Malcolm Delaney

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Zeller, Hezonja

The battle for the Wizards‘ final regular season roster spot figures to come down to Donald Sloan and Carrick Felix, and head coach Scott Brooks calls it one of the “toughest” roster decisions he’s had to make in recent years, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. The decision may ultimately come down to what sort of player the Wizards want to keep around, since Sloan, a veteran point guard, and Felix, an athletic swingman, would play different roles.

In theory, the Wizards could keep both players on the roster. The team only has 13 players on fully guaranteed contracts, leaving two openings. However, a 14th player – Sheldon Mac – has been ruled out for most or all of the season with a torn Achilles, and Washington will be on the hook for his salary until he recovers, whether or not he’s on the roster. By waiving him and keeping both Sloan and Felix, the Wizards would essentially be paying 16 players, an undesirable outcome for a club already well over the luxury-tax line.

Here’s more from around the Southeast division:

  • Having signed a new four-year extension with the Heat this offseason, Josh Richardson is now determined to bounce back from an injury-plagued 2016/17 season, as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel writes.
  • The offseason arrival of Dwight Howard supplanted Cody Zeller from the starting lineup, but the Hornets‘ backup center remains valuable to the team as he enters the first year of a new contract. Sam Perley of Hornets.com has the story on Zeller.
  • Mario Hezonja, 2015’s fifth overall pick, took a step backward during his second NBA season last year. However, he has been solid in the preseason as he looks to cement a role in the Magic‘s rotation, says John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com.
  • Backup Hawks point guard Malcolm Delaney spoke to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype about making the leap to the NBA last year, his decision to join the Hawks, and his expectations for Atlanta in 2017/18. “With our system and the way we move the ball, we could surprise a lot of people,” Delaney said. “My goal is always going to be to win. I don’t believe in rebuilding. I certainly don’t believe in tanking. I’m going out to win every game because this is my contract year and I’ve gotten to this point because of winning.”

Southeast Notes: Winslow, Oubre, Calderon, Delaney

Justise Winslow turned 21 on Sunday, spending his birthday away from the team as he continues to recover from a torn right labrum. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra used the occasion to point out Winslow’s potential, while mentioning the character he’s built at this stage of his career.

“He still has had a productive year of improvement,” Spoelstra told Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. “A summer of improvement, where he and J-Rich [Josh Richardson] were two of the top five players in the Orlando summer league; his summer improvement in August and September; the kind of preseason he had was terrific. Then he got hurt with his wrist. Going through all of that, I think, is important for a young player, and even going through adversity, can find a silver lining out of this. Even though it’s not ideal, it does develop character.”

More from the Southeast…

  • Scott Brooks has given Kelly Oubre chances to earn a spot in his rotation, unlike former Wizards coach Randy Wittman. According to J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic, Brooks has limited Oubre’s usage during “undisciplined” stretches, but Kelly’s role as a wing defender has emerged in 2016/17. “The game for Kelly, to me, is simple. Just compete,” Brooks said. “Deflections. Getting into the passing lanes. Contesting at the rim. Switching on our pick-and-roll coverage because he can guard one through four depending on the matchup and then rebound. The game rewards him when he does that.”
  • The Hawks are still evaluating backup point guards after acquiring Jose Calderon, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution writes. Calderon received minutes in each of his first five games following the trade, only for Malcolm Delaney to recently supplant him for the role of primary back-up. “We are excited about both of them,” Mike Budenholzer said. “I think they both can help us. I think it was great to give Jose a five-game stretch. Now, we are probably at a four- or five-game stretch for Malcolm. We’ll continue to look at that. We are considering both and think both will be helpful.”

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Wall, Beal, McRoberts

The Hawks haven’t settled on their point guard rotation for the rest of the season, according to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Jose Calderon, who was claimed off waivers earlier this month, has been the backup to Dennis Schroder in the past four games, but that doesn’t mean the job is his to keep. Coach Mike Budenholzer said Malcolm Delaney, who had the role before Calderon arrived, will also be part of the mix. “No doubt that Jose has been great,” Budenholzer said. “Jose is so positive and talking and in Dennis’ face, in everybody’s face. He’s like wow. To have both of those guys, I wouldn’t under-sell what Malcolm does. I think he’s been real good next to Dennis.”

There’s more news from the Southeast Division:

  • Wizards point guard John Wall is downplaying claims that he and backcourt partner Bradley Beal had a strained relationship. In an interview with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Wall says much of the dissension stemmed from a misunderstanding over Beal’s contract talks. “Everybody said I tried to play him or something. I was watching his money. I was mad. That wasn’t it,” Wall said. “All I said was, ‘Let him be healthy. Let him earn his money.’ It’s the same way they said I didn’t earn my money. ‘How did he get $80 million? He didn’t deserve it.’ But then all of the sudden when everybody was getting paid, nobody was saying nothing.” Beal agreed to a five-year, $127MM contract last summer.
  • Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld reached out to the Nets in the trade that sent Bojan Bogdanovic to Washington, tweets NetsDaily.com. Brooklyn was hoping for a first-round pick in return and wound up with Washington’s first-rounder along with Andrew Nicholson and Marcus Thornton in exchange for Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough.
  • A stress fracture in his left foot has kept Heat forward Josh McRoberts out of action since December 27th, but he still might play this season, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Coach Erik Spoelstra offered an update today, saying, “He’s on the court a little bit now, and we’ll just have to see how he progresses.” McRoberts missed the preseason with a stress reaction in the foot, then returned to start 14 straight games before being sidelined again. He has a player option for 2017/18 worth slightly more than $6MM.

Budenholzer Unsure Of Team’s Backup Point Guard

Jose Calderon is in uniform and ready to play for the Hawks, but Mike Budenholzer is not ready to label him the team’s primary backup point guard. According to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Budenholzer would like to see Calderon compete with Malcolm Delaney for minutes.

“It’s hard to say. I think Malcolm has been great all year,” Budenholzer said. “I think Malcolm has been great all year. We are really pleased with how he’s played. Malcolm brings a lot to the table. But I think it’s great to have Jose as another … to get through the majority of the season without a third point guard is unusual.”

Calderon served as a low-stakes addition to Atlanta’s backcourt; the 35-year-old will only cost the team $247,991. The Hawks picked up Calderon in time for him to be playoff eligible, but the veteran will presumably need to make more of an impact than he did on the Lakers. As Vivlamore points out, Delaney has appeared in all 62 games for the Hawks this season, serving as Dennis Schroder‘s primary back-up.

“I think Jose is someone who can come in and fight for those minutes,” Budenholzer added. “I can see giving him an opportunity and chances to see how he can help us but Malcolm has been very, very good.”

Hawks Notes: Howard, Koonin, Reserves

The addition of center Dwight Howard and a change in coach Mike Budenholzer’s approach has dramatically improved the Hawks’ offensive rebounding, KL Chouinard of the team’s website relays. The Hawks ranked at the bottom in the NBA in that category last season but sit No. 3 in the early going. Howard leads the league with a 4.9 offensive rebounding average, as the Hawks’ bigs have been given greater freedom to pursue those caroms, Chouinard adds. “I would call it a slight tweak or an emphasis, but not at the expense of transition defense,” Budenholzer told Chouinard. “[It’s] an emphasis of ‘Can we be better on the offensive boards? Can we take advantage of who we have and be more committed there?’ I think the guys have done a nice job of doing that and they have been rewarded.”

In other news regarding the Hawks:
  • CEO Steve Koonin signed a new three-year contract with the team this summer, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Koonin signed a contract with the previous ownership group in April 2014. Principal owner Tony Ressler, who purchased the team in June 2015, decided to keep Koonin on board. He oversees the team’s business, financial and strategic operations, Vivlamore adds.
  • The Hawks didn’t spend heavily on their reserves but that unit is paying big dividends, Vivlamore writes in a separate story. Swingman Thabo Sefolosha ($3.85MM salary this season) ranks second in the league in steals (2.6 per game), sixth in field goal percentage (60.0) and sixth in plus/minus rating (plus-78) despite averaging 25 minutes per game. Big man Mike Muscala ($1MM) leads the league in field goal percentage at 66%, while guards Malcolm Delaney ($2.5MM) and Tim Hardaway Jr. rank among the top 20 in plus/minus rating. “Everyone on this team can play, a guy in the starting five, a guy from the bench, everybody can contribute big time,” Sefolosha told Vivlamore. “Different night, different guy steps up.”

Southeast Notes: Mahinmi, Hibbert, Hawks

After having started just 21 of his 367 career NBA games before last season, Ian Mahinmi was elevated to a more significant role by the Pacers, and started all 71 of the games he played for the team in 2015/16. Mahinmi parlayed his solid year in Indiana into one of the more impressive free agent contracts of the summer — Timofey Mozgov‘s four-year, $64MM deal with the Lakers drew plenty of headlines and criticism while Mahinmi’s identical contract with the Wizards flew under the radar, by comparison.

As Candace Buckner of The Washington Post details, Mahinmi’s lucrative new contract means the Wizards are expecting big things from their new center, who says he’s still getting comfortable in Washington. “I feel like I’m back with my first year with the Pacers,” Mahinmi said. “I didn’t know [many people], but… I had to [take it] one day at time and show that you can rely on me, that I’m going to be there for them on and off the court. This is how I feel right now. It’s not the easiest thing to deal with, but I’ve done it before, so I’m going to be all right.”

Here’s more from around the NBA’s Southeast division:

  • The Wizards made some major changes to their roster this summer, but ultimately they’ll still go as far as John Wall can take them, writes Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders.
  • The Hornets signed Roy Hibbert this offseason primarily for his defense and his ability to protect the rim, but the team has been pleasantly surprised by other areas of his game, says Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. “He can really pass, which I didn’t realize,” head coach Steve Clifford said. “He’s got a feel for the game. He knows how to play. And you see it more around here every day.”
  • Malcolm Delaney, who signed a two-year, $5MM deal with the Hawks in the offseason, isn’t a typical rookie, writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Delaney, who is 27 years old and spent the last five seasons playing overseas, tells Vivlamore that he feels like he belongs in the NBA.
  • In a separate AJC piece, Vivlamore notes that no roster cuts appear imminent for the Hawks, who aren’t in any rush to reduce their roster to 15 players.

Southeast Notes: Wall, Beal, Hibbert, Magic

During the Wizards‘ media day on Monday, John Wall walked back his comments from August when he told reporters that he and teammate Bradley Beal “have a tendency to dislike each other on the court,” Candace Buckner of The Washington Post writes. “Whenever you have your two best players and they both want the game-winning shot and they want those types of plays, you’re going to have disagreements on the court. But other than that, we’re fine,” Wall told the media. “We talk. We’ve talked about it. We’re both two grown men. Everybody wants us to dislike each other. No, we don’t dislike each other. It’s just at times any team that has two great players [or] players who want to be great, we’re going to have disagreements from time to time.

For his part, Beal said he never took offense at Wall’s comments, likening their relationship to that of brothers, Buckner notes. “Sometimes you don’t always get along with your bigger brother or your little brother but you love them at the end of the day. They’re family. That’s how John and I are,” Beal said. “We don’t always agree on the court. You’re not always going to agree with Coach [Scott] Brooks and something that he says but at the end of the day, we’re backcourt mates, we’re teammates, we’re the two leaders of the team. We’re going to help win us games.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic are hunting for a location for their new D-League affiliate to call home, with the two finalists being Kissimmee’s Silver Spurs Arena and The Lakeland Center, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel reports. The team expects to finalize its decision within the next month, Robbins adds. “We’re still in final discussions with both, and both have been asked to address some specific issues that we need answers for and direction on,” CEO Alex Martins said. “I believe that within the next 30 days we’ll have a decision made.
  • Center Roy Hibbert is trying to salvage his career after signing a one-year, $5MM with the Hornets this offseason. Assistant coach Patrick Ewing has taken the big man under his wing, believing that much of Hibbert’s decline stems from him buying into the talk that the changes to the game have made him obsolete, Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer writes. “I think it’s probably mostly mental,” Ewing said of Hibbert. “I know everybody is talking about how the game has changed. I think he’s kind of bought into that.”
  • Hawks coach/executive Mike Budenholzer weighed in with his early impressions of rookies Malcolm Delaney, Taurean Prince and DeAndre Bembry, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution relays.

Hawks Sign Malcolm Delaney

JULY 15: The Hawks have formally signed Delaney, the club announced today in a press release. Delaney’s salary has been reported as $2.5MM, though it’s unclear if that figure represents the total value of his contract, or his per-year salary.

JULY 3: The Hawks and combo guard Malcolm Delaney have agreed to a guaranteed two-year deal, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets.

The former Virginia Tech guard played overseas for the last several years and turned down a two-year, $5MM offer from Barcelona in the hopes of landing with an NBA team this year last month, reports Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops.net. The Nets and Rockets were reportedly interested in Delaney in May, but neither team pulled the trigger on a deal.

Delaney went undrafted in 2011, and the closest he has come to NBA action was a summer league stint with the Pistons in 2012, though he was involved in discussions with the Rockets in 2014, but ended up heading overseas to play in Germany instead. In 58 combined games this past season, Delaney averaged 14.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 30.9 minutes per outing. His shooting line on the season was .409/.361/.871.

Contract Details: Plumlee, Rodriguez, Vasquez

Here’s the latest contract details and notes from around the league:

And-Ones: Dunn, Zubac, Delaney, Offseason

While Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are the consensus top two prospects in this year’s draft class, in some order, ESPN’s Chad Ford is surprised by how much teams’ boards vary from Nos. 3 through 8. According to Ford, every player out of the second-tier group that includes Kris Dunn, Jamal Murray, Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss, Jaylen Brown, and Buddy Hield ranks as high as No. 3 on at least one club’s board and as low as No. 8 on another board. Of those six players though, Dunn appears third on the most boards, per Ford.

Let’s round up a few more odds and ends from across the NBA…

  • The sports agency formerly known as Relativity Sports is being relaunched as Independent Sports and Entertainment, with billionaire Ron Burkle tabbing former Madison Square Garden CEO Hank Ratner to lead the company, reports Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg Sports. The group has retained several top agents and over 300 MLB, NFL, and NBA clients.
  • Croatian big man Ivica Zubac, who worked out for the Pistons today, has also gotten a look from the Grizzlies and Celtics, and has a workout on tap with the Raptors, tweets Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. According to Langlois, Zubac chose those four teams because they had shown the most interest in him.
  • Former Virginia Tech guard Malcolm Delaney, who has played overseas for the last several years, turned down a two-year, $5MM offer from Barcelona in the hopes of landing with an NBA team this year, reports Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops.net. If Delaney can’t find the right NBA situation, he may end up in China, where he has a “huge offer” on the table, per Varlas.
  • In a piece for The Vertical, former Nets executive Bobby Marks examines how teams prepare for the draft, from setting a draft board to medical reviews to trade talks.
  • ESPN’s Kevin Pelton identifies five key offseason storylines to watch in the coming days and weeks.
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