Marco Belinelli

Southwest Notes: Anthony, Harden, Westbrook, Belinelli, Payton

Carmelo Anthony has not been on an NBA roster since last November when his Rockets tenure abruptly ended after a 10-game stint. Ever since then, Anthony has been searching for one more opportunity to prolong his Hall of Fame career — which has yet to arise.

In an in-depth feature, ESPN’s Baxter Holmes examines Anthony’s situation from the day he was cut to the present. Carmelo’s story is one of a declining star who has struggled to adjust from his usual role of a primary scorer to a role player.

Holmes also spoke to several team sources who noted that Anthony’s reputation exceeded his current abilities, which put Houston in a tough situation.

Check out more Southwest Division notes:

  • The Rockets‘ major storyline this season will be the reunion of James Harden and Russell Westbrook, as observers keep a close eye on how the two former MVPs play together. Harden says both superstars will need to rely on each other for the team to succeed, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. “At the end of the day, we need each other,” Harden said. “This thing won’t work without each other.” 
  • In his second tour of duty with the Rockets, Ryan Anderson, primarily known as a long-range shooter, may see significant time at center, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. “It’s definitely a role we talked about here,” Anderson said. “I think it’s something I can be really effective at. This team can play in a lot of different ways. I think center could be a good title now.”
  • Knicks point guard Elfrid Payton said the Pelicans were interested in bringing him back but the situation in New York fit him better, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. “They asked me to come back,’’ Payton said. “I just felt this was a better situation. It was a better fit. [The acquisition of Lonzo Ball] had no effect. I’m not afraid of competition.’’
  • Spurs shooting guard Marco Belinelli misses former assistant coach Ettore Messina, who left San Antonio this past summer to become the head coach of Italian team Pallacanestro Olimpia Milano, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News writes. “For sure, I miss him. He was very happy here in San Antonio, but I am really happy for him,” Belinelli said.

Germany, Italy, Others Finalize World Cup Rosters

We’re just two days away from FIBA’s 2019 World Cup officially tipping off, and more national teams have officially set their 12-man rosters for the event, including a pair of countries whose squads will feature multiple NBA players.

Team Germany made its final cut this week, dropping Wizards youngster Isaac Bonga from its roster. Even without Bonga on the team, there are plenty of familiar faces for NBA fans — Dennis Schroder (Thunder), Daniel Theis (Celtics), and Maxi Kleber (Mavericks) will represent Germany in this year’s tournament.

The Italian national team, meanwhile, will be led by Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari and Spurs sharpshooter Marco Belinelli. Former NBA forward Gigi Datome and 2014 second-round pick Alessandro Gentile are also part of Italy’s squad.

Here are more details on teams that have established their 12-man World Cup rosters:

World Cup Notes: Kuzma, Barnes, Belinelli, K. Antetokounmpo

Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma helped his bid to earn a World Cup roster spot in Team USA’s exhibition opener, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Playing in front of front of a partisan crowd in Anaheim that chanted for him every time he touched the ball, Kuzma contributed seven points, five rebounds and three assists in Friday’s win over Spain.

Kuzma is considered on the bubble to make the final roster, even after a series of big-name stars pulled out. He says he’s following the orders of coaches Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr, who have asked him to contribute in non-glamorous parts of the game such as defense, rebounding, getting loose balls and making the right decision when the ball is in his hands.

“I’m not one to really grade my performances, but I think my energy was at a high level,” Kuzma said after the game. “That’s the only thing I can really control.”

There’s more World Cup news to pass along:

  • Defections of top talent have led to skepticism about whether this version of Team USA can bring home a gold medal, but Harrison Barnes tells Marc Spears of ESPN that the players are using that as motivation. De’Aaron Fox and P.J. Tucker were the latest players to announce that they’re leaving the team“We hear the noise,” Barnes said. “It’s just about the 14 guys that we got here right now, and when we go to Australia (for exhibition games), it’s about just us, getting better, continuing to grow closer on and off the floor, and we’ll go from there.”
  • Italy is adopting a similar attitude about being ranked 11th in the field, relays Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando. Spurs guard Marco Belinelli explained the team’s mindset in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport. “I’ve seen it on Instagram and immediately took a screenshot, saving it on my phone”, Belinelli said, “We’re not in the top 10, I’ll keep it as motivation. We have to grow as a team, both on offense and defense, and help each other out on the rebounds.”
  • Kostas Antetokounmpo has been cut from the Greek squad, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. The move leaves the team with just two Antetokounmpo brothers, Giannis and Thanasis. It has been an eventful summer for Kostas, who was waived by the Mavericks last month and claimed by the Lakers.

Western Notes: Lakers, Barnes, Rockets, Belinelli

Two major factors related to the Anthony Davis deal will contribute to how much cap room the Lakers have available in free agency this summer. One is the timing of the trade’s completion, while the other is Davis’ trade bonus.

While we don’t yet have definitive word on when the Lakers and Pelicans will finalize the AD blockbuster, early reports suggest it will likely happen on July 6, which would cut into L.A.’s projected cap space by several million dollars. If Davis chooses not to waive his trade bonus, that would reduce the Lakers’ flexibility by about another $4MM, and ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne views that as the most likely scenario, as she said on The Jump on Monday (video link).

“My understanding is he doesn’t intend to waive that [bonus],” Shelburne said. “He’s due the $4MM and he’s going to keep it.”

Shelburne acknowledges that “things could change” before the deal is officially completed, but if the Lakers finalize the trade on July 6 and Davis gets his $4MM trade bonus, it would leave L.A. with about $23.7MM in cap room, not nearly enough for a maximum-salary contract.

Let’s round up a few more notes and updates from around the Western Conference…

  • While Harrison Barnes will turn down his $25MM+ player option for the 2019/20 season, the Kings are confident they’ll be able to keep Barnes in the mix with a new long-term contract, a source tells James Ham of NBC Sports California.
  • Kelly Iko of the Athletic examines and downplays the rumors of discord between Rockets stars James Harden and Chris Paul. “If it’s the middle of September and issues aren’t resolved, then that would be different, but it’s not,” a team source told Iko. “Chris and James want to win a championship.”
  • After Spurs assistant Ettore Messina accepted a job running Olimpia Milano as their president and head coach, veteran guard Marco Belinelli was asked if he’d consider joining Messina in Italy, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Belinelli didn’t rule out the possibility down the road, but said he’d like to sign at least one more NBA contract after his deal with San Antonio expires in 2020.
  • Tony Jones and Omari Sankofa II of The Athletic dig into whether there’s a match for a Mike Conley trade between the Jazz and Grizzlies.

And-Ones: Silver, Mock Draft, Players’ Poll, Belinelli

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is willing to consider shortening the regular season and even the length of games, he said in a press conference on Friday. Silver’s comments were relayed by the Associated Press’ Brian Mahoney“The format we have in place now — I’m a traditionalist on one hand, but on the other hand it’s 50 years old or so, presenting an 82-game season, and there’s nothing magical about it,” Silver said. He also tossed out the idea of reducing the length of games from 48 minutes to 40, the same as college and international games. Holding mid-season tournaments is something else he’s willing to consider. None of the potential changes are close to be implemented, Mahoney adds.

We have more from the basketball world:

Latest On Jimmy Butler Trade To Philadelphia

The Timberwolves and Sixers agreed on Saturday to one of the biggest trades in recent years. Jimmy Butler is headed to Philadelphia, while Dario Saric and Robert Covington headline the package that Minnesota is receiving.

We have more news to pass along on this blockbuster:

  • Butler had shown an interest in Philadelphia long before Saturday. Butler scheduled a free agent meeting with the Sixers  in 2015, when they were still in the early stages of building a contender, before he re-signed with the Bulls, Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated tweets.
  • If Butler agrees to a max contract with Philadelphia, Markelle Fultz‘s long-term prospects with the organization would be in serious doubt, Zach Lowe of ESPN tweets. There are plenty of other questions regarding how Fultz fits with core group that Philadelphia has assembled and the team’s brass will closely monitor how all the personalities mesh, Lowe adds. The top 2017 pick is averaging just 8.9 PPG and 3.6 APG  in 24.3 MPG and will now have to compete with another All-Star for touches.
  • Minnesota avoided sending Butler to a Western Conference contender, one of the goals it set in trade talks involving the disgruntled swingman, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN notes (Twitter link). The Rockets had been mentioned prominently as a possible destination but even a package of four future first-round picks couldn’t entice the Timberwolves to send him to a conference rival. The Sixers became the most viable trade partner once the Heat pulled Josh Richardson out of trade discussions, Wojnarowski adds.
  • The Sixers were prepared to offer a similar package to the Spurs to acquire Kawhi Leonard this summer, Fischer reports in another tweet. Philadelphia was willing to give up Saric, Covington and a first-rounder to San Antonio before the Spurs opted to deal Leonard to the Raptors. The Spurs’ decision to decline the Sixers’ offer thus far seems like a wise move, considering Saric’s early shooting slump (30% from long range), Jabari Young of The Athletic tweets. Toronto’s package, with DeMar DeRozan as the centerpiece, has helped San Antonio get off to a 6-4 start despite a rash of injuries.
  • Buyout candidates will be even more intrigued to join the Sixers for the stretch run, Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype tweets. Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli joined Philadelphia in that fashion last season, Kennedy adds, and the incentive for players seeking a ring to hop on Philadelphia’s bandwagon has dramatically increased.
  • The Timberwolves considered three offers from different teams before picking the Sixers’ package, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic tweets.
  • Philadelphia will likely move J.J. Redick back into the starting lineup because his 3-point shooting will be needed on the first unit, Keith Smith of RealGM tweets.
  • The earliest that Butler could make his Sixers debut, once the trade is finalized, is Wednesday against the Magic, Wojnarowski adds in another tweet.

Sixers Notes: Morey, Offseason Changes, Fultz

When a July report indicated that the Sixers tried and failed to lure Daryl Morey away from Houston, it appeared that those discussions didn’t go far — Philadelphia reportedly received permission from the Rockets to talk to Morey, but the veteran executive decided to remain in his current job.

According to Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com, however, Morey didn’t turn down the Sixers’ advances out of hand. One source close to the process tells Arnovitz that discussions got “pretty far down the road” before Morey elected to stay in Houston.

As the 76ers’ search for a new head of basketball operations continued following their failed bid for Morey, a consensus begin to build that it was important to maintain continuity in the front office, per Arnovitz. That’s one reason why Elton Brand was the eventual choice for the general manager job.

“When you live with these guys over three months, from draft and free agency, you appreciate what we already had,” head coach Brett Brown said, per Arnovitz. “Elton was always going to be a general manager at some point, in some city. And it might as well be here, and it might as well be now.”

According to Arnovitz, multiple league insiders viewed the decision to promote Brand and give him the title of GM (rather than president of basketball operations) as a “statement of control” by Sixers ownership — if they get cold feet on Brand down the road, they could always bring in a veteran executive above him. For now though, he’s running the show in Philadelphia.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Arnovitz’s feature on the Sixers, which is worth checking out in full, also includes details on how Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are shaping the franchise’s culture and identity, and the lessons Embiid was taught by Tim Duncan during his rookie year in 2014/15.
  • Replacing Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli on the second unit will be one of Brown’s biggest challenges this season, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. In 23 games after that duo was acquired in February, the second unit averaged 41.6 PPG and improved its three-point percentage from 32.2% to 35.2%. Mike Muscala and Wilson Chandler, acquired in trades this summer, are projected to replace them in the rotation but both are batting injuries, Murphy adds.
  • Late first-rounder Landry Shamet had a productive preseason and that opens up more options for the second unit, Sarah Todd of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes. Shamet, a 6’5” point guard, had a pair of double-digit games while mostly working alongside J.J. Redick. “I think it went about as well as it could have,” Shamet told Todd. “I didn’t surprise myself, that’s kind of the way I look at it.”
  • Markelle Fultz will start the season opener and Redick will come off the bench, Jon Johnson of KYW 1060 Philadelphia tweets. The 2017 top overall pick will be starting for the first time. Fultz only appeared in 14 regular season and three postseason games as a rookie. Redick, who averaged a career-best 17.1 PPG last season, hasn’t come off the bench in a regular season game since the 2013/14 season.

(Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.)

Southwest Notes: Belinelli, Parker, Doncic, Rockets

Marco Belinelli will focus on the upcoming NBA season instead of playing for Italy’s national team, according to a Sportando report. The veteran shooting guard will skip World Cup qualifiers next month against Poland and Hungary in order to prepare for the Spurs’ training camp, the report continues. Belinelli, who had a previous two-year stint with San Antonio, played a combined 80 regular-season games last season for the Hawks and Sixers and averaged 12.1 PPG. He’ll back up DeMar DeRozan and could also see some action at small forward after signing a two-year, $12MM deal.

In other news from around the Southwest Division:

  • Tony Parker will come back to San Antonio to end his career, he told the Chinese website Hupu.com in an interview that was relayed by AmicoHoops.net. Parker, who signed a two-year deal with the Hornets, intend to sign a one-day contract with the Spurs when he’s ready to call it quits. “Yes, I will retire as a Spur,” Parker said.
  • Mavericks guard Luka Doncic should be able to handle the physical grind of the NBA but his athleticism and quickness will be tested in his rookie season, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes. He also has to prove he can consistently knock down 3-pointers from behind the NBA arc, Sefko adds. Doncic is expected to jump right into the starting backcourt alongside Dennis Smith Jr.
  • Another trip to the Bahamas is on the docket for Rockets players, Mark Berman of Fox 26 reports.  The team will try to build chemistry by holding a bonding experience there in early September, something it also did last season.

Spurs Sign Marco Belinelli

JULY 20: The Spurs have officially signed Belinelli, the team announced today in a press release.

JULY 1: Former Spur Marco Belinelli will return to San Antonio on a two-year, $12MM contract, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Spurs still have their mid-level exception available and may use that to ink Belinelli.

The 32-year old sharpshooter spent two seasons with the Spurs from 2013 to 2015. He started last season with the Hawks, then joined the Sixers after agreeing to a buyout in February. He averaged 12.9 points in 10 playoffs games with Philadelphia.

While Belinelli isn’t the sort of dynamic player who can impact games in a variety of different ways, his outside shooting makes him a valuable rotation piece. He attempted a career-high 5.3 threes per game in 28 regular season contests with Philadelphia last season, converting them at a 38.5% rate.

We ranked Belinelli as the 30th-best player available this offseason in our list of 2018’s top 50 free agents.

Belinelli is the second agreement of the night for San Antonio, which also reached a deal to re-sign veteran forward Rudy Gay.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southwest Notes: Cousins, Rondo, Doncic, Belinelli

Pelicans GM Dell Demps made his first public comments on the loss of free agents DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo in an interview with Rod Walker of The New Orleans Advocate.

According to Demps, team officials met with Cousins on the first two days of free agency, but the two sides weren’t able to find “common ground.” Demps called negotiations with Cousins “respectful” and “cordial,” but said the uncertainty over his physical condition in the wake of a torn Achilles made it difficult to reach a deal. Cousins eventually signed a one-year contract with the Warriors for their $5.3MM taxpayer mid-level exception.

“The unknown of returning to play made it difficult for both sides to find a common ground,” Demps explained. “We enjoyed DeMarcus in New Orleans and wanted him back. We had multiple discussions with his representatives. It was just very difficult for us to find common ground.”

Rondo also headed west for a one-year contract, signing with the Lakers for $9MM after a single season in New Orleans. Demps hopes the intangibles that Rondo brought will influence other players.

“Ultimately, it was a tough situation because we had so much success with Rondo with his leadership and on-court presence,” Demps said. “We felt like we had a chemistry. Unfortunately, he’s not back. At the same time, we believe that his impact will stay with our team.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavericks made the correct move in holding first-round pick Luka Doncic out of Summer League play, writes Dwain Price of NBA.com. Doncic’s buyout with Real Madrid wasn’t finalized until Monday, and he would have faced a difficult adjustment in joining the team in Las Vegas after it had already played two games.
  • Manu Ginobili was among the first people to text congratulations to Marco Belinelli after he committed to return to the Spurs, notes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express News. That doesn’t guarantee Ginobili will be back for another season, but he’s glad to see his former teammate return after winning a title together in 2014. “We didn’t talk about [Ginobili playing], but I can say he was really happy about me coming back,” Belinelli said. “Winning a championship with that great team was amazing. Nobody is going to take that away from me.”
  • Rockets second-round pick De’Anthony Melton has turned in a standout performance in the Las Vegas Summer League, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Melton slipped to the 46th pick after not playing last season at USC, and he has looked like a steal so far. Melton struggled with his shot in the opener, but is 10 of 23 from 3-point range since then and has impressed the coaching staff with his defense and play-making.