Nerlens Noel

Central Notes: Osman, Hill, Pistons Rotation

Cedi Osman has heard his name mentioned in trade rumors, including a potential deal involving Suns forward Jae Crowder. He’s trying to block out those distractions during training camp, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes.

“I’ve been hearing those things,” the Cavaliers forward said. “But I’m just focused on my basketball because you cannot control that. That’s why whenever I stepped on a court I was just working on my game and trying to get better. It’s been six years since coming over, six years in Cleveland. I’m happy here and this is my home.”

Those rumors persist and the franchise would like to upgrade at small forward, if possible, though the fact that Cleveland is close to the luxury tax line complicates the issue, Fedor adds.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • George Hill admits that enduring an injury-plagued season actually encouraged him to keep playing, Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The Bucks guard had seriously considered retiring after last season. “I felt like I let the city of Milwaukee down last year not being able to perform the way I normally perform,” he said. “I let my teammates down being injured. And I thought about retiring. … but as a competitor I didn’t want to go out like that. So, had a great offseason for the summer, decided to come back and try to redeem myself and make myself better.” Hill signed a two-year, $8MM contract prior to last season.
  • With the addition of Bojan Bogdanovic, how will the Pistons’ frontcourt rotation shake out? James Edwards III of The Athletic projects the former Jazz forward to start alongside Saddiq Bey, with Isaiah Stewart at center. Edwards projects Marvin Bagley and Isaiah Livers as part of the second unit ahead of Jalen Duren, Nerlens Noel and Kevin Knox.
  • Will the Pistons’ drought without a playoff win extend to 15 seasons? That’s what John Hollinger of The Athletic anticipates. He sees this as a 28-win season in Detroit with the caveat that the team’s fortunes should improve sharply in the near future.

Central Notes: Middleton, Lopez, Stewart, Bagley, Bey

Khris Middleton won’t be ready to play by opening night as he recovers from wrist surgery. Joe Ingles is still rehabbing from a major knee injury.

So who will step up in their place? Eric Nehm of The Athletic examines potential lineup combinations the Bucks may use in their absence. Pat Connaughton will likely start until Middleton returns, though Jordan Nwora and MarJon Beauchamp will have opportunities to establish themselves as rotation pieces. Wesley Matthews and Grayson Allen will fight for minutes at shooting guard.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Middleton has a $40.4MM option on his contract for the 2023/24 season, while center Brook Lopez will be an unrestricted free agent unless he signs an extension. However, there hasn’t been any buzz about it at Bucks camp, Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. In fact, Lopez claims that “I wasn’t exactly aware this was a contract year” until the subject was brought up.
  • Isaiah Stewart and Marvin Bagley may be more suited to playing center but they’ll both see action at times at power forward this season, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. That will allow Nerlens Noel and rookie Jalen Duren to get some minutes off the bench. “It’s tough,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “What’s going to have to manifest itself is – it’s not natural right now – for Isaiah to kind of slide to the four just to open some spots for everybody.”
  • While most of the attention regarding the Pistons is focused on their young backcourt of Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey, third-year forward Saddiq Bey has served notice that he could be an offensive force this season, according to James Edwards III of The Athletic. “He’s putting the ball on the floor a lot better, finding guys a lot better,” reserve guard Cory Joseph said. “We know how he can score and the attention he’s going to get. He’s making the game better for himself and everyone around him right now. He’s playing really well.”

Pistons Finalize Camp Roster, Announce Injury Updates

The Pistons officially announced their training camp roster on Monday, and it includes two new names. According to the team, guards Jules Bernard and Stanley Umude have signed Exhibit 10 contracts, filling out the 20-man roster.

Bernard, a 6’7″ swingman, went undrafted out of UCLA earlier this year. As a senior in 2021/22, he averaged 12.8 PPG and 4.7 RPG with a shooting line of .419/.337/.818 in 35 games (30.1 MPG). He subsequently played for the Pistons’ Summer League team in Las Vegas.

Umude, whose agreement with the Pistons was previously reported, spent his first four college seasons at South Dakota from 2017-21, averaging 21.6 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and 3.0 APG as a senior in 2020/21. He transferred to Arkansas for his “super-senior” season last year and played more of a complementary role for the Razorbacks, putting up 11.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 1.1 APG on .460/.371/.724 shooting in 37 games (27.8 MPG).

Like Bernard, Umude went undrafted and then played for the Pistons’ Summer League team in July. Both players will likely end up playing for the Motor City Cruise, Detroit’s G League affiliate.

Here are a few more updates from the Pistons today:

  • While Kemba Walker is listed on Detroit’s training camp roster, he’s marked as “not with team,” which had been expected. Bojan Bogdanovic is the lone Piston missing from the team’s camp roster — while NBA.com’s transaction log indicates the trade sending him to Detroit was completed last Thursday, he may still need to conduct a physical with his new team before it’s officially official.
  • In a separate press release, the Pistons announced that guard Alec Burks will miss the start of training camp as he continues his rehab following a navicular fracture. Burks will be reevaluated in three weeks, according to the team.
  • Kevin Knox (right gastroc strain) and Nerlens Noel (reconditioning / plantar fasciitis) will be limited participants to open training camp, the Pistons announced.

And-Ones: Schröder, Free Agents, Hammon, Noel, Paul

Free agent guard Dennis Schröder continues to make a case to NBA teams for a contract offer. He scored a team-high 26 points and added five assists until he got ejected in the late going of Germany’s 107-96 victory over Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greece in the EuroBasket quarterfinals, as Eurohoops.net relays.

Magic second-year forward Franz Wagner added 19 points for the victors. Antetokounmpo was ejected with five minutes remaining for committing his second unsportsmanlike foul.

There’s a “rising buzz” in league circles regarding Schröder’s job prospects, Marc Stein tweets.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Speaking of free agents, Eric Pincus notes in a Bleacher Report post that there are plenty of veterans still looking for jobs. Pincus takes a closer look at where players like Schröder, Eric Bledsoe, Carmelo Anthony, Blake Griffin and others might land.
  • Becky Hammon is showing NBA teams what they’re missing after she wasn’t offered a head coaching position, Nancy Armour of USA Today opines. Hammon has the Las Vegas Aces on the verge of a WNBA championship with a more creative offense while maintaining a solid defense. The former Spurs assistant was passed over the Orlando and Portland head coaching jobs in 2021.
  • Nerlens Noel‘s $58MM lawsuit against Rich Paul and Klutch Sports Group has been dismissed, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal tweets. As previously noted, the case is instead heading to NBPA arbitration. The judge ruled a “valid, enforceable agreement to arbitrate” existed between the parties.

And-Ones: Russell, Noel, Paul, Team USA, Baker

Bill Russell‘s No. 6 will be retired throughout the league and another Hall of Famer, Alonzo Mourning, said it was much-deserved honor, Marc J. Spears of Andscape writes.

“We still need to celebrate his name, because he paved the way during a time where he had to deal with so many different obstacles,” Mourning said. “Not just on the court, but off the court. He paved the way for all of us.”

Mourning and Jerry West were on stage at the Hall of Fame’s annual ceremony over the weekend to honor Russell before the Class of 2022 was inducted.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Pistons center Nerlens Noel‘s lawsuit against agent Rich Paul is headed to arbitration, Michael McCann of Sportico reports in a subscribers-only article. Noel sued Paul last August, alleging that the agent’s negotiating tactics during 2017 cost him a four-year, $70MM extension with Dallas.
  • USA Basketball wound up with the bronze medal in the AmeriCup by defeating Canada 84-80 (Twitter link). Former NBA forward Gary Clark led the way with 18 points. Argentina, having defeated Team USA in the semifinals, earned the gold medal with a victory over Brazil.
  • The G League Lakeland Magic acquired the returning player rights to forward Robert Baker from the Stockton Kings in exchange for a 2022 second-round pick, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Baker, 24, appeared in 26 games with the Stockton Kings last season and one Summer League game with the Thunder.

Knicks Trade Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks To Pistons

JULY 11: The Knicks and Pistons have officially completed their trade, the teams announced today in a pair of press releases.

As expected, the Pistons acquired Noel, Burks, cash, and the team’s own 2023 second-round pick. The second pick Detroit received will be either Minnesota’s or New York’s 2026 second-rounder, rather than the heavily protected Miami 2024 second-rounder described below.

The Knicks, meanwhile, received the draft rights to 2015 second-rounder Nikola Radicevic and a protected 2025 second-round pick. That pick will have top-55 protection, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic.


JUNE 28: The Knicks are trading center Nerlens Noel and guard Alec Burks to the Pistons, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

The Knicks will unload more than $19MM in 2022/23 salary in the deal, providing ample cap space to sign free agent guard Jalen Brunson. Noel has a $9.24MM salary next season, while Burks is due approximately $10MM.

Both players are signed through the 2023/24 season, but there are team options in the final year of their respective contracts — Noel at $9.68MM and Burks at approximately $10.5MM. Thus, those salaries could come off the Pistons’ cap next summer.

New York will send Detroit back its 2023 second-round pick, plus the Heat’s 2024 second-round pick (top-55 protected) and $6MM in cash as sweeteners to take those contracts off its books, Wojnarowski reports in a separate tweet.

The Pistons can absorb those salaries without sending out any contracts, since they were projected to have more cap space than any other team. The Knicks, meanwhile, should have now the cap room necessary to sign Jalen Brunson in free agency.

The Knicks and Pistons were also involved in a three-way draft-night agreement that included the Hornets. In that trade, Detroit took Kemba Walker‘s contract off New York’s books and acquired the draft rights to Jalen Duren.

The Pistons plan on keeping Burks and Noel, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Burks, a 38% career 3-point shooter, will give the Pistons a perimeter threat on the wing who can help mentor the young backcourt of Cade Cunningham and rookie Jaden Ivey. Noel provides depth in the middle behind Isaiah Stewart and Duren.

Despite the addition of Noel, the Pistons are still committed to bringing back restricted free agent Marvin Bagley III, Omari Sankofa of the Detroit Free Press tweets.

Eastern Notes: Clifford, Pistons, Smart, Raptors, Sixers

Although the Hornets fired him as head coach following the 2017/18 season, Steve Clifford still had a good relationship with general manager Mitch Kupchak and owner Michael Jordan, writes Steve Reed of The Associated Press. Those ties resulted in Clifford getting his old job back after Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson pulled out of an agreement to coach the team.

“You want to evolve and get better at what you do,” Clifford said Tuesday at his introductory press conference. “I have coached a lot more games than I had when I was here the first time and worked with another team. You learn a lot from that.”

Clifford was brought in to fix a defense that ranked 22nd in the league this season, and he told reporters that will be an emphasis. Clifford doesn’t plan major changes to the offense, which will continue with a fast-paced philosophy led by LaMelo Ball.

“We are going to play offensively with a very similar emphasis that they have played with the last couple of years,” Clifford said. “Offense starts with playing through the strengths of your best players and Ball is a great talent with a passion for the game and a flair for playing in the open court and we want to take advantage of that.”

There’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Acquiring Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks from the Knicks will give the Pistons greater flexibility next offseason, observes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Detroit will have team options on both players for 2023/24 and can create $19MM in cap room by letting them go. With Cory Joseph and Hamidou Diallo both on expiring contracts, Kelly Olynyk holding a $3MM partial guarantee and DeAndre Jordan‘s $7.9MM in dead money coming off the books, the Pistons should have north of $45MM in cap space for 2023, Edwards writes.
  • Celtics guard Marcus Smart barely notices anymore when he’s the subject of trade talks, tweets basketball writer Mark Murphy. “Every year my name is in talks, and I’m still here,” Smart said. “I’m still the longest tenured Celtic. So I take it as a compliment. It means you’re valued pretty high and if your name is talked about people want you. But I don’t pay much attention.”
  • The Raptors are expected to target centers in free agency with Isaiah Hartenstein and Thomas Bryant being players to watch, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca.
  • Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice examines the Sixers‘ options in free agency and looks at how James Harden‘s option decision will impact the team’s cap situation.

Knicks Strong Frontrunners For Brunson, Expected To Offer $110MM

10:08pm: The Knicks intend to offer Brunson a four-year contract worth approximately $110MM, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets.


4:53pm: The Mavericks have believed for the last couple weeks that Brunson is headed to the Knicks, according to Tim Cato of The Athletic, who tweets that it’s viewed as a virtual “certainty” at this point.


4:01pm: It’s “widely anticipated” that free agent point guard Jalen Brunson will land with the Knicks in free agency on a four-year deal worth more than $100MM, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link).

Marc Stein has heard similar rumblings, tweeting that there’s a “growing resignation” from the Mavericks‘ end that New York is Brunson’s first choice and his inevitable destination.

The Knicks project to have about $17MM in cap room if they waive Taj Gibson and his non-guaranteed salary, so they’d need to make at least one move to create the flexibility necessary to offer $25MM+ per year to Brunson. However, they could realistically get there by trading either Alec Burks or Nerlens Noel — both players have been involved in recent trade rumors, with Ian Begley of SNY.tv suggesting the Nets and Raptors are among the teams to register some interest in Noel.

Brunson and the Knicks have been linked to one another for months. As has been repeated ad nauseam, Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose is Brunson’s former agent, Rose’s son Sam Rose is Brunson’s current agent, and Brunson’s father Rick Brunson was recently hired as a Knicks assistant.

Still, the Mavericks had long projected confidence in their ability to re-sign Brunson. Although the point guard will be an unrestricted free agent, Dallas holds his Bird rights, giving the team the ability to offer him more money and more years than any other suitor. But the Mavs’ confidence appears to be waning with free agency right around the corner.

According to Chris Mannix of SI.com (Twitter link), part of the Knicks’ pitch to Brunson is the ability to be the full-time starting point guard. In Dallas, he’s more of a secondary option at the position, with Luka Doncic running the show.

The Knicks don’t view Brunson as a “potential franchise-altering savior,” per Begley, but rather as an important piece of the process. The 25-year-old is considered to be a good fit for the timeline of some of New York’s other young players, Begley adds.

The Mavs project to be far over the cap, limiting their ability to secure an adequate replacement for Brunson if he does head to New York. If Dallas knows Brunson is leaving, the team could attempt to work out a sign-and-trade agreement with the Knicks, but may not have much leverage to do so if New York has cap room available for a $100MM+ offer.

Clippers, Knicks Have Discussed Possible Nerlens Noel Trade

The Clippers and Knicks have engaged in “exploratory” discussions about a possible trade involving center Nerlens Noel, league sources Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

The Knicks are attempting to clear the cap room necessary to make a serious run at free agent point guard Jalen Brunson and have a surplus of future draft picks to offer a team willing to take on Noel’s contract, which will pay him $9.24MM in 2022/23. Moving Noel would increase their projected cap room to approximately $25MM.

The Clippers, meanwhile, have a trade exception big enough to take on Noel’s contract without sending out any salary and may view him as a solid rotation option at center, especially if free agent big man Isaiah Hartenstein doesn’t remain in Los Angeles.

The Clippers already project to be a taxpayer and would increase their luxury tax bill exponentially by adding another $9MM+ contract to their books, but Steve Ballmer is one of the richest owners in sports, so that may not be a pressing concern. The opportunity to help an Eastern Conference club pry away a key free agent from a Western rival may also provide some extra incentive as the Clippers mull a potential deal.

Here’s more from Scotto on free agency and the trade market:

  • Four NBA executives who spoke to Scotto believe that Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons could sign a contract in the four-year, $80MM range, perhaps with incentives that could further increase its value.
  • Based on conversations with six league executives, Scotto writes that Warriors center Kevon Looney could command upwards of $9MM per year as a free agent this summer, while guard Gary Payton II could earn $6-7MM annually. Looney is reportedly considered likely to re-sign with Golden State.
  • On draft night, the Pistons landed center Jalen Duren with the No. 13 pick after agreeing to a deal involving New York and Charlotte. If they hadn’t been able to reach an agreement for the No. 13 pick and Duren slipped to No. 14, the Pistons had discussed offering multiple picks, including a future first-rounder, to the Cavaliers, says Scotto. It’s unclear if Cleveland would’ve had any interest in such an offer.

New York Rumors: Knicks, Brunson, Burks, Nets, Claxton, Kyrie

The Knicks have “legitimate optimism” about their chances of signing free agent point guard Jalen Brunson, Ian Begley of SNY.tv reports, citing people in touch with the organization since the draft.

Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report conveyed a similar sentiment during his latest podcast, suggesting that the Knicks may have moved ahead of the Mavericks as the favorites to lock up Brunson long-term this offseason (hat tip to HoopsHype).

As Begley observes, the Knicks still have some work to do if they want to create the cap room necessary to make Brunson a strong offer — trading either Alec Burks or Nerlens Noel may be the most likely path to opening up that space.

Burks underwent foot surgery this spring after the Knicks’ season ended, and while that procedure has reportedly hurt his trade value, Begley says there are still multiple teams with some interest in the veteran guard, including the Celtics.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York teams:

  • Fred Katz of The Athletic spoke to 16 officials in NBA front offices to get a sense of how much they’d be willing to offer RJ Barrett in extension talks this offseason if they were running the Knicks. According to Katz, the responses ranged from $15-30MM per year, with no one saying they would go up to the max. A four-year, $100MM offer was the most-cited suggestion, Katz adds.
  • In the latest episode of his Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said that restricted free agent center Nic Claxton appears likely to remain with the Nets (audio link via Jac Manuell of Nets Republic). “The word is amongst executives, I’ve talked to a couple of executives today who believe that Nic Claxton will be back with the Nets, that that’s been worked out,” Windhorst said. “I shouldn’t say it’s been worked out. There’s an understanding.”
  • In the same podcast, Windhorst wondered whether or not the standoff between the Nets and Kyrie Irving has truly been put to bed after Irving announced he’ll pick up his player option for 2022/23. “I was told that the option pick-up came as a total surprise to the Nets, that they found out when everybody else did,” Windhorst said, per NetsDaily. “… The people that I talk to in the league are skeptical that Kyrie is going to be ‘all for one and one for all’ on this. … The people who are in the business to earn the business are telling me, ‘No, Kyrie actually has leverage here,’ because now he’s making the $36 million, he’s got his money and he can make life hell.”
  • In an Insider-only story for ESPN.com, Kevin Pelton considers what’s next for the Nets now that Irving has decided to opt in.