Maurice Harkless

Blazers Notes: Hood, Kanter, McCollum, Aldridge

Shooting guard Rodney Hood surprised the Trail Blazers by accepting the $5.72MM taxpayer mid-level exception, Jason Quick of The Athletic reports.

Portland was hoping to bring back center Enes Kanter at that number, but he balked. Blazers GM Neil Olshey thought Hood wanted more in free agency but was pleasantly surprised by Hood’s decision.

Olshey then shifted gears to finding a starting-quality center and got involved in the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade to Miami, winding up with Hassan Whiteside by dealing Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard.

We have more on the Blazers:

  • Backcourt partners CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard are now locked up long-term after McCollum signed a three-year, $100MM extension and they’re excited about that prospect, as he told Quick in a separate story. “It’s a special time,” McCollum said. “(Lillard and I) talked about being in Portland, making a staple here and winning a championship here, and all those things. We’ve crossed off a lot of goals individually and collectively, but I think that both of us being here for the long haul, and both of us being able to grow together and win together is something that people will remember for a long time.”
  • Pau Gasol, who recently signed with the Blazers, said former Spurs teammate LaMarcus Aldridge has spoken highly of Portland and may want to play there again, Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report tweets. Aldridge said last season he and Lillard had spoken about the prospect of becoming teammates again. Aldridge’s $24MM contract for the 2020/21 season is not guaranteed, so it’s conceivable that could occur as soon as next summer.
  • If you missed the details on McCollum’s extension, you can find it all here.

Latest On Andre Iguodala

The Rockets and Clippers continue to be the two teams most seriously pursuing Grizzlies swingman Andre Iguodala, Shams Charania of Stadium reports (video link). However both Houston and Los Angeles “seem to be at a standstill” in talks with Memphis, per Charania.

According to Charania, the Rockets aren’t entirely comfortable with the idea of going deep into luxury-tax territory for Iguodala. While Charania doesn’t specify what exactly Houston’s package would look like, he refers to “a potential sign-and-trade” — that would likely involve Iman Shumpert attached to a draft pick, as I wrote last Friday.

Currently, Houston’s team salary is below the tax line, but taking on Iguodala’s $17MM+ salary without sending out any guaranteed money could bump the Rockets’ projected tax bill up to about $20MM, says Charania.

As for the Clippers, Maurice Harkless‘ expiring contract is the most logical salary-matching trade chip for L.A. in any deal involving Iguodala. However, Charania hears that the Clips don’t want to part with Harkless in an Iguodala trade.

Both the Rockets and Clippers have explored three- or four-team scenarios that might work for Iguodala, per Charania, but that’s probably a long shot. Meanwhile, the Mavericks and Nuggets have also engaged with the Grizzlies on Iguodala, but neither team has really gained any real traction in trade discussions.

Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link) previously suggested there’s a belief in league circles that the Grizzlies may be leaning toward keeping Iggy on their roster into the season unless they receive a trade offer that includes a first-round pick. We’ll see if that ends up being the case if no potential suitors meet their asking price.

Cavaliers Notes: Love, Smith, Iguodala, Bolden

The Cavaliers aren’t making an effort to deal Kevin Love, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. On the surface, Love appears to be a prime trade candidate. He’s nearly 31 on a rebuilding team, is coming off toe surgery that limited him to 22 games last season and has a four-year, $120MM extension that’s about to kick in.

However, Cleveland doesn’t view Love’s contract as burdensome. A five-time All-Star, he’s easily the team’s best player if he can stay healthy and provides a positive role model for a young roster. New coach John Beilein wants to keep Love around because he’ll take pressure off his teammates to develop quickly.

Cavs management will listen to offers for Love, but it would take a formidable deal to move him anytime soon. Fedor sees the Heat as a possibility because they are searching for a second star to team with Jimmy Butler and have both young players such as Tyler Herro, Meyers Leonard, Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow who would interest Cleveland, plus big contracts in James Johnson, Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters to help match Love’s $28.9MM salary. Fedor expects the front office to hold onto Love for a while and reassess its options closer to the trade deadline.

There’s more out of Cleveland, all courtesy of Fedor:

  • Tomorrow is the new guarantee date for J.R. Smith, but it can be pushed back to August 1 if the Cavs can’t work out a trade. The original date had been June 30, but Smith agreed to an extension last month in exchange for an increase in guaranteed money from $3.9MM to $4.37MM. Smith’s trade value can be counted at the full $15.68MM because he signed his contract before that rule was changed, but Cleveland hasn’t been able to find any takers for the 33-year-old guard. Management has been surprised by the lack of interest in Smith, Fedor adds, believing its offers in salary-dump situations were better than the ones that were accepted. The Cavs have also been “shocked” by some of the bad contracts teams are trying to get them to take.
  • The Cavaliers tried to obtain Andre Iguodala from the Warriors, and sources tell Fedor they asked for less than the future first-rounder and cash that Memphis received for taking on Iguodala’s $17.1MM contract. However, Golden State wanted to create a large trade exception and saw that as more valuable than the cap relief Smith would have provided. Cleveland was also involved in talks to facilitate the Butler trade by taking Maurice Harkless from the Trail Blazers, but he wound up with the Clippers, who received a 2023 first-rounder from Miami.
  • Former Duke big man Marques Bolden is receiving strong consideration for a two-way contract. The Cavaliers believe he never got a full chance to display his talents in college and can develop into an effective NBA center. “In college you don’t have space,” said Summer League head coach Antonio Lang. “Here you have space and he can create space if he continues to roll hard. Everything you look for in a big he has, he just has to be more efficient with his footwork and learn the game more. That comes with practice and time. He’s more suited for the NBA game.”

Iguodala Drawing Interest From At Least Five Teams

1:53pm: In addition to the Rockets, Clippers, and Mavericks, the Nuggets and Lakers also have interest in Iguodala, tweets Stein.

Stein first mentioned Denver’s interest in Iguodala in his newsletter last week, though Amick tweets that the Nuggets view Memphis’ asking price as too high. If they do make a play for Iggy, Mason Plumlee‘s expiring $14MM contract would be their best salary-matching piece.

As for the Lakers, they have no clear path to matching Iguodala’s salary until after December 15, so they’re an unlikely suitor unless he’s bought out.

11:32am: After acquiring Russell Westbrook from Oklahoma City, the Rockets‘ top priority will be to find a way to land veteran forward Andre Iguodala, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic.

According to Amick, Houston continues to push to acquire Iguodala from the Grizzlies via trade. The Clippers are also known to be among the most serious suitors for the former Warrior, Amick adds.

In order to match Iguodala’s $17,185,185 salary, the Rockets or Clippers would have to send out at least $12,185,185 in salary of their own, which will be difficult, but not impossible.

Los Angeles could use Maurice Harkless‘ $11,511,234 expiring contract, but would have to include at least one more piece — likely either Jerome Robinson or one of their 2019 draftees. Those two 2019 draft picks (Mfiondu Kabengele and Terance Mann) can’t be dealt until at least August 9 after signing on Tuesday.

The Rockets, meanwhile, probably wouldn’t want to move Clint Capela, P.J. Tucker, or Eric Gordon for Iguodala, so a sign-and-trade involving Iman Shumpert could be their most viable path for matching salaries. Shumpert would have to sign a three-year contract in that scenario, but only the first year would need to be fully guaranteed. He could sign for exactly $12,185,185, and presumably he’d be open to the idea, since he won’t receive that kind of money from any other team as a free agent.

Although Amick doesn’t name any other suitors for Iguodala, Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com suggests that the Mavericks are interested in the former Finals MVP too, and are willing to offer Courtney Lee‘s expiring contract and a second-round pick. Lee has a $12,759,670 cap hit, so no additional players would need to be added to such an offer for matching purposes. However, the Grizzlies don’t appear to have interest in taking on Lee, according to Fisher.

The Grizzlies acquired Iguodala as a salary dump, receiving a future first-round pick and cash from the Warriors for their troubles, so if they’re able to flip him and acquire positive assets, they’ll be coming out ahead.

Still, Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link) says there’s a belief in league circles that Memphis may be leaning toward keeping Iggy on their roster into the season unless they receive a trade offer that includes a first-round pick.

Heat Acquire Jimmy Butler In Sign-And-Trade

The Heat have officially acquired Jimmy Butler from the Sixers in a sign-and-trade deal that also includes the Trail Blazers and the Clippers, according to press releases from Miami and Philadelphia.

The Heat also acquired big man Meyers Leonard from the Trail Blazers and cash considerations from the Clippers. Miami sent shooting guard Josh Richardson to Philadelphia, center Hassan Whiteside to the Blazers and a conditional first-round pick to the Clippers. The Clippers also received forward Maurice Harkless from Portland and the draft rights to 2017 second-round pick Mathias Lessort from the Sixers.

The Clippers and Blazers have also confirmed the swap.

The 2023 first-rounder that the Heat forwarded to the Clippers, which is lottery-protected through 2025 and unprotected in 2026, was subsequently moved to the Thunder as part of the agreed-upon Paul George blockbuster.

Butler inked a four-year, $141MM contract with the Heat. Miami waived forward Ryan Anderson and stretched his contract in order to stay below the hard cap and complete the sign-and-trade.

“Jimmy’s leadership, tenacity, professionalism, defensive disposition and his ability to create his own shot will improve our roster immediately,” Miami president Pat Riley said in the press release. “Any time you can add a four-time All-Star to your roster, you make that move. Meyers is a versatile big, a great shooter, can play inside and block shots. The addition of both men puts us in a great position to win.”

The disgruntled Butler was dealt by Minnesota to Philadelphia last season. The Sixers wanted to retain Butler but couldn’t convince him to stay and got something for him via the sign-and-trade mechanism. In 65 total games for the Wolves and Sixers last season, Butler averaged 18.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.0 APG, and 1.9 SPG with a .462/.347/.855 shooting line. Richardson averaged a career-high 16.6 PPG and 4.1 APG last season.

Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey called the acquisition of Whiteside an “impact move for our roster.” The Blazers were looking for a starting center with Jusuf Nurkic on the mend from a serious leg injury.

Heat’s Jimmy Butler Sign-And-Trade Deal To Include Clippers, Blazers

7:58pm: The 2023 first-round pick being sent from the Heat to Clippers will be lottery-protected through 2025, then unprotected in 2026, tweets Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

5:00pm: The Clippers will receive a protected 2023 first-round pick from the Heat in the deal, according to ESPN’s full report.

4:17pm: The sign-and-trade deal that will send Jimmy Butler to the Heat and Josh Richardson to the Sixers has been agreed upon, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe (Twitter link).

As Wojnarowski explains (via Twitter), the trade between the Trail Blazers and Heat that will send Hassan Whiteside to Portland is becoming part of the transaction, with Maurice Harkless being re-routed to the Clippers to make it a four-team deal.

The Clippers will also receive a future first-round pick from Miami, according to Wojnarowski. Since the Heat have already traded their 2021 first-round selection to the Clippers and can’t give away consecutive future first-rounders, the next one that is trade-eligible would be the 2023 selection, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

As part of the four-team swap, the Sixers will send the draft rights to 2017 second-rounder Mathias Lessort to the Clippers, reports Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link).

As of now then, this is what the deal would look like:

After acquiring Harkless, the Clippers will still have a maximum-salary slot available in the event that Kawhi Leonard decides to join them, tweets Marks. It would be a tight fit though, notes ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who tweets that the club might have to renounce a couple of small cap holds. Obviously, if Leonard decides to go elsewhere, that wouldn’t be necessary.

As for the Heat, they had let Goran Dragic‘s camp know that they’d likely to need to move the point guard in order to complete the Butler acquisition, but that shouldn’t be necessary after all, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Still, as Marks points out (via Twitter), Miami will have to make an additional move to make sure it gets below the hard cap $138.9MM that applies to teams that acquire a player via sign-and-trade. Waiving and stretching Ryan Anderson‘s contract looks like the most logical path for the Heat.

We have more details in other stories on the Butler/Richardson aspect of this deal, as well as the Blazers’ Whiteside acquisition.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Heat To Trade Hassan Whiteside To Blazers

The Heat have reached an agreement on a trade to send center Hassan Whiteside to the Trail Blazers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com, who reports (via Twitter) that Portland is giving up Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard in the deal.

[UPDATE: Harkless to be re-routed to Clippers in four-team trade]

In acquiring Whiteside, the Blazers will secure a replacement at the five for Enes Kanter, who looks like a good bet to sign elsewhere. Whiteside figures to start at center for the Trail Blazers while Jusuf Nurkic continues to recover from a leg injury that is expected to sideline him well into the 2019/20 regular season.

Whiteside, 30, saw his role in Miami decline over the last couple years, but continued to put up strong numbers on a per-minute basis. In 72 games in 2018/19, the big man averaged 12.3 PPG, 11.3 RPG, and 1.9 BPG in just 23.3 minutes per contest.

While the Blazers will fortify their center position in the deal, their perimeter defense will take another hit. Having already lost Al-Farouq Aminu in free agency to Orlando, Portland will now part with Harkless as well. Newly-acquired forward Kent Bazemore will be leaned on heavily to help replace that duo.

As for the Heat, they’ll move on from Whiteside, who hadn’t been thrilled about having his minutes cut back during the last two seasons, publicly griping about his role on more than one occasion. Miami won’t have to take back any long-term salary in the deal, as all three players are on expiring contracts, and will save about $4.8MM based on the difference in salaries between Whiteside ($27.1MM) and the combo of Leonard ($11.3MM) and Harkless ($11MM).

Those savings could come in handy, since the Heat will face a hard cap of $138.9MM by acquiring Jimmy Butler via sign-and-trade. Speaking of that Butler trade, cap expert Albert Nahmad notes (via Twitter) that moving Whiteside won’t help solve the salary-matching issue Miami faces in that deal, so at least one more move will be required.

With Whiteside out of the picture, Bam Adebayo projects to take an ever larger role in Miami’s frontcourt.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Blazers Notes: Ownership, Nurkic, Hood, Kanter

While there’s a perception in NBA circles that the Trail Blazers‘ ownership situation is unsettled in the wake of Paul Allen‘s death last fall, the team’s head of basketball operations, Neil Olshey, doesn’t subscribe to that notion, as Jason Quick of The Athletic relays.

“Nothing is unsettled. Jody is our owner,” Olshey said during the Blazers’ exit interviews, referring to Paul’s sister Jody Allen. “She has been fantastic in terms of engagement. She has addressed the team when we’ve asked her to. She was really emotional after the OKC series, that was the validation, knowing how much Paul believed in the core of this group and to see it come to fruition.

“Jody stepped up and spoke to the team in a way that resonated with everybody and struck a chord with the players and staff and everyone there that she has our back, she has a vision for the franchise, she believes in the group, she cares about the players, and the magnitude of what she has had to take on,” Olshey continued, per Quick. “At a time when we needed ownership to show solidarity with the front office, the coaching staff, the business division, she was there for us.”

Allen has exhibited that commitment to the franchise since Portland’s season ended earlier this month, having locked up Olshey and head coach Terry Stotts to contract extensions.

Here’s more on the Blazers:

  • According to Olshey (via Quick), injured Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic is making “great progress” from his broken left leg. While the team hasn’t offered a specific recovery timetable for Nurkic, Quick speculates that the big man could be ready to return to action sometime just before next season’s All-Star break. “Guys can’t believe where he is relative to what they saw only four weeks ago,” Olshey said of Nurkic. “He is a core piece to this roster, a foundational piece going forward, and we are going to drive him. But also knowing we are going to do what’s best for Nurk on a long-term basis in terms of his recovery and his timeline.”
  • The Blazers aren’t expecting to be able to retain Rodney Hood or Enes Kanter using the taxpayer mid-level exception (projected to be worth about $5.7MM), writes Quick. If the club can shed enough salary to gain access to the full mid-level exception – or Hood and Kanter don’t receive as much interest as anticipated – Hood would likely be the priority over Kanter, in Quick’s view.
  • Quick doesn’t expect the Blazers’ three big expiring contracts for Evan Turner, Meyers Leonard, and Maurice Harkless to garner a ton of interest on the trade market this offseason, contending that they could become more intriguing trade chips during the season.
  • Former St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds is set to work out for the Trail Blazers on Friday, tweets Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com. According to Quick, Portland will likely only hold “three or four” pre-draft workouts since the club has just one pick (No. 25) in this year’s draft.

Moe Harkless Sprains Ankle, Questionable For Game 3

Maurice Harkless underwent an MRI on his right ankle and the results confirmed that it’s a sprain, as the Trail BlazersTwitter feed relays. Harkless is questionable for Game 3 against the Nuggets.

The combo forward played in 60 games for Portland this season, starting 53 of those contests. He’s started in every game for the Blazers this postseason, averaging 9.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks in the six games leading up to Game 2, in which he suffered the injury.

Harkless, who made approximately $10.8MM this year, has one year left on the four-year, $40MM deal he signed in July of 2016. That was the offseason when the NBA’s cap spiked, paving the way for many players to sign lucrative deals that today appear outlandish. Harkless’ pact seems like one of the most team-friendly deals among those signed during the shopping-spree summer.

Jake Layman, who started 33 games this year, came out with the rest of the first unit to begin the second half in Game 2 on Wednesday. Layman, Rodney Hood, and Seth Curry are among those who could see additional minutes if Harkless misses time.

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Millsap, Murray, Harkless, Nuggets

The Trail Blazers are focused on executing their game plan more than using their emotion for Sunday’s Game 4 in Oklahoma City, Sekou Smith of NBA.com writes. 

Portland will look to take a 3-1 series lead in a hostile playoff environment and quiet the boisterous Thunder crowd, one of the league’s toughest arenas to win games in.

“We’ve just got to focus on us,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “We’ve got to be us and do what we do and all of the peripheral stuff … doesn’t have to do with us.”

The Blazers protected home court in Games 1 and 2, jumping out to a 2-0 series lead. Stealing Game 4 on Sunday would allow the team to wrap the series up in five games at their arena on Tuesday, but the mission will prove to be challenging.

“It’s going to be talk, it’s going to be fouls, it’s going to be all that stuff. All that stuff is going to be part of it. But it’s who can deal with that stuff and not be too emotional,” Lillard said on Saturday, one day after a crazy Game 3 atmosphere. “Who can be more even-keeled. Who can handle it more and still have the right mentality through all of those things. And we just stay within ourselves, play hard and we compete.

“And if something is brought to our doorstep, we’re going to open the door and see what’s going on. And that’s all it was. Because we don’t go out there talking and acting no type of way. But like I said, if it comes to our doorstep, we’re going to open the door and see what’s going on.”

There’s more today from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets forward Paul Millsap opened up on “little brother” and teammate Jamal Murray, as detailed by Mike Singer of the Denver Post. “The main thing is just playing the game,” Millsap said of Murray. “Not getting focused on what people want him to do but just playing the game. Seeing him having 19 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds instead of focusing in on just scoring and trying to be going for 50 every single night. He’s actually playing the game now, and I’m super proud of him by how far he’s come.”
  • Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless was fined $15,000 for throwing his headband into the spectator stands during Game 3 of the team’s series against Oklahoma City, the league announced on Saturday. Harkless’ incident marks the fifth separate fine the NBA has issued since the weekend began.
  • Nuggets coach Mike Malone made a change to his starting lineup in Game 4 against San Antonio, starting Torrey Craig in place of Will Barton. The adjustment played a part in Denver stealing a road victory and regaining homecourt advantage, with Craig scoring 18 points and grabbing 8 rebounds in 37 minutes. “Torrey’s size and physicality, his hustle, like Torrey Craig was leaving it all on the floor, which I love,” Malone previously said after Game 3, as relayed by Mike Singer in a different story for the Denver Post. “And then Malik’s obviously shooting (well).  He’s been one of our best offensive players this whole series, shooting the ball very confidently. Attacking the basket and also playing pretty good defense. Both of those guys warrant more minutes, and I’m sure they’ll both get a great chance to play extended minutes [in Game 4].”