Marreese Speights

Southeast Notes: Heat, Wizards, Speights, Bacon

The Heat will be eligible to apply for a hardship exception after tonight’s game, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. To qualify, teams must have at least four players miss three consecutive games with injuries and be ruled out for at least two more weeks by an independent medical specialist. Dion Waiters will sit out his third straight game tonight with a sprained ankle, joining Justise Winslow, who has missed eight games with a left knee sprain, and Rodney McGruder and Okaro White, who are both recovering from surgeries.

Miami, which signed White under similar circumstances last season, has a roster candidate playing for its G League affiliate, Winderman notes. Veteran swingman Alonzo Gee is averaging 17.8 points in five games with Sioux Falls. The 30-year-old, who last appeared in the NBA when he signed a 10-day contract with the Nuggets in January, has played for six teams in eight years.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • John Wall and Bradley Beal both used the word “selfish” to explain why the Wizards frequently suffer letdowns like the one that resulted in Wednesday’s loss to the Hawks, relays Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Washington was expected to be among the top teams in the East, but has dropped games to the Mavericks, Suns, Lakers, Clippers, Nets [twice] and Hawks, who all have losing records. “We talk about it. We say when we play these teams that are not above .500 or not one of the great teams, we go out there playing for stats,” Wall said.
  • At age 30, Marreese Speights has become a leader on a young Magic team, notes John Denton of Speights, who signed with Orlando this summer, has been around seasoned veterans throughout his career and is passing on the knowledge he gained to his new teammates. “You never know when this game is going to get taken away from you, and that happens to a lot of people, so you have to cherish it every time you get to play,’’ he said. “You have to understand this is bigger than what you think it is. I never take it for granted putting that jersey on.’’
  • Hornets guard Dwayne Bacon will have a short stay in the G League, relays Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. The rookie out of Florida State made an impression Thursday with 45 points, nine rebounds and five assists for the Swarm. “Barring injury to a Hornets player [Friday against Golden State], the plan is to have Bacon play in Greensboro tonight [i.e. Thursday] against Wisconsin, and then on Saturday in Iowa,” GM Rich Cho wrote in a text message. “We would then recall him after the game on Saturday and have him join [the Hornets] in LA.”

Southeast Notes: Gortat, White, Stone, Speights

Marcin Gortat, who expressed doubt about his future with the Wizards during his exit interview in May, now says he’s fully committed to the team, relays Chase Hughes of CSNMidAtlantic. Gortat, who usually spends summers in Poland, joined the team for its informal summer mini-camp this year. Now in his fifth season with the team, Gortat is signed through the 2018/19 season.

“First of all, I knew it right away that I would be coming back,” Gortat said this week on the Wizards TipOff Podcast. “I still have a contract and at the end of the day, I’m a Wizards player. I still have two fully guaranteed years. When I went for the exit interview, I was just preparing myself for the worst. You’ve gotta be ready in this business. You’ve gotta be ready that one day you might get a phone call saying that ‘Hey, I appreciate everything that you did, but we’re going to go in a different direction and trade you.’ I’ve been traded twice in my life. I know how it is. So, at the exit interview I just said I was going to talk to my agent and whatever is going to happen. That doesn’t mean I wanted to be traded.”

There’s more tonight from the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat will have to keep Okaro White on their 15-man roster if they want to retain his rights, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. The power forward appeared in 35 games for the Heat last season, but spent much of the season with the team’s G League affiliate in Sioux Falls. White was claimed Wednesday in the G League expansion draft by the Memphis Hustle, the new affiliate of the Grizzlies. Because White has a guarantee of more than $50K, he cannot be deemed an affiliate player if he gets cut by Miami. He would have to either report to the Hustle or play overseas.
  • New Hornets guard Julyan Stone has an agreement not to discuss the details of his release from his Italian team, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Umana Reyer in Venice agreed to let Stone out of his contract so he could return to the United States to be closer to his ailing father.
  • Joining the Magic fulfills a long-time dream for Florida native Marreese Speights, relays Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. The nine-year veteran has been far from home recently, spending the past four seasons with the Warriors and Clippers. He is excited about the opportunity after signing a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal with Orlando last month. “The arena is an hour and 20 minutes from my house in St. Pete,” Speights said. “I grew up watching them; I became a big fan of them as a kid and that’s when I fell in love with the game. I’ve always wanted to play for the Magic. This is a dream come true.”

Marreese Speights Signs With Magic

July 27, 8:01 PM: The signing is official, according to a team press release. “Marreese (Speights) has developed into [an] effective shooting big man during his pro career,” said President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman. “He is a veteran player that brings playoff and championship experience to our team. We are very happy to have Marreese and his family in Orlando.”

July 23, 3:31 PM: Speights’ deal with Orlando will be a minimum salary arrangement, Pick tells Hoops Rumors.

12:22 PM: Marreese Speights is “on course” to sign with the Magic, tweets international basketball writer David Pick.

Speights recently held a face-to-face meeting with Orlando officials, who have been searching for shooting help. The 6’10” Speights is a reliable shooter from distance for a big man, connecting on 37% from 3-point range for the Clippers last season while averaging 8.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.

The Magic have their $4.328MM room exception available, so all or part of that could be used to add Speights. Even if he signs for the veteran’s minimum of $2.1MM, it will match the value of the contract he opted out of with the Clippers.

Speights spent one season in L.A. after signing there last summer. Before that, he was part of the rotation for Warriors teams that captured the 2015 NBA title and won 73 games in 2015/16. A first-round pick of the Sixers in 2008, he also spent time with the Grizzlies and Cavaliers.

Marreese Speights Meets With Magic

The Magic held a face-to-face meeting with free agent center/power forward Marreese Speights, tweets international basketball writer David Pick.

Orlando, which has been looking for shooting help, could benefit from the addition of the 6’10” veteran, who played all 82 games with the Clippers last season. He shot 37% from 3-point range while averaging 8.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per night.

The Magic still have their $4.328MM room exception available and could offer Speights a nice raise from the minimum-salary deal he opted out of in L.A.

Speights spent just one season with the Clippers after joining the team as a free agent last summer. A 2008 first-round pick by the Sixers, he has also played for the Grizzlies, Cavaliers and Warriors in his nine-year career.

The meeting with Orlando comes a week after negotiations broke off with Atlanta. The Clippers are also reportedly interested in having him return.

Talks Between Hawks, Marreese Speights End

The Hawks had been in discussion with sharp-shooting center Marreese Speights for a week but those talks have ended, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The veteran is thus back in play on the open market.

Earlier this week we wrote about how the Clippers had hoped to retain both Luc Mbah a Moute and Speights. Unfortunately for them, however, Mbah a Moute has already committed to the Rockets leaving only the 29-year-old Speights available as a returning option for the transitioning franchise.

In 82 games for the Clippers last season, Speights averaged 8.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. His ability to spread the floor from the five position could serve any number of contenders well provided they’re able to land him at a reasonable price. From 2013 to 2016, of course, Speights was a valuable addition to the Warriors’ rotation.

Speights hit the market this summer having opted out of a minimum salary player option with the Clippers. Even if the nine-year vet only inks a veteran’s minimum deal worth $2.1MM in 2017/18, however, he’ll match the value of that player option.

Clippers Remain Engaged On Several Free Agents

The Clippers have had a busy offseason thus far and the team remains active with at least two players from last season’s roster. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter) first noted that Los Angeles has been engaged with Luc Mbah a Moute and Los Angeles Times scribe Brad Turner (via Twitter) added that in addition to Mbah a Moute, the Clippers are interested in retaining Marreese Speights.

While there is interest, Wojnarowski noted that the Clippers’ financial constraints would make a deal difficult and Turner added that no deal is close.

Mbah a Moute, 30, played in 80 games (76 starts) last season while averaging 6.1 PPG and 2.1 RPG. As for Speights, the 29-year-old appeared in all 82 games for Los Angeles and the NBA champion provided his usual solid production with 8.7 PPG and 4.5 RPG.

After losing Chris Paul to the Rockets, the Clippers spent significant money on sharpshooter Danilo Gallinari (three years, $63MM), international superstar Milos Teodosic (two years, $12.3MM), and re-signing Blake Griffin (five years, $173MM). While the team restocked its roster in the sign-and-trade sending Paul to Houston, Speights and Mbah a Moute were two key pieces of last year’s team on both sides of the floor.

Los Angeles has no cap space left as the team used its bi-annual exception last year and used up most of their mid-level exception on Teodosic and Jawun Evans. With approximately $1.5MM left on their MLE, the Clippers’ best chance of retaining Mbah a Moute/Speights would be on deals worth the veteran’s minimum.

Marreese Speights Opts Out

Marreese Speights has opted out of his 2017/18 contract with the Clippers, according to a tweet from his representatives, ASM Sports.

Speights, 29, signed a two-year deal with Los Angeles last summer that included a player option worth nearly $1.46MM for next season. He will be seeking significantly more in a long-term contract this summer.

Speights played all 82 games in his first season with the Clippers, mainly as a reserve, and averaged 8.7 points and 4.5 rebounds in about 16 minutes per night. A first-round pick by the Sixers in 2008, he has also played for the Grizzlies, Cavaliers and Warriors during his nine-year NBA career.


Pacific Notes: Griffin, West, Clarkson

The Clippers confirmed Blake Griffin‘s knee surgery in a press release posted this afternoon on the team’s website. The operation to remove loose bodies from his right knee will be performed Tuesday, and he is expected to be out of action three to six weeks. Griffin is averaging 21.0 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists through 26 games.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • L.A. is in better shape to withstand Griffin’s absence than it was a year ago, contends Dan Woike of The Orange County Register. When Griffin was sidelined with a broken hand and a quad injury after Christmas of 2015, Paul Pierce took his place in the starting lineup and DeAndre Jordan assumed a larger role in the offense, averaging 14.1 points and 14.3 rebounds in the games without Griffin. The Clippers signed free agents Brandon Bass and Marreese Speights during the offseason, either of whom could start at power forward. Also, Pierce is still around, Luc Mbah a Moute can guard bigger forwards and Austin Rivers could be moved into the starting lineup.
  • The operation may impact Griffin’s future earnings, suggests ESPN’s Kevin Pelton. Under the tentative CBA, Griffin needs to make an all-NBA team at the end of the season to qualify for the newly created designated veteran player exception. An absence of three to six weeks will certainly reduce his chances. Players who qualify can earn up to 35% of the cap if they remain with their current team. Griffin would be limited to 30% if he doesn’t qualify, which translates to about $30MM over a five-year contract.
  • The Warriors’ David West will be out for a while with a hip pointer, tweets Shams Charania of The Vertical. The veteran forward underwent an MRI on Friday after suffering the injury in a game last week. Golden State had been concerned that the injury was something more serious.
  • Jordan Clarkson didn’t complain about moving to the bench after signing a four-year, $50MM contract with the Lakers, but he hasn’t thrived in his new role, writes Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News. Clarkson, whose starting job was taken by Nick Young, has shot just 39.8% over his last 10 games. “Coach wants me to be aggressive,” Clarkson said. “That’s what I try to do every night when I’m out there on the floor. But at the same time, I have to figure out what’s a good shot and a bad shot.”

Western Notes: Gentry, Speights, Bender

The Pelicans are off to a 7-16 start to the campaign, but coach Alvin Gentry isn’t concerned about his job status, Justin Verrier of relays. “I really don’t give a [expletive] about my job status,” Gentry said. “I’m gonna work hard, and I’m gonna coach until the day they tell me I’m not the coach here anymore. It doesn’t matter. I don’t ever worry about that. That isn’t anything that I spend five seconds worrying about. My worry is how do I get the guys in the locker room to play at the level that I want them to. That’s where all my effort goes. It doesn’t go anywhere else.”

When asked if he ever imagined things would get this rough in New Orleans, Gentry said, “No, I didn’t expect this, no. But we have who we have. And the bottom line is, I don’t care who we have in the locker room. All I expect is them to do is compete and play hard, which they’ve done most of the night, and then we’ve got to try to find a way to execute. And then we’ve got to make some shots. We’ve got to knock down some shots. That’s the bottom line.

Here’s the latest from out West:

  • Clippers forward Marreese Speights was down on the franchise’s perceived culture after the team’s recent drubbing by the Warriors, Dan Woike of The Orange County Register relays. “That’s the scouting report when you play against the Clippers,” Speights said. “It’s always been, especially with the Warriors, you play against the Clippers, you hit them a couple of times, and their spirit is going to be down. That’s what happened, so we’ve just got to find a way to get over that hump.
  • Suns big man Dragan Bender is learning on the job during his first season in the league, a process he discussed with Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. “I’m just growing each and every day, trying to learn,” Bender said. “I know this is my first year and I’m 19 years old and I know it’s going to be tough for me. I’m just going to come each and every day and compete. I’ll try to go against anybody on the court. It doesn’t matter who it is in front of me. I just try to help win the games. My job is to play defense and hit the open shots and deliver the ball at the right time.

Western Notes: Speights, Paul, Gasol, Grizzlies

Reserve Clippers center and former Warriors backup Marreese Speights believes his current team needs to learn some lessons from its blowout loss to Golden State on Wednesday, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register reports. Speights ripped the Clippers for whining about calls and implored them to play more unselfishly, Oram continues. Speights explained that the Warriors coaching staff felt the Clippers would fold if “you hit them a couple times” and they lived up to that reputation, Oram adds. “First we need to start really just leaving the refs alone,” Speights told Oram and other media members. “Guys just got to sacrifice, do some other things than scoring, do some other things than your personal goals. Just try something new. They’ve been doing it here for four or five years and it hasn’t been working, so it’s time to try something new.”

In other news around the Western Conference:
  • Clippers guard Chris Paul believes it’s feasible that he will team up with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony at some point, he revealed in a radio interview that was relayed by In an Open Run podcast, said “anything’s possible” and added that they work out together at times during the offseason. Paul can opt out of his contract after this season, while James and Anthony can opt out of the final year of their contracts after the 2017/18 season.
  • Pau Gasol nearly signed with the Spurs in 2014 before choosing the Bulls, according to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express Nets. Gasol felt Chicago “underperformed” in his two seasons there before he opted out of the final year of his contract and chose the Spurs this summer. He was also heavy recruited by ex-Bulls coach and current Timberwolves coach and president of basketball operations, Tom Thibodeau, McDonald continues. Gasol turned down bigger money — two years and $36MM — to sign with San Antonio for two years and $31.6MM, McDonald adds. “I think a player like that, he’s looking for an opportunity to be part of a championship team,” Thibodeau told McDonald.
  • Rookies point guards Andrew Harrison and Wade Baldwin are doing a respectable job replacing injured Mike Conley for the Grizzlies, Ronald Tillery of the Memphis  Commercial Appeal writes. Their decision-making can be frustrating to the coaching staff at times and Harrison’s outside shot has been inconsistent but overall, coach David Fitzdale is pleased with the way they’ve performed, Tillery adds. “I’ve got to live with what these younger guys are doing on the court whether it’s good or bad,” Fizdale told Tillery. “In the long run, it’s going to help us. At the end of the year, they won’t be as young anymore.”
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