NBA head coach after his playing career despite having two decades of experience in the league, Dwain Price of Mavs.com writes. “Maybe like individual stuff, working with guys on skills, skill development, player development type stuff,” Nowitzki said. “I think that I would enjoy that, and I think obviously I’ve got some experience there. But head coaching? It’s just something that I’m not real interested in.”