Nick Collison

Northwest Notes: Durant, Exum, Gibson, Rubio

Kevin Durant plans to travel to Oklahoma City for the jersey retirement ceremony of longtime teammate Nick Collison, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The ceremony is set to take place on March 20 when the Thunder take on the Raptors at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Durant and Collison spent eight seasons together on the Thunder (and one on the Sonics) from 2007-’16, reaching the NBA Finals in 2012 and multiple conference Finals in that span. Collison grew close to several teammates in his 14 years with the franchise and remained friends with Durant even after he joined the Warriors.

“That group was so special, that whole group from 2010 until I left there, it was special,” Durant told ESPN. “It’s about time for us to let go of all that extra stuff, and just come together — especially around this time, because it’s Nick.”

Several of Collison’s former teammates are expected to be in attendance for the ceremony, showing appreciation for the kind of hard-worker and consummate professional Collison was during his career.

Despite the brief return for Durant, neither he nor the Thunder organization have active interest in a basketball reunion, Wojnarowski reports. Durant emphasized that he still holds the Thunder, their fans, and the city in high regard.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division today:

  • Jazz guard Dante Exum (ankle) missed his 11th game of the season on Friday and is now ineligible to receive a $200K bonus, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Exum would’ve received the bonus if he played 73 or more games this season with Utah. He also has a separate $200K incentive in his contract that can be earned if he plays 67 games or more on the season.
  • Timberwolves veteran Taj Gibson was fined $25,000 for aggressively pursuing and directing an obscene gesture towards a referee, the NBA announced on Friday. Gibson was ejected Thursday after excessively arguing a foul call with official James Williams. “He’s like a big brother,” Gibson said of Williams, according to Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “You see him every day, you have a relationship, sometimes tempers flare and you kind of lose it a little bit, but you know you mean well. I’ll see him again, but it was just part of the job. It was just one of those times I just lost it.”
  • Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio has remained focused on helping his team despite Utah’s reported interest in Mike Conley and Otto Porter Jr., Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News writes“I was in Minnesota traded like 20 times,” Rubio said. “Until it doesn’t happen, you have to really don’t pay attention to that. A lot of them are just rumors and just 5 percent are true, so if it happens it happens, but I’m committed 100 percent to this team, to the community, and nothing’s going to change.” Rubio, 28, is set to become a free agent on July 1.

Northwest Notes: O’Neale, Thibodeau, Collison, Murray

After two years of trying to earn an NBA job, Royce O’Neale broke through in a big way with the Jazz last season, writes Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. After unexpectedly making the roster in training camp, O’Neale played in 69 games and was part of the rotation right through the playoffs. As he prepares for his second NBA season, O’Neale hasn’t changed his mindset of fighting to prove he belongs on the team.

“I can’t rest,” O’Neale said. “I still have to come out here and play with a chip on my shoulder.”

O’Neale has dedicated the summer to working on ball-handling and 3-point shooting, as well as spending time in the weight room. He heads into this year’s camp with a contract in hand, even though both seasons are non-guaranteed. O’Neale will receive $1,378,242 this season and $1,618,520 in 2019/20 if he remains on the roster.

There’s more tonight from the Northwest Division:

  • Coming off a difficult season with the Timberwolves, coach/executive Tom Thibodeau feels refreshed after a summer away from the team, relays Jim Souhan of The Star-Tribune. Minnesota entered the season with high expectations after trading for Jimmy Butler and signing Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson, but the pieces didn’t always fit together well and the Wolves had to win on the final night of the regular season to reach the playoffs. “I know I have to recharge,” said Thibodeau, who spent much of the summer traveling. “Now that I’m back here, I walk around the lake quite a bit. It’s beautiful here in the summer.”
  • The Thunder should honor Nick Collison‘s years of service to the organization by retiring his number, contends an article in The Oklahoman (subscription only.) Collison was the 12th pick in the 2003 draft by the SuperSonics and remained with the team for a full decade after its move to Okahoma City. He announced his retirement in May.
  • Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray has proven he can excel on offense, but he still needs to improve at the other end of the court, contends Joel Rush of Forbes. Rush runs the numbers and shows that Murray’s ineffectiveness on defense negates much of what he contributes on offense.

Nick Collison Announces Retirement

Veteran big man Nick Collison is calling it a career, he announced today in an ESPN.com piece co-written by Royce Young.

“I started in cold gyms in small towns in Iowa and ended up playing in more than 1,000 games over 15 years in the best league in the world. I’ve had an incredible run. I’m proud of my career,” Collison says in the article. “But it’s time to go. I’m retiring from competitive basketball.”

The Thunder have issued a press release of their own on Collison’s decision, which includes statements from Thunder owner Clay Bennett and general manager Sam Presti, praising him for his contributions to the franchise.

“Nick has helped define the standards we work by on a day-to-day basis, on and off the court and has become synonymous with the Thunder shield,” Presti said. “He is a craftsman; tough, selfless and humble. He brought the best of himself his entire career each day he walked through the door. As result of his consistency and longevity, his contributions to our culture and community will have a lasting effect.”

Collison, the 12th overall pick in the 2003 draft, began his NBA career with the Seattle SuperSonics and spent all 15 of his professional seasons with the franchise, making the move to Oklahoma City in 2008.

In 910 career regular season games, Collison averaged 5.9 PPG and 5.2 RPG. The 37-year-old also played in 91 total postseason contests, including 20 when the Thunder made their run to the NBA Finals in 2012.

Collison had long been expected to retire this offseason. When he signed a final one-year contract with the Thunder during the summer of 2017, reports at the time indicated it would be his last deal. The former Kansas Jayhawk didn’t change his mind on that during the 2017/18 season.

Because Collison had been on a one-year contract, his retirement decision won’t affect the Thunder’s cap outlook for the 2018/19 campaign — the team won’t carry any dead money for the veteran and won’t have to waive him.

Collison’s announcement, in which he discusses his time in Oklahoma City and Seattle at length, is worth checking out in full, particularly for Thunder (and SuperSonics) fans.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2018: Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder are in a unique position with a unique superstar and this upcoming summer will play a major role in how that ultimately plays out. Unsurprisingly, the team’s short-term fate depends on where Paul George signs and that could very well depend on where LeBron James signs.

With a committed George, the Thunder boast one of the league’s most intriguing cores and a front office with a rich history of landing major assets. Without him, it’s not so much of a stretch to picture the club back in the lottery for the first time since 2015.

Carmelo Anthony, PF, 34 (Down) – Signed to a five-year, $124MM deal in 2014
In less than a year, Anthony went from being a coveted veteran star to a radioactive presence with an albatross contract. The 33-year-old has an early termination option for 2018/19 but isn’t about to wave goodbye to the $28MM season he’s been eyeing up since he signed for it back in 2014. Anthony will be back in Oklahoma City next season and has already said that he has no desire to come off the bench. Godspeed, Thunder fans.

Corey Brewer, SG, 32 (Up) – Signed to a one-year deal in 2018
The Thunder added Brewer down the stretch as a replacement for the injured Andre Roberson. The perimeter defender not only subbed in admirably for Roberson, but carved out a role in the team’s rotation heading forward should he decide to return. Brewer is coming off of a comfortable $24MM deal signed in 2015, so don’t expect him to chase the biggest offer he can find if it looks like the Thunder will be able to remain competitive. That said, the club will need to offer more than the peanuts it got him for at the tail end of 2017/18.

Nick Collison, PF, 37 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
For the past 15 years, Collison has been a part of the Thunder franchise and there’s always seemed to be a mutual respect between he and the organization. While his days as a key rotation piece are in the rearview mirror, there’s no denying that his presence in the locker room has had a positive impact on the team. The big man hasn’t made a public decision regarding retirement at this point but it may be more likely than not. If Collison does decide to play in 2018/19, expect it to be announced well into free agency after the team’s other dominoes have fallen.

Raymond Felton, PG, 34 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
Few would argue that there will be a long list of teams fighting to sign Felton this summer but it’s hard to consider his lone season in Oklahoma City anything less than a success. Felton proved that he can be an effective, cheap bit player for the Thunder, as evidenced by the 6.9 points and 2.5 assists per game he posted in just 16.6 minutes of action. Had he not performed as well as he did, there’s no guarantee he’d even land another full-time gig.

Paul George, SF, 28 (Up) – Signed to a five-year, $92MM deal in 2014
While his first season in Oklahoma City could have gone better from a team perspective, George did little to obfuscate his case for a max contract. It seems inevitable that the star will head west to the Lakers but let’s take the guy at his word if he says he’s at least interested in the notion of returning to the Thunder. The franchise would be well equipped for the next half decade if they could lock George in with Westbrook and Steven Adams, but will that be enough to sway the California native? Wherever he goes, he figures to be earning the max allowable.

Jerami Grant, PF, 24 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $4MM deal in 2014
Grant was a solid and intriguing depth piece for the Thunder this season, but may be one of the players most impacted by the team’s tight finances. The former second-round pick will see interest from other teams this summer and while OKC could go over the cap to retain him, doing so would have serious luxury tax implications.

Josh Huestis, PF, 26 (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $4MM deal in 2015
Despite world-class athleticism, Huestis hasn’t firmly established himself with the Thunder in three seasons. That being said, he saw consistent action for OKC in 2017/18 in limited minutes. Given that the team will have so much of its payroll tied up in a handful of players in 2018/19 and beyond, the unrestricted free agent could have some appeal as a dirt-cheap option already familiar with the system.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Thunder Notes: Anthony, George, Collison, Donovan

Scratch the idea of Carmelo Anthony accepting a reserve role if he decides to return to the Thunder next season. The veteran forward emphatically rejected the idea during today’s exit interviews, tweets ESPN’s Royce Young.

“I’m not sacrificing no bench role,” Anthony responded when asked about the possibility. “So that’s out of the question.”

Anthony has a player option for next season worth nearly $28MM that he is considered likely to exercise because he’ll have difficulty getting that amount in free agency. After averaging a career-low 32.1 minutes in his first season in Oklahoma City and sitting for extended stretches in the playoffs, there was speculation that he might be might be transitioned into a bench role for 2018/19, but today’s comments make it clear he wouldn’t be a willing participant.

There’s more from the Thunder’s exit interviews:

  • Paul George addressed his impending free agency again today, saying that playing at home in Los Angeles won’t be the “only option” when he hits the open market (Twitter link). George is considered a lock to opt out of his $20.7MM salary for next season and has long been rumored to have a desire to join the Lakers. George had an All-Star season during his first year in OKC, but his scoring, rebounding and shooting percentage from the floor all declined from last season with the Pacers.
  • Veteran big man Nick Collison, who has been with the franchise for his entire 14-year career, said, “I think I’ve decided,” when asked about his NBA future, relays Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman (Twitter link). However, the 37-year-old added, “Today’s not the time to make any of those decisions final.”
  • Head coach Billy Donovan provided a brief answer when asked if he expects to be back with the team next season (Twitter link). “Let me say I’m excited about the organization,” he replied. “I love working with [GM] Sam [Presti], the people that are here. I haven’t given any thought to that. My total focus is how do we get better and improve.” Donovan still has two seasons remaining on the five-year contract he signed when he was hired in 2015, but the Thunder have suffered first-round playoff eliminations in the past two seasons.
  • Free agent guard Raymond Felton, who played for the veteran’s minimum this season, said he wants to return to the Thunder (Twitter link). “I don’t know what my future may hold,” the 33-year-old told reporters. “I would love to be back.”

Northwest Notes: Rose, Collison, Lillard

Derrick Rose is officially a member of the Timberwolves and made his first comments since the signing was made official. Injuries have diminished Rose’s skill set and playing time in recent seasons and there are questions about how much he can realistically help Minnesota down the stretch.

Rose told reporters, Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune, that he does not need validation from anybody about his playing level.

“I mean, this is how I feel about it, the whole perspective on it,” Rose said. “You can have your perspective on me, as far as I’m a bum, I can’t play, I can’t shoot, this and that. All right, cool. I have no hard feeling with that. I’m cool with that. If that’s how you feel, that’s how you feel. But at the same time, I don’t need your validation. Like, I know who I am. I know the type of player I am. You respect that and I respect that and we should be good.”

The 29-year-old never got on track with the Cavaliers this season, averaging 9.8 PPG and 1.8 RPG in just 16 games. However, he did appear in 64 games with the Knicks last year, averaging 18.0 PPG and 4.4 APG. Rose did not play on Thursday against the Celtics but is expected to play against the Warriors on Sunday.

Check out other Northwest Division notes below:

  • Thunder big man Nick Collison has been with the organization since the 2004/05 season when the organization was still known as the Supersonics. As the current team prepares for the postseason, Collison said to former teammate and NBA Soundsystem host, Brent Barry, that consistency is Oklahoma City’s biggest issue, per Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. Like you know, the playoffs, every possession counts,” Collison said. “Consistency’s been an issue with us this year. But we do have a veteran group and we’ve played well against the best teams. So for us, just finding that consistency and being able to play possession by possession and being able to grind out some good solid basketball for a long time. If you want to make a run, you gotta play for two months. I think consistency’s huge for us.”
  • Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is enjoying another strong season and feels he should be in the conversation for Most Valuable Player, Sean Meagher of OregonLive.com writes. “I don’t see why I wouldn’t be mentioned,” Lillard said. “But obviously James Harden is having a special season and they’re the No. 1 team in the league right now. He’s been runner-up for a few years where I feel like he could have easily won it. What he’s doing individually, and what their team is doing, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the winner.”

Players Who Can Veto Trades In 2017/18

No-trade clauses are rare in the NBA, but one such provision has been the subject of much discussion so far in 2017, as Carmelo Anthony made use of his NTC to block the Knicks from sending him to an undesirable destination. For much of the offseason, Anthony was focused on joining the Rockets, but he eventually agreed to a deal that sent him to Oklahoma City.

Anthony is one of just two NBA players whose contract includes an explicit no-trade clause, but there are still several players each year who have the ability to veto trades. A player who re-signs with his previous team on a one-year contract – or a two-year deal with an option year – is given no-trade protection, and so is a player who signs an offer sheet and has that offer matched by his previous team. Players who accept qualifying offers after their rookie deals expire can also block deals.

Taking into account that list of criteria, here are the players who must give their consent if their teams want to trade them during the 2017/18 league year:

No-trade clauses

Players whose offer sheets were matched

  • Otto Porter (Wizards)
    • Note: Even with his consent, Porter cannot be traded to the Nets during the 2017/18 league year.

Players accepting qualifying offers

Players re-signing for one year (or two years including an option)

In addition to the players listed above who can veto trades through the 2017/18 league year, there’s another small handful of players who can’t be dealt under any circumstance until at least next July. The following players signed a Designated Veteran Extension this season, which precludes them from being traded for a full calendar year:

Information from Basketball Insiders and ESPN was used in the creation of this post.

Nick Collison Re-Signs With Thunder, Will Retire In 2018

JULY 21st, 2:40pm: The signing is official, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweets.

JULY 14th, 11:31am: The Thunder and Nick Collison have reached an agreement on a one-year contract, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link). According to Charania, the one-year deal will “end” Collison’s long NBA career with the franchise, so it sounds like he’ll retire at the end of the 2017/18 season.

Collison, who will turn 37 in October, has appeared in 895 total regular season games for Seattle and Oklahoma City, but has an extremely limited role at this stage of his career. In 2016/17, he played just 128 total minutes in 20 games for the Thunder, averaging 1.7 PPG and 1.6 RPG. In what figures to be his final season, he’ll serve more as a veteran mentor on the bench than as a key on-court contributor for the club.

While terms of the deal weren’t reported, the Thunder have used their taxpayer mid-level exception, and won’t use their bi-annual exception to avoid becoming hard-capped. So Collison will be in line for a one-year, minimum salary contract.

That deal will pay Collison about $2.329MM, but will only count for $1.471MM for OKC’s team salary and tax purposes. Our story on this year’s minimum salaries explains the details on those numbers.

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Westbrook, Collison

The biggest priority for the Jazz this summer will be retaining their players, an Associated Press report says. General manager Dennis Lindsey is aware of the challenge and accepts it head on.

Player retention would be the next step,” Lindsey said, before expanding with ways that the Jazz can improve upon this year’s success. “Player development. A strategic add that can complement the group where there’s just a really good fit. Whether that fit is mentality, experience or skill-set.

At the top of Lindsey’s list of players to retain will be All-Star forward Gordon Hayward. Though the Butler alum just missed out on an All-NBA selection – and the resulting financial reward – the Jazz can still make a solid case to convince the forward to return to the team that drafted and developed him.

Point guard George Hill is another body that Lindsey will look to keep in town over the offseason. Hill will be an unrestricted free agent after his one season with the Jazz and will likely generate considerable interest coming off a career year.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Thunder will look to extend point guard Russell Westbrook‘s contract this summer and can do so with the Designated Veteran Player Extension. Per Bobby Marks of the Vertical, even though Westbrook renegotiated his existing contract prior to the new CBA, he’s been deemed eligible by the league to ink a five-year deal worth as much as $207MM this summer.
  • Veteran Nick Collison isn’t finished playing in the NBA and will look to come to terms with the Thunder for 2017/18, Fred Katz of the Norman Transcript writes. Despite the big man’s loyalty to the franchise that drafted him 2003, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be back with Oklahoma City if another organization offers a more appealing role.
  • If the Jazz are able to bring Gordon Hayward and George Hill back this summer, two players that may be sacrificed for financial reasons are Derrick Favors and Alec Burks, Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post suggests.

Thunder Notes: Roberson, Gibson, Collison, Kanter

Andre Roberson and Taj Gibson should both get plenty of interest in free agency, according to Ryan Aber and Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. Both expressed a desire today to stay in Oklahoma City, but they won’t be easy for the Thunder to keep.

Roberson, a fourth-year guard, will be a restricted free agent, so OKC can match any offer he receives. He made less than $2.2MM this season, but figures to get a substantial raise after an outstanding defensive performance in the playoffs. Gibson will be unrestricted after making $8.95MM this year. He became a starter after a midseason trade with Chicago and was a key contributor in the postseason. Gibson had a “long talk” with GM Sam Presti and coach Billy Donovan about his desire to remain in OKC. “There’s gonna be teams out there, but you never know what’s gonna happen,” Gibson said. “Anything can happen. But I wanted to let Sam know I wanted to be here.”

There’s more news from the first day of the offseason in Oklahoma City:

  • Even though he saw little action this year, 36-year-old Nick Collison isn’t ready to retire, Aber and Dawson relay in the same story. He appeared in just 20 games during the regular season, averaging 6.4 minutes per night, and wasn’t used at all in the playoffs. Collison has been with the organization since entering the league in 2003, dating back to its days in Seattle. “I’ve got really good relationships with all the people here,” he said, “so I think it’ll be honest and fair and we’ll just — I think both sides just have to find the best thing, and we’ll figure it out.”
  • Rookie Domantas Sabonis will be part of the Thunder squad at this year’s summer league in Orlando and then will join the Lithuanian National Team, the authors add in the same piece. Rookie Alex Abrines won’t participate in summer league play and will spend the offseason playing for Spain.
  • Backup center Enes Kanter is trying to ignore trade rumors, tweets Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript. After averaging 21.3 minutes per night during the season, Kanter was limited to just 9.0 per game in the series with the Rockets. “It’s not in my hands,” he said. “… I’m at home. … I see this organization as my family.” Kanter still has another year left on his contract at nearly $17.9MM, then a player option worth more than $18.6MM for 2018/19.