Maurice Harkless

Northwest Notes: D. Harris, Crowder, Harkless, Wolves

Devin Harris is happy to have another shot at the postseason in Denver, relays Gina Mizell of The Denver Post. The veteran guard found his way back into the playoff race on Thursday when he was shipped from the Mavericks to the Nuggets in a three-team trade. Harris was preparing for a game at Golden State when he heard about the deal, then caught a flight to Dallas and then Phoenix to join his new team in time for Saturday’s game.

At age 34, Harris brings not just experience to Denver’s young backcourt, but playoff experience. He has been in 64 postseason games, including a trip to the Finals with Dallas in 2006.

“I don’t want to be playing golf right now,” Harris said. “I’d rather be playing meaningful basketball.”

There’s more tonight from the Northwest Division:

  • Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey has been a longtime fan of Jae Crowder, who was acquired Thursday in a three-team deal, says Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News. Crowder made an immediate impact in his Utah debut with 15 points and four rebounds in tonight’s win over the Trail Blazers“He’s really versatile defensively and can play really two through four with switches and physicality,” Lindsey said. “His build is quite obvious and the systems that he’s played in with Dallas, Boston and Cleveland, we’ve seen enough to think that he can mesh very well in how we play. We’re really anxious to get him here.” Lindsay also said as many as 20 teams asked about Rodney Hood before he decided to send him to Cleveland in that deal.
  • The recent re-emergence of Maurice Harkless has created a dilemma for Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts, according to Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest. The team’s former starting forward got expanded playing time this week because of injuries to other players and has convinced Stotts to expand his rotation, at least temporarily. “I think it’s just being back in the rotation,’’ Harkless said in explaining his recent success. “It’s hard to not know if you are going to play, how much you are going to play, then get thrown out there for six minutes. It’s tough to play like that and be consistent.’’
  • The Timberwolves were quiet at the deadline, and Michael Rand and Chris Hine of The Star Tribune make a case for why that was probably Minnesota’s best option.

Latest On Thunder’s Search For Wing Help

With Andre Roberson sidelined for the rest of the season, the Thunder are on the lookout for help on the wing. With less than 48 hours left until the arrival of this year’s trade deadline, let’s check in on the latest reports on OKC’s options…

  • There’s a “growing expectation” that the Thunder will make a move in advance of the trade deadline, since there’s a lot riding on this season, says ESPN’s Royce Young. Oklahoma City would prefer not to give up rookie Terrance Ferguson in a deal for a veteran rental though, Young adds.
  • TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter link) identifies Maurice Harkless and Tony Allen as two potential targets to watch for the Thunder. Harkless would be an interesting fit, though it may be difficult for the Trail Blazers and Thunder to figure out a deal, since both teams are projected taxpayers and will be reluctant to add salary. As for Allen, Aldridge tweets that the veteran swingman has been cleared to play after recovering from his broken leg, but will need some time to get back to full speed.
  • The Thunder have done “due diligence” on Clippers guard Avery Bradley and Magic swingman Jonathon Simmons, per Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports. Mannix suggests that the Thunder might wait until closer to the deadline in the hopes that teams’ asking prices come down, noting that they could also wait until after the deadline and take their chances on what’s expected to be a “robust” buyout market.
  • Within his trade deadline preview, Jake Fischer of SI.com writes that the Thunder have shown interest in Clippers guard Lou Williams and expressed “serious” interest in Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans.
  • Oklahoma City has also been linked to Rodney Hood.

Woj/Lowe On Blazers, Jordan, Cavs, Hornets

With the February 8 trade deadline right around the corner, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski appeared this morning on Zach Lowe’s Lowe Post podcast to address some rumors and discuss some trade possibilities for teams around the NBA. While Wojnarowski and Lowe didn’t drop any bombshells during their hour-long conversation, the duo did share several items of note, so let’s dive in and round up some highlights…

  • Although the Trail Blazers had interest in Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, Wojnarowski hears that Portland has “backed away” as of late. According to Woj, it’s “entirely possible” that Jordan won’t get traded at all this week — the Clips may prefer to simply let him walk in free agency rather than taking on a bad contract or two in order to get a late first-round pick back in a trade.
  • Wojnarowski and Lowe discussed Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick at length, exploring what sort of deal would entice the Cavaliers to surrender that first-rounder. The duo agreed that Cleveland wouldn’t offer it to the Clippers for Jordan. In Woj’s view, it would take a Paul George-type veteran or a young star on a rookie contract to get the Cavs to part with that pick, but that sort of player isn’t really available.
  • The Cavaliers and Hornets have “definitely talked,” with those conversations presumed to have focused on Kemba Walker. That doesn’t mean that any deal is likely though, as virtually every team with any sort of need at point guard has checked in with the Hornets about Walker, per Wojnarowski.
  • Despite ongoing speculation that they’ll need to break up their star backcourt at some point, the Trail Blazers have “summarily rejected” any inquiries on Damian Lillard and/or C.J. McCollum, says Lowe. Maurice Harkless is a more realistic trade candidate in Portland, according to Wojnarowski, who says the Kings are one team that has had interest in Harkless in the past.
  • While the Nets aren’t necessarily looking to trade Spencer Dinwiddie, they’d have to consider it if they could get a first-round pick, according to Lowe. Woj agreed with that assessment.

Embiid Bonus Could Affect Sixers’ Cap Space

Joel Embiid‘s strong start could lead to a bonus that would affect the Sixers’ ability to compete on the free agent market next summer, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN.

The second-year center signed a five-year extension over the summer that has a base value of $146MM, but could rise as high as $178MM if he reaches certain benchmarks. That includes a hefty bonus if he is named Most Valuable Player or earns first-team All-NBA honors this season. Embiid, who came into tonight averaging 22.9 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, is certainly a candidate to make the All-NBA team at center, especially with the injury to Rudy Gobert and the move of Anthony Davis to power forward.

The bonus would raise Embiid’s cap hit from $25.3MM to $30.3MM for 2018/19 and would cost Philadelphia $5MM in cap space for each subsequent year of the contract. The Sixers have nearly $32MM in projected cap room right now, not counting $1.6MM team options for T.J. McConnell and Richaun Holmes, so $5MM could affect their ability to offer a full max contract.

Emiid’s contract also contains a minutes clause that could boost his future earnings. He can make his contract fully guaranteed starting in 2020/21 or 2021/22 if he plays at least 1,650 minutes in three consecutive years or three out of four starting with this season. He has accumulated 532 minutes in 18 games, putting him on pace to reach that figure for this year.

Marks passes on a few other tidbits related to contract incentives:

  • The punch from Bobby Portis that hospitalized Nikola Mirotic has cost the Bulls forward $1MM in bonuses. Mirotic had four benchmarks valued at $250K each, and although each was unlikely, he needed to play 65 games to be eligible and he has already missed 20.
  • Nets guard Jeremy Lin, who played just one game this season before needing knee surgery, missed a chance to earn several bonuses worth $750K.
  • Nuggets forward Paul Millsap has a $500K incentive for making the All-Star team, which is impossible after wrist surgery that will keep him sidelined until after the February 18 game. Millsap had been an All-Star the past four seasons in the East. He also would receive a $150K bonus for playing 65 games and averaging seven rebounds per 36 minutes, but that’s out of reach because of the injury. He can still get $150K if the Nuggets make the playoffs, but for now his cap hit for next season will be cut from $29.7MM to $29.2MM.
  • Gobert took the biggest hit because of injury, which could cost him up to $2MM. The Jazz center, who is not expected back until the middle of the month because of a bone bruise in his right knee, had a pair of $250K incentives based on 67 games played, along with a $500K bonus for being named first team All-Defense and $1MM for making the All-Star game.
  • Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon needs his scoring and rebounding averages to total more than 16 to collect a $900K bonus. He was at 11.1 PPG and 7.8 RPG before his recent injury.
  • The Trail Blazers could see a smaller luxury tax bill if Maurice Harkless continues to struggle with his three-point shot. Currently shooting 24.3% from distance, Harkless needs to reach 35% at the end of the season to get a $500K bonus. If he falls short, Portland’s tax bill will dip from $4.3MM to $3.5MM.

Knicks, Nets Have Inquired On Blazers’ Picks

The Trail Blazers are reportedly open to discussing their three first-round picks in trades that would allow them to move salary, and it appears they’ve received interest from a pair of New York clubs. According to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, the Knicks and Nets have inquired about Portland’s first-round picks.

As Deveney details, talks between the Blazers and Knicks are “ongoing,” with New York having asked about some combination of the 15th, 20th, and 26th overall selections. While it’s possible the Knicks could move down from No. 8, it’s more likely that they’d want to pick up a second first-rounder to add to that lottery selection. We heard earlier this month that the Knicks had discussed the possibility of acquiring a second first-round pick in a trade.

Meanwhile, the Nets have also inquired about Portland’s picks, and could be an intriguing trade partner. Allen Crabbe, who has a $19.33MM cap hit for 2017/18, is one potential trade candidate for the Blazers as they look to clear salary, and it was Brooklyn that signed Crabbe to that pricey four-year offer sheet last summer. If the Nets still have interest in Crabbe and are willing to take on his substantial contract and trade kicker, there could be a match there. In that scenario, the two teams would have to wait until after the one-year anniversary of Crabbe’s 2016 signing, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post noted when he explored the subject.

The Blazers currently have more than $133MM in guaranteed salary on their books for 2017/18, and that number would rise further if they use their draft picks and sign those players, which is why the team is open to moving a pick or two to clear some salary and perhaps get out of tax territory. As I noted on Wednesday, Crabbe, Evan Turner ($17.13MM), and Meyers Leonard ($9.9MM) are among the candidates for a salary dump. Maurice Harkless ($9.66MM) could also be on the block, though he’d have a little more value.

Northwest Rumors: Thunder, Wolves, Rubio, Blazers

In the wake of a historic regular-season performance that could earn Russell Westbrook an MVP award, Lee Jenkins of SI.com and Royce Young of ESPN.com took deep dives this week into Oklahoma City’s year, providing several interesting tidbits in their pieces. Jenkins, for instance, reports that several high-ranking executives in the Thunder‘s front office rejected job offers from rival teams within the last year, as those clubs anticipated a “post-Durant exodus” that never materialized.

Meanwhile, Young writes that after Durant left for Golden State last July, the Thunder did their due diligence by fielding trade calls on Westbrook from a number of teams, but “never remotely considered” trading their star point guard. If Westbrook had turned down the opportunity to sign an extension with OKC, the Thunder’s stance may have shifted, but the team preferred to lock up Westbrook for multiple years rather than to consider moving him.

Here are a few more notes and rumors from across the Northwest division:

  • Timberwolves head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau held his end-of-season press conference today, expressing a desire to bring back potential RFA Shabazz Muhammad, and suggesting that his club’s most pressing offseason needs are defense (specifically on the wing), shot-blocking, and shooting (link via 5 Eyewitness News).
  • Asked earlier this week if he wants to remain in Minnesota and win with the Timberwolves, Ricky Rubio said he wants to win, but was noncommittal about whether it will happen with the Wolves, noting that that decision is ultimately up to the team (link via Marca.com; translation via HoopsHype).
  • The Trail Blazers will avoid the luxury tax by the slimmest of margins after Maurice Harkless earned a $500K bonus for shooting over 35% on three-pointers. According to Bobby Marks of The Vertical (Twitter link), Portland will finish $4,462 below the tax line. By comparison, the one-day minimum salary for a rookie this season was worth $3,197.
  • After being relied on as a top scoring threat for years, Joe Johnson has thrived this year in a reduced role and as a veteran mentor for the Jazz, writes Kareem Copeland of The Associated Press. Johnson remains under contract for one more year.

Northwest Notes: Stephenson, Turner, Blazers

Newly acquired Timberwolves guard Lance Stephenson squared off against his former team Friday and Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry had nothing but positive things to say about the 26-year-old journeyman, writes Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.

We had no problem whatsoever with him,” Gentry said regarding New Orleans’ decision to waive the then-15th man on their roster after a groin injury in November. “As a matter of fact, he probably raised our energy level as much as anyone. I think he’ll be fine. He’s playing for a great [Timberwolves] coach who loves energy and toughness and stuff like that.”

The Pelicans faced criticism at the time for parting ways with Stephenson as he recovered from the long-term injury but did so to free up space on their roster for Archie Goodwin (who has since been waived). Now Stephenson is back at full strength and on a 10-day contract looking to stick in Minnesota with a Timberwolves roster led by head coach Tom Thibodeau.

In two games with the Timberwolves so far, Stephenson has posted 3.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 16.0 minutes per game. He’ll make $72K with Minnesota over the duration of his 10-day contract, in addition to the $1.2MM he’s owed by the Pelicans.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • The news that Trail Blazers swingman Evan Turner will miss 5-6 weeks comes just as the offseason acquisition was starting to find a rhythm in Portland, writes Mike Richman of The Oregonian. Turner’s absence could thrust Allen Crabbe and Moe Harkless into a bigger role defensively where Turner had been checking the opposing team’s most potent perimeter threat. In the same column, Richman also discusses the progress that Al-Farouq Aminu has made on the offensive end since being relegated to the bench.
  • With a 23-31 record, the Trail Blazers remain very much in the hunt for the final Western Conference playoff berth (Denver sits in the eight-seed at 24-29) but TNT analyst Kenny Smith is skeptical that they have enough resources. “I don’t think they have a lot of talent, honestly. I think that’s the problem,” Smith said. Molly Blue of The Oregonian relayed both Smith’s and Charles Barkley‘s reservations about the guard-heavy roster.
  • When budding Nuggets star Nikola Jokic dropped 40 points on the Knicks Friday, he became just the second Denver player to do so in Madison Square Garden, writes Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post. The last? David Thompson in 1978,

Magic Notes: Dragic, Crabbe, Vucevic, Harkless

Orlando is among several teams that have contacted the Heat about Goran Dragic, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. The Magic are looking to solidify their point guard position, which belonged to Elfrid Payton when the season began, but was taken over by D.J. Augustin in late November. Dragic still has three years and more than $54MM left on his current contract. He is averaging 19.0 points and 6.5 assists in 32 games this season, but has missed time recently with back problems.

There’s more news today out of Orlando:

  • After losing six of their last seven and dropping to 16-24, the Magic need to act quickly to save their season, writes Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel. Offense has been a problem for Orlando all year, and Schmitz says the team needs to find a scorer who can create his own shot. He suggests Allen Crabbe of the Trail Blazers as a realistic target and suggests offering, possibly with shot-blocking center Bismack Biyombo going to Portland in return.
  • Nikola Vucevic will be back in the starting lineup tonight, with Biyombo coming off the bench, according to Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Vucevic was demoted along with Payton in the November shakeup. Coach Frank Vogel plans to utilize more “small-ball” lineups with Jeff Green moving to power forward and Mario Hezonja back in the rotation as a backup small forward.
  • The Magic made a huge error when they gave up on Maurice Harkless two years ago, Robbins argues in a separate piece. After three disappointing seasons in Orlando, Harkless was traded to Portland in the summer of 2015 in exchange for a second-round draft pick in 2020. He was a regular starter for the Blazers during last year’s playoffs and has started all 40 games in which he has appeared this season. “It was a tough situation: a lot of guys trying to figure it out, including the staff and the front office,” Harkless said of his time in Orlando. “It was a unique situation. It was tough. Obviously, it wasn’t going to work out for everybody. I think a change of scenery is what I needed.”

Stein’s Latest: Rockets, Cavaliers, Blazers, Pistons

ESPN.com’s Marc Stein takes a swing at picking the All-Star starters from each conference and passes along some trade rumors in his latest column. He lists four teams that could be active with the deadline less than six weeks away:

  • The Rockets‘ hopes of acquiring Mike Dunleavy Jr. fell through this week when the Hawks committed to keeping him, but Houston is still looking for another shooter. GM Daryl Morey tried to get involved when Atlanta was searching for a third team in its deal with Cleveland, and he had interest in acquiring Dunleavy when it looked like he might not report to the Hawks. Sources tell Stein that K.J. McDaniels has surpassed Corey Brewer as the Rocket most likely to be traded. McDaniels has one season left on his current deal at more than $3.3MM, while Brewer is signed for one more more season at $7.6MM.
  • The Cavaliers have $4.4MM left from their Anderson Varejao trade exception, which will expire February 20th. That means a trade for a backup point guard may be just as likely as a veteran free agent signing such as Mario ChalmersJarrett Jack or Norris Cole.
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has moved ahead of Reggie Jackson on the list of untouchable Pistons in possible trades. Caldwell-Pope is now atop that list alongside Andre Drummond. Detroit is well below .500 since Jackson returned from tendinitis in his left knee in early December. Jackson, whose 5.5 assists per game are the lowest during his time in Detroit, still has three seasons and more than $51MM left on his current deal.
  • Three Trail Blazers who signed huge offseason deals will become eligible to be traded on Sunday. Keep an eye on whether Portland tries to unload some of the salary it committed to Allen Crabbe, Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard.

Northwest Notes: Turner, Blazers, Lauvergne, Payne

Evan Turner says it’s nice to know he’s missed in Boston, even as he struggles to find a role in Portland, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Turner accepted a four-year, $70MM deal this summer to head to the Pacific Northwest. However, the Trail Blazers haven’t used him as a primary ballhandler the way the Celtics did, and he has found it hard to adjust to a backcourt rotation with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum“I was most definitely comfortable there [in Boston],” Turner said. “There were certain situations where there were coaches that didn’t really sort of comprehend my game, and sometimes I wasn’t always in position to be comfortable or successful. So when you finally find that mixture of great basketball and off the court and things like that, you definitely don’t take it for granted.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Blazers haven’t shown significant improvement so far despite raising their payroll from $62MM to $112MM, contends Bobby Marks of The Vertical. Portland will have a hard time shaking things up until at least December 15th when the trade restrictions expire for Turner and Festus Ezeli. Restrictions for Allen Crabbe, Meyers Leonard and Maurice Harkless will remain in effect until January 15th. Crabbe cannot be traded without his approval for a year because the Blazers matched an offer sheet from Brooklyn.
  • Offseason addition Joffrey Lauvergne is taking away minutes from Enes Kanter in Oklahoma City, notes Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. Lauvergne, acquired in an August trade with the Nuggets, has impressed the Thunder with a combination of defense and long-range shooting. “A lot of it’s going to be based on matchups, how the game’s going, who’s alongside of him, do we have the speed and quickness in the frontcourt,” OKC coach Billy Donovan said when asked about Kanter’s playing time. “That’s not to say the last couple of games with Enes, with his minutes, he’s not going to play more because I do think he and Steven [Adams] together is a good combination for us.”
  • Timberwolves forward Adreian Payne‘s option wasn’t picked up last month, but his role with the team is growing, writes Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. Payne got a chance to show what he could do after Shabazz Muhammad was sidelined with a sore knee. “Being patient is part of the NBA, being ready,” Payne said. “You just have to continue to work. Just going through this has been tough. It can break a lot of people. You just have to stay positive and continue to work.”
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