Mohamed Bamba

Southeast Rumors: Harris, Ross, Bamba, Washington, Knox, More

The Magic are believed to be asking for a first-round pick in exchange for each of Gary Harris, Terrence Ross, and Mohamed Bamba, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. That asking price is more justifiable for some of those players than others, but I’m skeptical that Orlando will be able to get a first-rounder for any of the three unless the pick is heavily protected or the Magic take back some bad money.

Fischer says rival teams with interest in those players believe Orlando’s asking price may drop as the trade deadline nears. In some cases, the Magic could end up seeking two second-rounders, which was what they accepted in return for Evan Fournier at last season’s deadline.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • According to Fischer, Hornets forward P.J. Washington is a candidate to be moved at the February 10 trade deadline. Fischer suggests Charlotte may be facing a bit of a roster crunch this summer with team salary on the rise, and Washington could be the odd man out. The third-year forward is extension-eligible in the 2022 offseason and would reached restricted free agency in 2023 if he doesn’t sign a new deal this year.
  • The protected first-round pick the Hawks received in exchange for Cam Reddish was the primary motivator to make the trade, but Kevin Knox may not have just been a salary throw-in. Sources tell Fred Katz and Chris Kirschner of The Athletic that Atlanta has no plans to trade or release Knox right now.
  • According to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link), The Hawks sent the Knicks $834,589 in cash in the Reddish trade. That amount covers the salary still owed to Solomon Hill, so Atlanta didn’t save any money as a result of including Hill in the deal — the team did open up a roster spot though.
  • Wizards guard Spencer Dinwiddie has been cleared to play in both ends of back-to-backs after not doing so during the first half, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Dinwiddie, coming off an ACL tear in 2020/21, played on both Tuesday and Wednesday for Washington.

Trade Rumors: Simmons, T. Harris, Magic, Wolves, Cavs

After reporting last week that the Sixers‘ preferred outcome would be to have Ben Simmons play for the team this season and then revisit his trade market in the offseason, Marc Stein said in his latest Substack article that teams around the NBA are skeptical about that stance. As Stein notes, it could be a negotiating ploy to try to get potential trade partners to improve their offers, since the odds of Simmons acquiescing to Philadelphia’s wishes and reporting to the team this season still appear extremely slim.

Stein also reported last week that the Hawks are a team to watch in the Simmons sweepstakes, a subject that ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Marc J. Spears discussed in the latest episode of Windhorst’s Hoop Collective podcast.

As RealGM relays, Windhorst and Spears have both heard the Sixers are exploring the concept of attaching Tobias Harris to Simmons in any deal. Theoretically, those two players could produce a greater trade return than Simmons on his own, but Harris’ shooting numbers are down this year and his contract isn’t exactly team-friendly — he and Simmons are earning a combined $69MM this season, which would create salary-matching complications.

According to Spears, the Hawks were more interested in discussing just Simmons than trying to construct a deal that also included Harris.

Here are a few more trade rumors and notes from across the league:

COVID-19 Updates: Magic, Trail Blazers, Rockets, Pacers

Here are the latest updates on players and coaches entering and exiting the NBA’s coronavirus health and safety protocols:

  • Four Magic players have cleared the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols and will suit up for Orlando against the Celtics. The team has announced (Twitter link) that center Mohamed Bamba, shooting guard Mychal Mulder, swingman Terrence Ross and point guard Hassani Gravett are all now available.
  • Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups, who has been unavailable since December 27, has exited the NBA’s coronavirus protocols, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Portland lead assistant Scott Brooks, who had been serving in Billups’s stead as acting head coach, has entered COVID-19 protocols, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Hardship signee Cameron McGriff has entered the protocols, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter). Combo guard Anfernee Simons has left protocols after just three days, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The 13-22 Trail Blazers could certainly use all the help they can get, and the return of the 6’3″ guard will help shore up a team still missing seven players to health and safety protocols, with McGriff now replacing Simons in coronavirus protocols.
  • Rockets wing Garrison Mathews has cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Houston rewarded Mathews for a solid performance early in the 2021/22 season by converting his two-way contract into a fresh four-year, $8MM deal last month.
  • Pacers small forwards Caris LeVert and T.J. Warren, plus center Goga Bitadze, have entered the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Warren has been dealing with a major foot injury since the start of 2020/21, and has only played in four games over the past two seasons. Today’s news brings Indiana’s total count for players in protocols to eight.
  • After exiting the protocols on Friday, Pistons guard Cory Joseph has re-entered them, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News.

Magic Sign Four Players To 10-Day Contracts

The Magic have called up four players from their G League affiliate, signing swingman B.J. Johnson, guard Hassani Gravett, and forwards Admiral Schofield and Aleem Ford to 10-day contracts, the team announced today in a press release. All four Lakeland Magic players were signed using hardship exceptions.

As we detailed earlier today, the Magic found themselves shorthanded after Ignas Brazdeikis, Terrence Ross, Moritz Wagner, and R.J. Hampton entered the health and safety protocols. Orlando is also missing Jalen Suggs, Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac, Michael Carter-Williams, and E’Twaun Moore due to long-term injuries, raising questions about whether the team would have the minimum required eight players available for Friday’s game vs. Miami.

Since then, Mohamed Bamba has also entered the health and safety protocols, according to the Magic (Twitter link). However, with four G League call-ups joining the seven remaining players on the NBA squad, Orlando should be able to move forward with its schedule for the time being.

Of Orlando’s four newly-added players, two – Johnson and Schofield – have NBA experience. Johnson has also been Lakeland’s leading scorer so far this season, putting up 24.7 PPG on .462/.344/.821 shooting in his first 10 games (34.5 MPG).

Schofield has averaged 14.4 PPG and 7.3 RPG in 12 G League games (33.0 MPG), while Gravett has recorded 13.6 PPG, 5.8 APG, and 5.2 RPG in 12 games (34.5 MPG) and Ford has posted 9.6 PPG and 4.4 RPG in 12 games (28.1 MPG).

The hardship provision allows teams with several players unavailable due to injuries or the health and safety protocols to add extra players on a temporary basis.

Trade Rumors: Sabonis, Kemba, Celtics, Pelicans, Magic

On an episode of The Ringer’s podcast The Mismatch last week, Kevin O’Connor mentioned that Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis wants out of Indiana. The comment was made in passing and wasn’t expanded upon by O’Connor in any subsequent article or tweet, so it wasn’t clear whether it was something he was reporting or something he’d heard but hadn’t fully confirmed.

Following up on that rumor, Matt Moore of Action Network says he has also heard from multiple sources that Sabonis wants out of Indiana, adding that the big man’s desire for a change of scenery dates back to last season. However, all of Sabonis’ public comments have indicated that he’s happy to stick with the Pacers, and Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files, who is plugged in with the team, called O’Connor’s initial report “false” (Twitter link).

The Pacers are reportedly open to the idea of moving Sabonis, so whether or not he wants to be dealt may ultimately be a moot point — Indiana could trade him either way.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the league:

  • Knicks guard Kemba Walker hasn’t generated much – if any – trade interest from rival teams, since his knees are viewed as too much of a risk, Moore reports.
  • Two sources who spoke to Moore suggested the Celtics are more likely to pursue a third impact player to add to their core of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, rather than breaking up the duo.
  • The Bulls are in the market for a wing defender who could come off the bench, says Moore.
  • Some executives were surprised by Jake Fischer’s report that the Pelicans could be buyers this season, since they’d gotten the impression New Orleans is more interested in long-term assets, Moore writes. Josh Hart is viewed as possibly the most likely trade candidate on the Pels’ roster, Moore adds.
  • Despite Mohamed Bamba‘s strong season, the Magic are considered unlikely to discuss center Wendell Carter Jr. in trades, per Moore, who notes that the team also hasn’t yet indicated that Bamba is available.
  • According to Moore, the Thunder are a good candidate to be a third team in a Ben Simmons trade, since Sam Presti and Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey have had multiple past dealings and Oklahoma City is well positioned to take on unwanted contracts.

Eastern Notes: Randle, Middleton, Celtics, Bogdanovic, Bamba

With the Knicks going through rough times, leadership is essential. However, Julius Randle‘s personality doesn’t lend itself to that role, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Randle, who was signed to a $106MM+ extension, doesn’t fit the mold of a vocal leader and can occasionally be a loner in the locker room, according to Berman.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Khris Middleton suffered a hyperextended left knee on Monday but Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer is optimistic the injury isn’t significant, Tim Bontemps of ESPN tweets“We’ll know more (Tuesday), but I think there’s some hope that it’s not serious,” he said. “But you’ve got to weigh it and give it time.”
  • Celtics president Brad Stevens needs to shake up the roster, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer opines. Rather than dealing one of his stars, Stevens needs to improve the supporting cast by moving veterans such as Marcus Smart, Josh Richardson and Al Horford or young players such as Robert Williams and Romeo Langford, according to O’Connor, who adds that shooting and play-making should be the top priorities in any potential deal.
  • Hawks swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic, sidelined since late November by a right ankle sprain, has progressed to individual on-court workouts, Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. Bogdanovic underwent an MRI shortly after spraining the ankle and the team at that time said he’d miss at least two weeks of action.
  • Magic center Mohamed Bamba suffered a right ankle sprain on Sunday, Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel reports. It’s unclear how much time Bamba might miss due to the injury, which occurred during the third quarter of the team’s game against the Lakers.

Southeast Notes: Bertans, Harrell, Bamba, Reddish

Wizards forward Davis Bertans is set to return to the lineup Wednesday, per our JD Shaw (Twitter link). Bertans has been sidelined the past 10 games with an ankle sprain.

We noted yesterday that bertans practiced with the Capital City Go-Go in the G League and was a game-time decision against the Hornets. However, he ended up missing the game and will instead make his return tomorrow against the Pelicans.

Bertans was off to a slow start this season; through seven games, he’s averaging 6.1 PPG and 1.7 RPG in 16.9 MPG, with a .342/.333/1.000 shooting line.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Montrezl Harrell, an unrestricted free agent in 2022, is off to a terrific start with the Wizards, averaging 17.5 PPG, 9.0 RPG, and 2.3 APG (28.4 MPG) through 17 contests. Josh Robbins of The Athletic explores how much Harrell might earn in free agency. Robbins says if Bradley Beal decides to stay with the team, and assuming Harrell maintains his production, he could see the Wizards offering him a contract in the range of $10-14MM annually. He points to Christian Wood (three years, $41MM) and Richaun Holmes (four years, $46.5MM) as recent examples of contracts in that range.
  • Fourth-year center Mohamed Bamba, who’ll be a restricted free agent this summer if the Magic tender him a qualifying offer, recently gave a Q&A with Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Bamba says he’s happy in Orlando and thinks the team has a lot of potential. “I think the sky’s the limit for this young group. We have a lot of talent, and we have a lot of depth at every position. I’m excited to be a part of this. I’m excited to wear Orlando across my chest. I’m just focusing on the now and the moment,” Bamba said.
  • Hawks wing Cam Reddish is showing progress in his third season, according to Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Star Trae Young says good things happen when Reddish is in attack-mode on offense. “He’s just stepping right in and playing his role, going hard on defense, and then on the offensive end we want him to attack, be aggressive and for me personally I love when he’s going to the basket and he’s making plays and he’s talking mess, just being himself, you know what I’m saying?” Young said. “I think that’s when you get the best version of Cam, when he’s playing like that.” Reddish will be eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer.

Southeast Notes: Tucker, Kuzma, Avdija, Harrell, Magic

New starting Heat power forward P.J. Tucker has grown comfortable taking on the less-heralded dirty work necessary for contending clubs to thrive, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

“If you want recognition, then my job isn’t a job for you,” Tucker said. “I don’t do highlights. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me.” A 36-year-old veteran, Tucker most recently served as a key three-and-D contributor on the 2021 champion Bucks before signing a two-year, $15MM deal with the Heat in free agency. In 13 games with Miami, Tucker is averaging 6.2 PPG and 6.5 RPG. The 8-5 Heat are currently the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.

“He’s just a winning player,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said of Tucker. “You’ll notice it when he’s on the other team’s best player defensively. But it’s the block-outs, it’s the rotations, it’s the protect-side defense, and then offensively just getting people open constantly. And he does it in every way possible, whether he’s screening pick-and-roll basketball or off-ball screening. He’s just elite in helping guys get open.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Wizards forwards Kyle Kuzma and Deni Avdija are building a quick chemistry both on the hardwood and beyond it, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington“I think that he does a great job defending, that’s the No. 1 thing I love about him,” Kuzma said of Avdija. “He’ll mix it up, he’ll defend. He’s coachable, you can talk to him, he receives things. He’s a very sweet kid, a very sweet kid.” Surprisingly, the new-look Wizards have emerged with an Eastern Conference-leading 9-3 record to start the season, and the team’s depth around All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal is a big reason why. “He’s very professional, he loves the game and likes to work extra,” Avdija said of Kuzma. “Guys that like to work and want to do extra shots or extra work, I’m always getting along with them because I’ve got that mindset, too.”
  • New additions Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma have brought a relentlessness to an improved Wizards team, writes Spencer Davies of Basketball News. “They were around in September, so we didn’t wait ’til the first official day of training camp to say, ‘Hey, let’s start putting in work,'” new head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “Those guys were trying to play together, do a small side of [pickup] games, get workouts [in], finding ways to be on the floor and build that chemistry. So it’s paid off for us thus far.” Kuzma explained why he and Harrell appear to be helping contribute to wins right away. “We know how to win in this league. Trezz has always been an underdog his whole entire career being a second-round pick and fighting his way through the G League and all the way to being the Sixth Man [of the Year].”
  • Though the rebuilding 3-10 Magic are currently the lowest-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, Austin David of the Orlando Sentinel contends that the team’s young players are showing plenty of promise. Orlando may be struggling to score consistently, but intriguing prospects like point guard Cole Anthony, rookie wing Franz Wagner and even big man Mohamed Bamba have given fans plenty to watch thus far. “We’re a young team that won’t take anything from anybody,” an optimistic Bamba said. “We just want to be a smash-mouth team, making winning plays for not only themselves, but for each other. It’s truly a domino effect.”

Ayton, Sexton Among Players Who Don’t Agree To Extensions

While 11 players received rookie scale extensions this offseason, many notable players didn’t reach an agreement with their respective teams prior to Monday’s deadline.

As we detailed earlier, the Suns couldn’t come to terms with the No. 1 pick of the 2018 draft, Deandre Ayton. Phoenix was unwilling to offer Ayton a full max contract, which short-circuited any hopes of an agreement.

The Suns raised the concept of a shorter maximum contract — presumably for three or four years instead of the full five years — but never formally made the offer or broached the idea again with Ayton’s reps, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst report. Ayton is unhappy with the franchise’s consistent stance that it simply doesn’t view him as a max player, the ESPN duo adds.

That adds an intriguing subplot to Phoenix’s drive to make the Finals again. Ayton will be headed toward restricted free agent next summer. Will he be motivated toward proving the front office wrong or will his unhappiness create a major distraction? Ayton could be the most attractive free agent on next year’s market and receive a giant offer sheet, which would force the Suns to decide to match it or let their franchise center walk away.

Ayton has some company among his peers. The Cavaliers and guard Collin Sexton were unable to reach an agreement and he’s headed toward restricted free agency, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. Even though Sexton posted impressive offensive stats last season (24.3 PPG, 4.4 APG), his name was frequently mentioned in trade rumors this summer, a signal that the Cavs aren’t sold on the eighth pick of the 2018 draft as their long-term floor leader.

Sexton was hoping for a $100MM+, multi-year deal that aligned with his production over the first three years, Fedor reports. At one point this offseason, Sexton used De’Aaron Fox‘s five-year, $163MM extension in 2020 as a baseline. The Cavs were unwilling to go anywhere near that number and optimism waned in recent days about reaching an agreement.

The Hornets and swingman Miles Bridges also couldn’t come to terms, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets, nor could the Spurs and Lonnie Walker, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News tweets. Bridges averaged 12.7 PPG and 6.0 RPG last season, while Walker contributed 11.2 PPG in his third year.

Donte DiVincenzo, a key member of the Bucks’ rotation last season until he suffered a torn ligament in his ankle in July, is also headed to restricted free agency. DiVincenzo averaged 10.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 3.1 APG last season. Some of the other notables who didn’t sign an extension or were not offered one include the Kings’ Marvin Bagley III and the Magic’s Mohamed Bamba.

The list of players who did and did not receive rookie scale extensions can be found here.

Magic Notes: Carter, Bamba, Anthony, Trade Exception

The new four-year extension for center Wendell Carter Jr. is a good deal for both him and the Magic, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Robbins sees the $50MM extension as a much safer investment than the five-year, $100MM contract the Cavaliers gave Jarrett Allen this summer. Carter, who was acquired from the Bulls in March, is a year younger than Allen and appears to have a long career ahead as a reliable big man who can rebound and switch on defense.

New head coach Jamahl Mosley has asked Carter to start taking more three-pointers and has used him at power forward during the preseason alongside Mo Bamba. With Jonathan Isaac and Chuma Okeke both sidelined by injuries, Carter and Bamba could be in the starting lineup for Wednesday’s season opener.

“The one thing that helps him is that he’s got great, active feet, and I think him understanding who’s a shooter, a non-shooter, those are going to be some scenarios that we’re going to have to continue to monitor,” Mosley said about Carter’s ability to defend outside the lane. “But I think he did a really good job of understanding how he could guard some of these fours in the league.”

There’s more from Orlando:

  • The Magic have one more day to work out an extension with Bamba, but Robbins doesn’t expect it to happen. He notes that Bamba was slowed by an injury and then COVID-19 during his first two offseasons, and this summer was his first chance to really improve his conditioning. If Bamba turns in a strong season, he could be in demand as a restricted free agent in July.
  • Cole Anthony was productive in the preseason after a disappointing performance during Summer League, Robbins notes in a separate story. Anthony may have been dealing with an injury in Las Vegas as he said, “It’s a world’s difference just how much better I feel right now.” He will likely start the season as the back-up point guard, although that could change when Markelle Fultz returns after offseason knee surgery.
  • The Magic are in position to make a significant move before the trade deadline, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. Orlando has a $17.1MM trade exception after sending Evan Fournier to the Celtics last season, along with $22.5MM in breathing room below the tax line.