Mark Bartelstein

Atlantic Notes: Horford, Lowry, Raptors, Portis, Knicks

Sixers power forward Al Horford shot down an ESPN report that his new team was guilty of tampering prior to free agency. He addressed the issue on the Dan Patrick Show (hat tip to NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg). Horford declined his team option with the Celtics and signed a four-year, $109MM contract with Philadelphia. “It’s ridiculous. … (Celtics GM) Danny [Ainge] was really good to me. I know he’s definitely frustrated that things didn’t work out with us,” Horford said.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Heading into unrestricted free agency next summer, Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry has hired Priority Sports — headed by longtime agent Mark Bartelstein — to represent him, according to a Priority Sports tweet. Lowry signed a three-year deal worth up to $100MM in 2017. His previous reps were Gerard Darnes Soms, Andrew Miller and Juan Aisa, according to Spotrac.
  • The Raptors used their $3.623MM bi-annual exception to sign forward Stanley Johnson, according to Blake Murphy of The Athletic. The $9.26MM mid-level was split up among Patrick McCaw, Matt Thomas, second-round pick Dewan Hernandez and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who received $2.5MM rather than the veteran’s minimum. McCaw signed a two-year, $8MM deal while Thomas and Hernandez received partially-guaranteed three-year contracts.
  • Power forward Bobby Portis believes the players the Knicks brought in are a hungry group ready to overachieve, as he told Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype. Portis joined the team on a two-year, $31MM deal, though only the first year is guaranteed. “I love being underrated, man. I’m an underdog,” he said. “I say that every day. We’re the team that’s being counted out right now. People are looking past us. They’re talking about stars going to new teams and this and that, and that’s okay. Everybody on this team has a huge chip on their shoulder.”
  • After striking out on the big free agents this summer, the Knicks will have to exercise patience and come up with a better plan to lure top talent, Steve Popper of Newsday opines.

L.A. Notes: Leonard, Green, Lakers’ Coaches, Kuzma

The Lakers felt betrayed by Kawhi Leonard in the free agent process, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on his latest podcast (hat tip to Michael Kaskey-Blomain of CBS Sports). Some members of the team’s front office believe Leonard “played” them as he negotiated a deal with the Clippers. Leonard didn’t announce his intentions until July 6, causing the Lakers to miss out on other free agents while they were waiting.

The Raptors weren’t happy with the way things worked out either, Windhorst adds, saying that Leonard asked for “the sun, the moon, the stars” before deciding to leave.

“I kind of think they were all still in the game, and they all felt like they were still in the game,” Windhorst said. “If Toronto did not still feel like they were in the game, they would not have sent the plane for him, they would not have done the big presentation. If the Lakers didn’t think that they were still in the game, they would not have delayed the Anthony Davis trade like they did to wait and see if they could get him.” 

There’s more today from Los Angeles:

  • Leonard not only convinced Paul George to ask for a trade to the Clippers, he helped recruit other players and convinced JaMychal Green to stay, Shams Charania states in an insiders roundtable for The Athletic. Green turned down more lucrative offers to accept a two-year, $10MM pact with L.A.
  • The Lakers are rounding out the staff for new coach Frank VogelMike Penberthy, who played for the team in 2000 and 2001, will be hired as a shooting coach, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Penberthy served the same role last season on Alvin Gentry’s staff with the Pelicans. Also set to be hired is Quinton Crawford, who worked with Vogel in Orlando and spent last year with the Hornets, relays Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).
  • Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma is in the market for a new agent, according to Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. Kuzma is leaving Mark Bartelstein and Zach Kurtin of Priority Sports and Entertainment in hopes of finding new representatives to promote his business interests. He hasn’t started meeting with new agents yet.

Atlantic Notes: Durant, Hayward, Harris, Leonard

The Celtics have been slumping but Kevin Durant believes they’ll be dangerous when the playoffs arrive, as the Warriors star told a group of reporters, including ESPN’s Nick Friedell. Durant, whose team faces Boston on Tuesday, believes the Celtics are “still getting used to each other” but they’ll be a tough out in the postseason. “They’re right up there at the top,” Durant said. “They’ve been losing a couple games, but they’ve got the top talent, some of the top talent on that team, so they’ll be fine once the playoffs start.”

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Gordon Hayward‘s agent promises that his client will return to All-Star form next season. Mark Bartelstein made the comments in a WEEI interview that were relayed by NBC Sports Boston’s Nick Goss. “My guess is he doesn’t get his game all the way back where we’re accustomed to seeing it until next year,” Bartelstein said of the Celtics forward. “He’s going to need a summer to get back in the gym and get back in the laboratory and the weight room and build on everything he did last year. But there’s not a doubt in my mind. He’ll be an All-Star in this league many, many times over.”
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown is a big Tobias Harris fan and hopes the team re-signs him, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Brown praises Harris not only for his play on the court but his off-court persona. “I hope he’s a Philadelphia 76er for a long time,” Brown said. Harris, who will enter unrestricted free agency this summer, has enjoyed the ride with his new team since being dealt by the Clippers. “I like it here,” he said. “It’s been a good start that we’ve been able to have, a good group of guys, and the team has a lot of potential.”
  • The Raptors’ load management strategy with star Kawhi Leonard shows disrespect to the team’s fans, Damien Cox of the Toronto Star argues. Leonard has sat out 18 games this season, including an overtime loss in Detroit on Sunday in which many Raptors fans crossed the border to see the game. While the ultimate goal is to have a healthy Leonard for the playoffs, he’s making a huge salary and fans buy full-price tickets to watch him play. To simply shrug off his participation in regular-season basketball is a snub to fans, Cox contends.

Extension Roundup: Rozier, Portis, Jones, Russell

 Celtics point guard Terry Rozier turned down a rookie scale extension offer prior to Monday’s deadline and will become a restricted free agent next summer, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston reports. Boston offered Rozier approximately $12MM annually, according to Blakely, but chose to take his chances in free agency. Talks were cordial and the two parties will revisit each other when Rozier hits the market, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.
“I’m in a great situation,” Rozier told Blakely. “My team (representatives) felt it wasn’t good for me to sign an extension right now. It opens my options a little bit, but I’m focused on what’s happening right now.”
Rozier is expected to have multiple suitors even as a restricted free agent, since Kyrie Irving recently announced that he plans to re-sign with the Celtics next summer, Blakely notes. Rozier broke out last season, particularly after Irving went down with a knee injury. He was especially potent in the playoffs, averaging 16.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 5.7 APG.
We have more extension decisions:
  • The Timberwolves and point guard Tyus Jones did not reach a rookie scale extension agreement. Jones will be a restricted free agent, and that’s been the expectation all along, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic tweets. Minnesota would have to make a $3,573,205 qualifying offer before free agency next summer, otherwise Jones would be unrestricted. Jones saw action in all 82 regular-season games last season, including 11 starts, and averaged 5.1 PPG and 2.8 APG in 17.9 MPG.
  • The Bulls and forward Bobby Portis couldn’t come to an extension agreement before Monday’s deadline, Wojnarowski tweets. Agent Mark Bartelstein and Chicago GM Gar Forman had lengthy negotiations as the deadline approached, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tweets, but couldn’t close the financial gap. “We had very positive talks,” Bartelstein told Johnson. “These are hard extensions to get done.” (Twitter link). Portis will be a restricted free agent if Chicago gives him a $3,611,813 qualifying offer. He averaged 13.2 PPG and 6.8 RPG in 73 regular season games after returning from his eight-game team suspension following his well-publicized dust-up with former teammate Nikola Mirotic.
  • Nets guard D’Angelo Russell and forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson did not receive extensions, Michael Scotto of The Athetic tweets. Neither player was aware of Monday’s deadline, according to Scotto, suggesting that the Nets never made a serious pitch to lock them up before free agency. The Nets would have extend a $9,160,706 qualifying offer to Russell to make him a restricted free agent. Hollis-Jefferson’s qualifying offer would be $3,594,369.

Draft Updates: Porter, Jackson, Knicks, Doncic

There are conflicting views among lottery teams over the medical report on Michael Porter Jr., tweets ESPN’s Jeff Goodman. Doctors from some teams advised staying away from Porter entirely, but medical staffs from other organizations don’t believe the risk is all that high. Concerns about the long-term condition of Porter’s back have caused ESPN’s Jonathan Givony to drop him to 12th in his latest mock draft.

Porter’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, provided newer and more detailed medical information to lottery teams today, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Bartelstein hopes the updated info will help ease concerns about Porter’s condition.

There are a few more draft notes to pass along:

  • Jaren Jackson Jr. has softened his stance on going to Memphis now that it appears the Grizzlies might select him at No. 4, relays Wojnarowski. (Twitter link). Jackson, who refused to work out for Memphis, has given team officials all the personal information they asked for. Wojnarowski adds that coach J.B. Bickerstaff helped to sell Jackson on his future with the organization.
  • The Knicks have narrowed their focus to Kevin Knox and Miles Bridges if they hang on to their No. 9 pick, reports TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter link). It’s possible that Aldridge meant to type Mikal Bridges, who has been projected as a possible lottery pick.
  • Luka Doncic confirmed on ESPN’s draft telecast that he plans to play in the NBA next season. That had been widely anticipated, but Doncic’s comments removed any doubt before the draft began.
  • With the draft about to begin, the Jazz are still open to moving up, down or keeping their first-round pick, tweets Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. Utah holds selections No. 21 and 52.

Combine Notes: Porter, Bamba, Young, Hutchison

The Clippers have their eyes on Michael Porter Jr. and are hoping to use their picks at No. 12 and 13 to trade up in the draft, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. The Missouri forward, who missed almost the entire season with a back injury, could give L.A. a reliable scorer in the frontcourt. O’Connor notes that team owner Steve Ballmer stopped his session with the media at the combine to listen to Porter’s interview.

Porter, who is projected at No. 8 to the Cavaliers in the latest mock draft by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, told reporters he had combine interviews scheduled with 13 teams, including the Clippers. He also stated that he believes he’s “the best player in the draft.”

L.A.’s challenge is finding a team willing to trade down. O’Connor cites the Grizzlies, Mavericks, Magic and Bulls — who hold picks four through seven — as teams in need of multiple assets. However, it’s not clear if any of them is willing to move back in the draft, and O’Connor has heard that Memphis is planning to keep its No. 4 pick. The Grizzlies are looking for size, O’Connor adds, but are the only team in the top eight not to ask for a meeting with Texas center Mo Bamba.
O’Connor’s recap on the combine is filled with interesting tidbits. Here are a few of the highlights:
  • Bamba believes he could form a dangerous combination with Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr., but Dallas may not be interested. With Dirk Nowitzki returning for another season, the Mavs will try to rebuild quickly to put a contending team around him. That means targeting a free agent big man such as DeAndre Jordan, DeMarcus Cousins or Julius Randle, which would make a scorer like Porter more attractive in the draft. O’Connor notes that Cousins’ agent, Jarinn Akana, has strong ties to the Mavericks. Of his 12 clients, five have played in Dallas and another was with its G League affiliate, Jaleel Cousins, who is DeMarcus’ brother.
  • The Knicks are interested in Oklahoma point guard Trae Young if he falls to the ninth pick. They see him as a good fit alongside last year’s first-rounder, Frank Ntilikina, who can take on the tougher defensive matchup and help space the floor for Young to drive to the basket. However, the Magic at No. 6 and the Cavaliers at No. 8 both need point guards, so Young could be off the board before New York’s selection.
  • It still isn’t clear who made a draft promise to Boise State forward Chandler Hutchison, but O’Connor was told he won’t drop into the late first round. Hutchison, who is expected to be taken between the 18th and 24th pick, held workouts for the Timberwolves and Bulls before withdrawing from the combine. It may or may not be a clue, but Hutchison’s agent, Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports, is a friend of Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and has represented many Chicago players.
  • Kostas Antetokounmpo showed a lot of similarities to his older brother Giannis Antetokounmpo in his combine workouts. Kostas, 2o, could be a second-round pick and may be a valuable asset for a team to have when Giannis hits free agency in 2021.

New York Notes: Kanter, Lee, Russell, Allen

Despite starting the season with four centers, that could become a position of need for the Knicks this summer, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Enes Kanter has signed with Mark Bartelstein, one of the NBA’s most powerful agents, as he ponders whether to opt out of an $18.6MM salary for next season, adds Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

Backup center Kyle O’Quinn has a $4.3MM opt out that he is expected to exercise, as he recently expressed a desire to join a playoff contender. Joakim Noah is on an extended leave of absence from the team, and Willy Hernangomez has already been traded to the Hornets. Berman expects the Knicks to use the stretch provision on Noah once September 1 arrives to open up future cap space.

There’s more today out of New York:

  • Trade rumors have surrounded veteran Courtney Lee, but he hopes to remain with the Knicks, relays Chris Iseman of NorthJersey.com. Lee doesn’t fit in with the youth movement in New York and may not have a future spot in a crowded backcourt. “All I can control is what I can control,” Lee said. “And that’s showing up here and being a professional and continuing to do the things I’ve been doing, encouraging and helping the young guys. And then when Coach calls my name, going out there and playing hard.”
  • Lee also came to the defense of embattled coach Jeff Hornacek, Iseman adds, blaming injuries for a disappointing season. The Knicks were 11-10 when Tim Hardaway Jr. suffered a stress injury to his left leg in late November, and Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL shortly after Hardaway returned. “For what, injuries?” Lee responded when asked about Hornacek. “For Tim having a stress fracture? For KP going down? How do you blame coach for that?”
  • D’Angelo Russell understands the need to improve after mixed results in his first season with the Nets, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Russell averaged 15.4 points and 5.1 assists, but missed 32 games after knee surgery and did little to calm fears about his defense. “Yeah, it could be better. I think it’s just learning. I’m feeling it out,” said Russell, who will be eligible for an extension this summer. “Everything I’m doing is new, playing with new coaches, new teammates. Everything is new. So I think it’s a feeling-it-out type deal with me, so it could always be better.”
  • Rookie center Jarrett Allen has been a pleasant surprise for the Nets, but coach Kenny Atkinson wants him to improve as a rebounder, Lewis notes in a separate story. Allen averages 5.3 boards per night, which ranks 46th among centers.

Draft Updates: Hudson, Alkins, Porter, Palmer

University of Florida shooting guard Jalen Hudson plans to declare for the draft without hiring an agent, Jeff Goodman of ESPN tweets. A Virginia Tech transfer, the 6’6” Hudson averaged 15.5 PPG in his junior year while making 40.4% of his 3-point tries. He’s currently ranked No. 39 on ESPN’s Jonathan Givony’s Top 100 prospects list.

In other news regarding the draft:

  • Arizona guard Rawle Alkins confirmed he’s headed for the draft and intends to hire an agent, which will officially end his college career, he declared on his Twitter feed. Sports Illustrated reported early this month that Alkins intended to declare for the draft. The 6’5” Alkins, who averaged 13.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG and 2.5 APG in his sophomore year, is ranked No. 59 by Givony.
  • Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr. is close to signing with agent Mark Bartelstein and Priority Sports, league sources told international expert David Pick (Twitter link). Porter, whose lone college season was wrecked by a back injury, declared for the draft on Sunday. The 6’10” Porter is currently rated No. 7 by Givony.
  • The Nebraska duo of guard James Palmer Jr. and forward Isaac Copeland Jr. have declared for the draft without hiring an agent, according to a school press release. The 6’6” Palmer averaged 17.2 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 3.0 APG as a junior. The 6’9” Copeland averaged 12.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG and 1.0 BPG in his junior campaign. They are not on Givony’s Top 100 list.

Gordon Hayward Decision on Hold?

May 6, 2017; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) warms up before the game against the Golden State Warriors in game three of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports2:34pm: Hayward has changed his mind four times since Saturday, a source tells Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link). Agents are speculating to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News that a sign-and-trade or possibly a separate Celtics deal is holding up a formal announcement (Twitter link).

2:25pm: Boston’s offer is $127.8MM over four years, with a player option likely after the third season, reports A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.

2:05pm: The leak regarding Hayward’s decision may lead to a delay in his announcement, Himmelsbach tweets, with Bartelstein suggesting the situation may not be resolved today. “That was the goal,” he said, “but now we’ve got to kind of regroup here a bit.” 

Jazz president Steve Starks has tweeted a statement that reads, “We trust Gordon and his agent that no decision has been made. Good communication all day and a great relationship.”

1:50pm: The Celtics haven’t heard from Hayward yet, but they aren’t denying the report from ESPN, tweets Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. Sources are telling Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe that the move is a formality and the teams just need to be notified (Twitter link).

1:40pm: Conflicting information is beginning to filter out concerning Gordon Hayward. David Aldridge of TNT claims Hayward has not reached a decision and is still weighing his options (Twitter link). Hayward’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, says the same thing to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com. “Gordon hasn’t made a decision yet,” Bartelstein said. “We are still working through it.” (Twitter link).

1:19pm: Gordon Hayward will announce today that he’s signing with the Celtics, tweets Chris Haynes of ESPN.com.

The All-Star forward, who spent his first seven NBA seasons in Utah, was considered the top prize left on the free agent market. The Celtics, Jazz and Heat all held meetings with him over the past three days. The move will reunite him with Brad Stevens, his college coach at Butler.

Boston’s belief that it had a shot at Hayward affected its decision to be conservative in its pursuit of Jimmy Butler and Paul George, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).

With about $27MM in cap space, the Celtics don’t have quite enough cap room to sign Hayward to a full max deal. Hayward could agree to accept a little bit less, or the Celtics could try to move some salary before the moratorium ends on Thursday. One path, Blakely tweets, is to pull their qualifying offer for Kelly Olynyk, renounce all their free agents, waive Jordan Mickey and Demetrius Jackson and trade away one other contract.

Hayward, 27, is coming off his best season, setting careers highs with 21.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He gives the Celtics another dangerous shooter who can stretch defenses and share the scoring load with Isaiah Thomas.

Extension Rumors: Plumlee, Hardaway, Zeller

Trail Blazers big man Mason Plumlee doesn’t expect to get a new deal done today, per Joe Freeman of The Oregonian (Twitter link). “Unless I go to my phone and my agent has something unexpected for me, there’s not going to be an extension,” Plumlee said. Agent Mark Bartelstein said earlier today that there was “no news” on the Plumlee front, Freeman notes (via Twitter). Still, the 26-year-old would like to remain in Portland long-term (Twitter link via Freeman).

Here are a few more updates and rumors on extension talks around the NBA, with tonight’s deadline looming…