Pelicans Rumors

Rudy Gobert Named Defensive Player Of Year For Fourth Time

Rudy Gobert has been named the Defensive Player of the Year for the fourth time in his career, the NBA announced on Tuesday (via Twitter).

The Timberwolves center joins Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace as the only four-time winners of the award. Gobert also claimed the award in 2018, 2019, and 2021 when he played for Utah.

Spurs big man Victor Wembanyama, who was unanimously voted the Rookie of the Year on Tuesday, finished second in the voting, with the Heat‘s Bam Adebayo a distant third.

Gobert was the league’s second-leading rebounder (12.9 per game) and sixth-leading shot-blocker (2.1). More significantly, he anchored a Timberwolves defense that held opponents to a league-low 106.5 points per game during the regular season. Minnesota was also best in defensive field goal percentage, limiting opponents to 39.0 percent shooting.

Gobert received 72 of a possible 99 first-place votes while compiling 433 points. Wembanyama, who was the league’s top shot-blocker at 3.6 per game, received 19 first-place votes and earned 245 points.

Adebayo received three first-place votes and wound up with 91 points, eight more than fourth-place finisher Anthony Davis of the Lakers (four first-place votes).

Pelicans forward Herbert Jones finished fifth and Celtics guard Jrue Holiday, who notched the other first-place vote, was sixth. The full voting results can be found here.

Medical Staff Changes Have Helped

Western Notes: Gobert, Finch, Hardaway, Pelicans, OKC, Suns

Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert has been downgraded to questionable for Game 2 against the Nuggets on Monday night for personal reasons, tweets Sam Amick of The Athletic. According to Amick (Twitter link), based on conversations with Wolves officials, it sounds as if Gobert’s availability is “completely up in the air.” His status is believed to be related to the birth of his first child, as Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets.

Gobert only scored six points in Minnesota’s Game 1 victory, but played an important role in the win, grabbing 13 rebounds and blocking three shots. The Wolves were a +12 during his 35 minutes. If he ends up missing Game 2, it will negatively impact the team’s chances of taking a 2-0 lead back home to Minnesota.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Chris Finch‘s new spot on the sidelines worked out well in Game 1, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. The Timberwolves‘ head coach, who underwent knee surgery last Wednesday, had to sit next to the scorer’s table in the second row of the bench to protect his knee, but he had no issues communicating with his players. “It’s a little surreal just being that much separated from the action, if you will. But it was great,” Finch said. “I felt like I was in a safe place. I have utmost confidence in our staff and their ability. I thought they did an amazing job. Communicated well. Of course, it was all made better by a really good win. It’s our new reality. Just got to find a rhythm.”
  • While the Mavericks will be without big man Maxi Kleber (shoulder) for their second-round series vs. Oklahoma City, another rotation player is set to return to action. Tim Hardaway Jr., who missed the last four games of the first round with a sprained ankle, will be available on Tuesday for Game 1, tweets Mike Curtis of The Dallas Morning News.
  • The Pelicans and Thunder essentially began their rebuilding processes at the same time and were in similar positions five years ago, according to Christian Clark of, who considers how and why Oklahoma City has “zoomed ahead” of New Orleans since then.
  • Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic spoke to several national NBA reporters – from ESPN, The Athletic,, and other outlets – about what went wrong in Phoenix this season and how they might try to fix the Suns this summer.

Sixers Rumors: Maxey, Reed, Offseason Targets, Harris, Hield, Oubre

While the Sixers are disappointed by how quickly their playoff run ended this spring, there are reasons for optimism going forward. For one, guard Tyrese Maxey showed this season that he’s an impact player capable of becoming a legitimate second star alongside center Joel Embiid, according to Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

“He was amazing this year,” Embiid said of his teammate, per Mizell. “One of the 10 best players in the world this year. … He’s gotten so much better. I think there’s another step he can even take.”

Maxey will be a restricted free agent this summer, but that’s just a technicality — he will count against the Sixers’ cap for just $13MM until he signs his new contract. After using up their cap room, the 76ers will be able to go over the cap to lock him up to a maximum-salary deal that projects to be worth at least $35MM in 2024/25 — or up to $42.3MM if Maxey makes an All-NBA team.

Because the Sixers didn’t win a playoff series, Paul Reed‘s $7.7MM salary for ’24/25 will remain non-guaranteed, which means the club could potentially enter free agency with only Embiid’s salary ($51.4MM) and Maxey’s $13MM cap hold counting toward team salary. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link), Philadelphia could have up to $64.9MM in cap room with just those two players on the books. That number would be closer to $55MM if the 76ers retain Reed and their first-round pick.

What might the Sixers do what that cap room? Sources tell Bontemps that Jrue Holiday was a top target until he signed an extension in Boston. OG Anunoby is also on their wish list, per Bontemps, though he’s considered likely to re-sign with the Knicks. Appearing on ESPN’s Get Up (Twitter video link), Brian Windhorst identified Paul George as Philadelphia’s No. 1 priority and said he thinks the team will make George a maximum-salary offer, assuming he hasn’t re-upped with the Clippers before free agency.

If no top-tier free agents are available, Daryl Morey and the Sixers figure to turn to their trade market, since they’ll have several first-round picks available to move and won’t have to send out matching salary. Windhorst mentions Heat swingman Jimmy Butler and Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram as a pair of possible trade targets for the Sixers.

On the other hand, it’s not necessarily a star-or-bust summer for Philadelphia, according to Bontemps, who says one other potential path for the club would be to pursue a series of role players who complement Embiid and Maxey, like the Nuggets have done around Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. In that scenario, the Sixers could explore re-signing a few of their own free agents, such as Kelly Oubre, De’Anthony Melton, Nicolas Batum, and/or Kyle Lowry. League sources expect Tobias Harris to be playing elsewhere next season though, per Bontemps.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • A reunion with Butler feels like a long shot, but David Aldridge of The Athletic argues that the former Sixer is exactly the kind of “alpha” the team needs to complement Embiid and Maxey. Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link) suggests that he can’t imagine the Heat accepting a trade package heavy on draft assets for Butler unless they planned to flip those assets for another star.
  • Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) and Mark Deeks of HoopsHype shared their Sixers offseason previews, taking a closer look at the decisions facing the franchise.
  • Veteran sharpshooter Buddy Hield, who will be an unrestricted free agent, said that he would like to return to Philadelphia, tweets Mizell. Hield scored 20 points in 21 minutes in Game 6 on Thursday but had only scored two points and had a pair of DNP-CDs in the five playoff games before that.
  • Oubre also expressed interest in re-signing with the Sixers, suggesting that he feels like he has “unfinished business” after the first-round loss. “I just wanna be loved,” Oubre said of his priorities in free agency, according to Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire. “I don’t know about the business side of it. I mean, I do, but I can’t tell you what I know because I represent myself right now. At the end of the day, I wanna go somewhere where they respect and they love me. It’s been nothing but love here, of course.”
  • Taking a bigger-picture view, Danny Chau of The Ringer considers what another early playoff exit means for Embiid and his legacy.

Woj: Clippers Want To Retain Lue, George, Harden

After Darvin Ham was fired this afternoon, a report from The Athletic indicated the Lakers would be interested in Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue if he were made available.

Appearing on NBA Today with Malika Andrews (Twitter video link), ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski downplayed the possibility of Lue becoming the Lakers’ coach, suggesting he could remain with Los Angeles’ other team for the foreseeable future.

I don’t believe it’s realistic based on this: Ty Lue still has a year left on his contract,” Wojnarowski said (hat tip to RealGM). “And the Clippers are determined to do a long-term deal with Ty Lue, I’m told. They want him to be their head coach for a very long time. That’s a conversation that will happen after the playoffs are over, but they love the job he did this season. They love the job that he’s done there.

This is an organization that, by all indications, however this series (with Dallas) ends up, wants to re-sign Paul George, James Harden. Try to improve that roster around those two and Kawhi Leonard. And Ty Lue will still be the head coach for them.”

Wojnarowski’s full story regarding Lue, George and Harden can be found right here.

The Lakers tried to hire Lue back in 2019, Wojnarowski noted, but the two sides couldn’t come to terms on a contract. At the time, it was reported that Lue was seeking a larger salary.

Wojnarowski also reiterated a point he previously made, that the Lakers might not go after the biggest available names, such as Mike Budenholzer, for financial reasons.

You may see other candidates who’ve had success as head coaches, a Kenny Atkinson, a James Borrego, coaches of that ilk certainly could be part of this conversation,” Wojnarowski concluded.

Warriors assistant Atkinson, formerly lead coach of the Nets, was another Lakers candidate recently mentioned by The Athletic. Borrego, Charlotte’s former head coach, is a new name to watch. He’s currently an assistant with the Pelicans.

According to The Athletic’s Jovan Buha (Twitter link), Celtics assistant Charles Lee is a candidate for the Lakers’ coaching vacancy as well.

Pelicans More Comfortable Building Around Zion Williamson

  • Zion Williamson has made the Pelicans more confident that he can be the cornerstone of their future, multiple team sources tell William Guillory of The Athletic. Injury and conditioning concerns hung over Williamson during his first four NBA seasons, but he was much more durable this year, appearing in 70 games and logging 31.5 minutes per night. In addition to his on-court production, Williamson also became a more vocal leader.

Wolves’ Mike Conley Named 2023/24 Teammate Of The Year

Timberwolves point guard Mike Conley has been named the NBA’s Teammate of the Year for the 2023/24 season, the league announced today (via Twitter).

The Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award “recognizes the player deemed the best teammate based on selfless play, on- and off-court leadership as a mentor and a role model to other players, and commitment and dedication to team,” per the NBA.

The award isn’t voted on by media members. A panel of league executives select the 12 finalists (six from each conference) for the award, while current players vote on the winner. Players receive 10 points for a first place vote, seven for second, five for third, three for fourth, and one point for fifth place.

Here are this season’s full voting results, according to the NBA, with the player’s point total noted in parentheses:

It’s the second Teammate of the Year award for Conley, won also won it in 2018/19 when he was a member of the Grizzlies.

The award, which was introduced in ’12/13, had gone to Jrue Holiday in each of the past two seasons (and three of the past four), with Damian Lillard taking it home in 2021.

Pelicans Notes: Offseason, Ingram, Center, Point Guard

Entering the final day of the regular season earlier this month, the Pelicans just needed a victory to secure the No. 6 seed in the West. However, they lost that game, lost their first play-in game, and lost star forward Zion Williamson in that contest to a hamstring injury that turned out to be a season-ender. New Orleans ultimately claimed the No. 8 seed in the West, but was quickly dispatched by the Thunder in a four-game sweep.

Speaking on Tuesday to reporters (Twitter video link), head of basketball operations David Griffin said there were “so many positives” to take away from the season, pointing to the Pelicans’ league-best 28-14 road record and their sixth-best net rating (+4.6). But while he acknowledged that the team was once again bitten by the injury bug at an inopportune time, he said the front office can’t just bring back the same group and hope for better health luck next season.

“In the past, we’ve always erred on the side of continuity, and our takeaway has always been, ‘Let’s see this group healthy.’ I think we’ve seen it enough,” Griffin said. “I think we had a really, really good opportunity to see Zion play a career high in games. I think we saw it for segments of time well enough to understand that we’ve got a lot of work to do. Because it is a historically good Western Conference, there are teams that didn’t make the playoffs that are going to get radically better this offseason. We need to do the same. I think you’ll see a real sense of urgency from all of us to do that.

“… I want to be really, really clear,” Griffin added (Twitter video link). “This is not going to be a summer of complacency. It’s time to get better.”

The Pelicans aren’t quite as loaded with draft assets as they once were, but they’re still in good position to make a deal heavy on picks. They control all their own future first-round selections, an unprotected Lakers first-rounder (they can take this year’s No. 17 pick or defer it to 2025), an unprotected Bucks first-rounder (2027), and swap rights with Milwaukee in 2026.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • The Pelicans will face a significant decision this offseason on Brandon Ingram, as the star forward prepares to enter the final year of his maximum-salary contract following an ugly series vs. the Thunder (14.3 PPG on .345/.250/.895 shooting). As Christian Clark of writes, if they don’t want to enter next season with Ingram on an expiring deal, the Pels will have to determine this summer whether to trade or extend him. “That’s not in the front of my mind right now,” Ingram said after Monday’s Game 4 loss. “This is a place where I got my first All-Star (appearance). Where they let me be myself. I have good relationships with everyone. But you never know. I will take a few weeks off and think about what’s best for me, what’s best for my family. Then take it from there.”
  • While sorting out Ingram’s future will likely be their top priority, the Pelicans have plenty of important items on their summer to-do list, according to offseason previews from ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) and Mark Deeks of HoopsHype. Trey Murphy will be eligible for a rookie scale extension, Naji Marshall will be an unrestricted free agent, and New Orleans would presumably like to find a center who can reliably close games after having to bench both Jonas Valanciunas and Larry Nance in certain matchups. Valanciunas will also be a free agent this offseason.
  • Adding a traditional point guard to their roster may be another item on the Pelicans’ offseason to-do list. Asked today about that possibility, Ingram acknowledged, “It would definitely be helpful” (Twitter link via Clark). CJ McCollum has been New Orleans’ primary point guard since being acquired from Portland, but it’s not his original position.

And-Ones: Media Rights, Awards, Hall Of Fame, Lithuania, More

The NBC is making a strong play for the right to broadcast NBA games beginning in 2025/26, according to Joe Flint, Amol Sharma, and Isabella Simonetti of The Wall Street Journal (subscription required). People familiar with the situation tell the WSJ trio that Comcast’s NBCUniversal is prepared to pay $2.5 billion per year for a package of NBA games.

As we wrote last week, Amazon Prime Video is in strong position to become a broadcast partner for the NBA, with ESPN/ABC (Disney) also making good progress in talks.

After operating with just two partners (ESPN/ABC and TNT) in its current media rights deal, the NBA is looking to expand to at least three partners this time around. If Amazon and NBC were to join the mix with Disney, it could leave TNT (Warner Bros. Discovery) on the outside looking in, though the league reportedly hasn’t ruled out making four separate deals.

As Flint, Sharma, and Simonetti detail, TNT Sports paid about $1.2 billion per year for its NBA rights the previous media rights agreement, which will expire after the 2024/25 season. TNT remains involved in negotiations with the league and will have the right to match NBC’s offer, but would be looking at a substantial increase in cost.

If Comcast is able to reach a deal with the NBA, their package would include both regular season and playoff games on NBC and their streaming service Peacock, according to the WSJ report.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • After revealing its Executive of the Year winner on Tuesday, the NBA has two more minor award announcements on tap this week, per the league (Twitter link) — Teammate of the Year will be announced on Wednesday, with the Hustle Award to follow on Thursday.
  • The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame recently announced that its enshrinement ceremony for 2024 has been postponed from August to October, primarily for Olympic-related logistical reasons. Vince Carter and Chauncey Billups are among the headliners of the ’24 class, which was revealed earlier this month.
  • Eight years after being told by a Pistons doctor that he wouldn’t be able to play basketball again due to a back injury, Lithuanian big man Donatas Motiejunas remains active in the EuroLeague and has played in 123 consecutive games. In a conversation with Donatas Urbonas of (subscription required), Motiejunas discussed how that incident – which resulted in a voided deadline-day trade – changed the trajectory of his professional career.
  • Speaking of Lithuanian big men, Kings center Domantas Sabonis and Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas are both expected to suit up for Lithuania’s national team in their Olympic qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico this summer, according to head coach Kazys Maksvytis. Eurohoops has the story, via a report from Lithuanian outlet
  • With LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry combining for a single playoff win, this spring feels like a passing-of-the-torch moment for the NBA, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic.

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Bronny, Trade Market, Vanderbilt, D-Lo, More

While Darvin Ham‘s future – or lack thereof – with the Lakers figures to be a hot topic this week, what happens this offseason with LeBron James figures to have the more significant impact on the franchise in 2024/25 and beyond.

James is considered likely to play for a couple more seasons, one source briefed on his thinking tells Shams Charania, Jovan Buha, and Sam Amick of The Athletic, so retirement is extremely unlikely. He’ll have a decision to make on a ’24/25 player option worth more than $51MM and both routes – opting in or out – remain on the table, per The Athletic’s reporters, who say the four-time MVP would like to get a sense of how the Lakers’ offseason is playing out before finalizing a decision by the June 29 deadline.

ESPN’s Dave McMenamin hears that team officials didn’t have any real sense, as of last week, of what James will do with his contract, but both he and The Athletic’s trio agree that the Lakers want to bring back the star forward. LeBron’s relationship with Lakers ownership is “better than ever,” according to Charania, Buha, and Amick, and the front office would be open to discussing any contract scenario, including the maximum three-year, $164MM deal it can offer, team sources tell The Athletic.

“He’s not the problem here,” a high-ranking team official told The Athletic.

What did James have to say after Monday’s season-ending loss when asked about his contract situation? Not a whole lot, as McMenamin relays.

“I don’t have an answer … to be honest,” James said. “I haven’t given it much thought. … We’ll cross that when we need to.”

Asked if Monday’s loss might have been his last game as a Laker, LeBron replied, “I’m not going to answer that.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Team sources tell Charania, Buha, and Amick that the Lakers are “very open” to the idea of potentially drafting Bronny James to help LeBron fulfill his dream of playing with his son. The Lakers currently hold the No. 55 pick in the 2024 draft — they’ll also have No. 17 if the Pelicans opt to defer the L.A. pick they’re owed until next season.
  • The Lakers are expected to be aggressive in the trade market this offseason, per Charania, Buha, and Amick, who reiterate that Hawks guard Trae Young is viewed one of the team’s “many” potential targets. Young’s backcourt mate Dejounte Murray will also be discussed, says Dan Woike of The Los Angles Times.
  • As Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer notes, the Lakers will be able to trade up to three first-round picks this summer and have some appealing contracts that they could include in a deal, but there are other teams with larger collections of first-round picks who could potentially outbid L.A. for a star. League sources expect the Jazz and Pelicans to be among those who will be aggressive in trade talks, O’Connor adds.
  • Lakers forward Jarred Vanderbilt, who had been sidelined since February 1 due to a right foot injury, was available to play in Game 5 on Monday, but he didn’t see any action, writes Khobi Price of The Orange County Register. Like teammate Christian Wood, who was available for Games 4 and 5 but didn’t play, Vanderbilt should enter the offseason relatively healthy.
  • Speaking on Monday to reporters, including Price (Twitter link), D’Angelo Russell said he hasn’t made a decision yet on his $18.7MM player option for 2024/25, but acknowledged that he has some leverage and indicated he plans to take advantage of it. Despite the Lakers’ disappointing early exit, Russell was proud of his season on a personal level, per McMenamin. “Hell of a year by D’Angelo. Humbly saying that,” he said. “Through the ups and downs, through all the whatever you want to call it, it never bothered me. I always kept myself sane.”
  • After joining the Lakers on the buyout market in the second half of the season, L.A. native Spencer Dinwiddie said on Monday that he’d love to return if the team is interested in re-signing him (Twitter link via Buha).
  • Elsewhere on the Lakers front, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) previews the team’s offseason decisions, Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times argues that the club needs to do whatever it takes to bring back James, and Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times describes the Lakers as a mediocre team with no clear path back to contender status.