- 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.
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.
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.”
- 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.
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.
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.
2:34pm: 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).
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.
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.
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…
- Tim Hardaway Jr. and the Hawks continue to discuss a possible extension, but an agreement remains unlikely, several people familiar with the situation tell Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. According to Vivlamore, both sides have interest in working something out, but may wait until 2017 to attempt to finalize a deal.
- It doesn’t appear as if Cody Zeller and the Hornets will complete a new deal before today’s deadline arrives, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.
- Stan Van Gundy continues to express pessimism about reaching an agreement with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Reggie Bullock. Van Gundy said this afternoon he’d be “surprised” if the Pistons lock up either player today, per Rod Beard of The Detroit News (Twitter link).
- The Timberwolves and Shabazz Muhammad are “far apart” in negotiations, a source tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated.
The Cavs are thinking about making a pitch to agent Mark Bartelstein to have him join the team’s front office, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com. It’s unclear whether Cleveland envisions putting the founder and CEO of Priority Sports & Entertainment in the role of primary decision maker, or if he’d serve in an assistant capacity. In any case, it’s unlikely the team can convince Bartelstein to make the move, Stein writes.
Any significant change the Cavs might make to their management team probably wouldn’t happen until after the season, according to Stein. Cleveland hopes interim GM David Griffin is successful enough at the trade deadline and through the rest of the season to make a convincing case to retain his job permanently. Griffin apparently has a mutual desire to head up Cleveland’s front office for the long term, Stein says.
David Lee, Taj Gibson and Gordon Hayward are among the prominent names on Bartelstein’s list of clients, as our Agency Database shows. The notion of an agent joining team management is unusual, but not unprecedented. Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby and Warriors GM Bob Myers are former agents, as Stein points out.