Marreese Speights

Howard, Noah Impressive In Lakers Workouts

Dwight Howard and Joakim Noah both worked out for the Lakers Thursday and “left impressions that they could be helpful to the team,” tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Marreese Speights, who is also being considered for a roster spot, will hold his workout today.

L.A. is scrambling to find a replacement for free agent addition DeMarcus Cousins, who suffered a torn ACL last week. No timetable has been established for Cousins’ recovery, but it’s possible he will miss the entire season.

Howard is still under contract with the Grizzlies, but they have no plans to keep him on the roster after acquiring him from the Wizards this summer in a trade to cut salary. Memphis granted permission for Howard to audition for a role with the Lakers.

Noah remains unsigned after averaging 7.1 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 42 games for the Grizzlies last season. Speights spent the past season playing in China.

Lakers To Work Out Noah, Speights, Howard

The Lakers plan to work out free agent centers Joakim Noah and Marreese Speights as well as the Grizzlies’ Dwight Howard this week in Los Angeles, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Another NBA free agent, Marcin Gortat, could also come in for a look, Wojnarowski adds. The Lakers want to evaluate the physical condition and mindset of each player as they seek to replace DeMarcus Cousins.

Cousins suffered a torn ACL this month after he signed a one-year contract with the Lakers. Cousins could miss the entire season.

The Grizzlies had already granted the Lakers permission to meet with Howard. Memphis acquired him from the Wizards this offseason but he’s not part of their plans. The Grizzlies could make a trade or reach a buyout on his $5.6MM contract if the Lakers want him.

Noah averaged 7.1 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 41 games for Memphis last season after his woeful stint with the Knicks. He hasn’t drawn much attention on the free agent market, though he reportedly was being very selective about his next NBA destination.

Speights, who played in China last season, worked out in front of numerous NBA executives last month in Las Vegas.

Gortat was waived by the Clippers at the trade deadline last season and didn’t get picked up.

The Lakers currently have 14 players with guaranteed deals.

Free Agency Notes: Celtics, Carter, Hawks, Lakers

With Guerschon Yabusele set to hit waivers, the Celtics don’t have a set plan in place for their 15th roster spot, per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link).

As Himmelsbach explains, Boston could simply fill that spot in the coming weeks with a player, but there’s still a good chance that there will be more change coming to the roster before opening night. It’s even possible that the Celtics will add multiple players and enter training with more than 15 players on guaranteed contracts, Himmelsbach notes (via Twitter).

While Tacko Fall has been a standout for the Celtics during Summer League play, there are currently no plans for him to slide into that 15th roster spot, according to Himmelsbach, who says the plan is still for Fall to enter training camp on an Exhibit 10 contract and proceed from there (Twitter link). The Celtics are currently back to exploring the free agent market for minimum-salary targets, tweets Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald.

As Boston considers its options, here’s more on free agency:

  • The idea of the Hawks bringing back Vince Carter for another season remains a long shot, tweets Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. According to Vivlamore, Atlanta still may add a veteran to its roster, but doesn’t want to take minutes away from its young players, and Carter may be seeking a larger role.
  • Lakers head coach Frank Vogel was among those in attendance at workouts for NBA veterans Marreese Speights and Lance Stephenson in Las Vegas today, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype (Twitter links).
  • An ESPN panel, including Dave McMenamin, Tim Bontemps, Malika Andrews, and others – weighs in on the most underrated and most questionable moves of the NBA offseason so far.
  • After commissioner Adam Silver suggested that the NBA has some “work to do” on its free agency system, David Aldridge of The Athletic argues that the league should do away with its unenforceable tampering rules.

Free Agent Notes: Ellis, Green, Speights

Representatives from nearly half of the league’s teams were in attendance for a workout that included former NBA stars Amar’e Stoudemire and Monta Ellis, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets.

The Lakers, Clippers, Warriors, Knicks, Thunder, Bucks, Pistons, Kings, Nuggets, Blazers, Magic, Hawks, Wolves and Wizards were all in attendance. Haynes adds that 15 international teams from Europe and Asia also had representatives in Las Vegas for the workout.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Spurs, Nuggets, and Knicks were all interested in JaMychal Green before the forward re-signed with the Clippers, Jovan Buha of The Athletic writes. Those teams were offering him a more lucrative offer than the one he signed with Los Angeles. The Clippers put on a “full-court press” to retain Green, Buha adds, and the 29-year-old ended up inking a two-year deal worth slightly under $10MM.
  • Green has the ability to be a free agent next summer, having secured a player option as part of his deal with the Clippers. Buha (in the same piece) speculates that Green could have commanded a deal in the $10MM+ range this offseason and that the forward should have the opportunity for a similar contract next summer.
  • Mo Speights, who played in China last season, is working out for teams in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated tweets. Speights last played in the NBA for the Magic during the 2017/18 season.

Marreese Speights Set To Play In China

Unrestricted NBA free agent Marreese Speights has reached an agreement to join China’s Guangzhou Long Lions and will continue his playing career overseas, per international basketball reporter David Pick (Twitter link).

It’s a six-month, $2MM deal for Speights, according to Pick, who first reported two weeks ago that the big man was close to reaching a deal with the Chinese club.

[RELATED: 2018 NBA Free Agent Tracker]

Speights, who will turn 31 next month, has bounced around among several NBA teams over the course of his 10-year career, spending time with the Sixers, Grizzlies, Cavaliers, Warriors, Clippers, and Magic. In Orlando in 2017/18, he averaged 7.7 PPG and 2.6 RPG. The veteran has also improved his three-point shooting in recent years, making 1.7 threes per game at a 36.9% clip last season.

Since the Chinese season ends before the NBA season does, Speights could have the opportunity to collect $2MM and then return stateside to catch on with an NBA contender down the stretch in 2018/19.

Marreese Speights Close To Signing With Chinese Team

Veteran big man Marreese Speights is close to an agreement with China’s Guangzhou Long Lions, international reporter David Pick tweets.

This would be an interesting move for Speights, who is once again entering unrestricted NBA free agency next month. It suggests the offer must be substantial, since he could still fit the bill for an NBA team seeking a stretch four and veteran leadership.

Speights has bounced around the league in recent seasons and played on a veteran’s minimum contract — approximately $2.12MM — with the Magic last season. The cap hit on the contract was $1.47MM and the league paid the difference.

Speights, whose career began in 2008/09 with the Sixers, is best known for playing with the Warriors for three seasons. He won a ring in 2015.

He appeared in all 82 regular-season games with the Clippers in 2016/17, then moved on to the Magic last season. He saw action in 52 games, including three starts, and averaged 7.7 PPG and 2.6 RPG in 13.0 MPG.

The 6’10” Speights shot an above-average 36.9% from long range while taking a career-high 4.5 attempts per game.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2018: Orlando Magic

Despite some unsavory long-term contracts, the Magic have plenty of cap space lined up for the 2018/19 season. For that reason, and the obvious one that they haven’t sniffed a .500 record the last six seasons, the franchise is very much a blank canvas heading forward.

Last season was the first year at the helm for new president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and general manager John Hammond, and they played things rather safe, inking a handful of serviceable, if forgettable, veterans to modest deals and calling it an offseason. This summer we may get our first look at what their long-term plans for the franchise are.

Arron Afflalo, SG, 32 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
While the once-vaunted perimeter defender previously came with a hefty price tag, the Magic managed to snag Afflalo on a cheap deal this past season. You can’t fault the squad for the speculative leadership add considering the lack of identity on the roster, but there’s no obvious reason to expect the veteran to want to return after a forgettable 2017/18. Afflalo played just 12.9 minutes per game this season and literally can’t do any worse on the open market than he did last time when he landed a minimum contract on a terrible team that couldn’t even be bothered to give him consistent playing time. That’s not a knock on either party — sometimes things just aren’t a good fit — but I expect the journeyman to seek a more substantive role for the first time since his stint in Denver.

Aaron Gordon, PF, 22 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $18MM contract in 2014
The Magic have all the flexibility in the world to accommodate a sizable Gordon deal and the combo forward is intriguing enough to convince at least one other team to make a generous offer. While it’s hard to say with certainty that Gordon can carry this franchise on his back given that he hasn’t really done so in four seasons, it’s equally hard to fault a team for pouncing on the opportunity to lock in an All-Star-adjacent asset that hasn’t even turned 23 yet. Could Gordon yield the max contract that he’s said to be seeking? It seems within reach, even if the Magic or any other team that commits to it ends up slightly underwhelmed.

Mario Hezonja, SF, 23 (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $12MM contract in 2015Mario Hezonja of the Orlando Magic vertical
The Magic turned down the fourth-year option on Hezonja’s rookie contract and the swingman responded with the most memorable season of his young career so far. In 11 February contests Hezonja averaged 15.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, briefly showcasing that he could potentially be relied upon as an offensive weapon if given the opportunity. Nothing precludes the Magic from putting an offer on the table to bring him back this summer, but they can’t give him a starting salary higher than the value of the option they turned down ($5.17MM). Regardless, declining that option suggests the front office may have already made up its mind about his future with the team. Hezonja should draw interest elsewhere and could end up as a modest rotation player.

Marreese Speights, C, 30 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
Speights went from chipping in for four straight Western Conference contenders to a decidedly less competitive Magic squad, but don’t overlook the fact that the veteran established himself as a leader on a team in his home state. While there won’t be a shortage of space or money to bring Speights back in 2018/19, it’s reasonable to believe he’ll at least consider offers that could put him back in a position to contend. Speights was, and remains, an intriguing stretch big capable of filling the stat sheet in limited minutes off the bench. He won’t be any team’s top priority but he’s worth more than what he made this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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 NBA.com. 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.