Nicolas Batum

Hornets Notes: Monk, Lamb, Batum, Howard

The Hornets’ choices for backup point guards were influenced by the drafting of Malik Monk in the first round, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. In a mailbag column, Bonnell states that because Monk is an undersized shooting guard with defensive limitations, the team needed larger point guards to pair with him who are better at stopping opponents. That’s why they signed Michael Carter-Williams and Julyan Stone, both 6’6″, when other options were available.

Another factor was cost, as Charlotte was concerned about staying under the luxury tax threshold of about $119MM and was financially limited after trading for Dwight Howard‘s $23.5MM salary. Carter-Williams agreed to a one-year, $2.7MM deal in July, while Stone accepted a minimum-salary contract in August after negotiating a release from his team in Italy.

Bonnell offers more insight into the Hornets:

  • Monk should be fully recovered from a sprained left ankle that caused him to miss the Orlando Summer League. The 11th overall pick suffered the injury during a draft workout and was sidelined for several weeks, which coach Steve Clifford said affected his conditioning. Monk probably won’t see a lot of playing time early in the season, Bonnell writes, but he should be fully healthy for the team’s October 18 opener.
  • Jeremy Lamb has impressed the coaching staff with his work this offseason, but he’s not a threat to take Nicolas Batum‘s starting job. Lamb has been a valuable reserve during his two seasons in Charlotte, and Bonnell says the team needs Batum’s playmaking skills and overall versatility in the starting lineup.
  • The roles of the big men haven’t been firmly established heading into camp. Howard is expected to start at center with Marvin Williams at power forward, but Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky could both make a push for more playing time. Howard’s reputation as a poor free throw shooter could limit his fourth quarter minutes, just as it did in Atlanta, with Zeller getting more use late in games.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Crawford, Mack

The Hornets have taken significant steps forward this offseason but one of the big questions heading into the 2017/18 campaign will be whether wings Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Nicolas Batum will be able to thrive together.

In a recent mailbag, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer tackled the question arguing that the lanky pair help the squad more than hinder them. Bonnell refers to the Hornets’ defensive woes as the major culprit for Charlotte’s disappointing 2016/17 campaign, saying that taking Kidd-Gilchrist out of the picture would only make matters worse.

Bonnell does add, however, that the Hornets would be wise to feature rookie Malik Monk as soon as he’s able to prove that he’s reasonably competent on the defensive end. If he slots in at the two, Batum could then slide up to the three.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Hawks acquired Jamal Crawford in the three-way deal that sent Danilo Gallinari to the Clippers and immediately began pursuing a buyout with the 36-year-old veteran. Exact details of the buyout are not yet known but Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that the guard’s cap hit will be around $11MM in 2017/18.
  • There’s no disputing Shelvin Mack‘s track record of success, he suited up for the 60-win Hawks of 2014/15 and served a valuable role for the 2016/17 Jazz squad that climbed back to relevance. According to John Denton of Orlando’s official website, the former Butler Bulldog thinks that even the Magic can be winners in the immediate future.
  • After a breakout 2013/14 campaign in which he filled in admirably for an injured Kobe Bryant, Jodie Meeks has posted three forgettable, injury-plagued seasons. Now a member of the Wizards, the soon-to-be 30-year-old is ready to reset and start anew. “I came back from my thumb at the end of the season,” he told Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I played okay and finished out the season healthy. This summer I got some rest. Now I’m working out again and I feel fine.
  • After riding the pine for the Wizards in 2016/17, Sheldon Mac and Daniel Ochefu have taken noticeable steps forward, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes.

Southeast Notes: Ross, Heat, Batum, Hawks

Having been sent to Orlando from Toronto at this year’s trade deadline, Terrence Ross will get an earlier start to the offseason with the Magic than he has had in recent years with the Raptors. Nonetheless, Ross is looking forward to spending the summer in Orlando to “familiarize himself with the area and work on his game,” according to John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com, who notes that the veteran swingman has bought a house in Central Florida.

Ross has also looked more at home on the court for the Magic as of late — in his last 12 games, he has averaged 14.8 PPG, shooting .462/.390/.933. All of those marks except for 3PT% (he shot 39.5% in 2013/14) would be career highs for Ross if he maintained them over a full season, so Orlando has reason to be optimistic going forward.

Here’s more from around the Southeast division:

  • Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel believes it has “become clear” that James Johnson should be the top priority among the Heat‘s 2017 free agents. Dion Waiters looked like that player for much of the season, but Winderman notes that Waiters’ absence in recent weeks has allowed Miami to explore other options at shooting guard, and the results have been solid.
  • Veteran forward Nicolas Batum confirmed over the weekend that he won’t play for France in this year’s Eurobasket tournament (video link). Batum will instead dedicate his summer to the Hornets after the team endured a disappointing 2016/17 campaign.
  • The Hawks announced today in a press release that front office executive Malik Rose has been promoted and will serve as the general manager of Atlanta’s new D-League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks. The BayHawks had been Orlando’s NBADL affiliate this past season, but the Hawks will assume control of the Erie club when the Magic introduce a new Lakeland affiliate in 2017/18.

Eastern Notes: Knicks, Batum, Raptors, Brooks

Despite the fact that the Knicks‘ playoff chances appeared to be slipping away before the All-Star break, head coach Jeff Hornacek has continued to insist in recent weeks that the team is continuing to push for the postseason. However, heading into Tuesday’s game against Indiana, Hornacek finally relented on that stance, as Marc Berman of The New York Post details.

“Whether we’re in the playoffs or not in the playoffs, we’re going to play hard the whole time. The playoffs may not be in reach, but this especially could be for other young guys to get some time to show what they really can do,” Hornacek said, acknowledging that the Knicks’ playoff chances are all but dead. “Until you’re mathematically done, you’re always going for it, but sometimes it’s realistic. Are you going to be able to make up seven games in [15]? Many, many things would have to happen for that.”

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Hornets forward Nicolas Batum, who has been battling painful migraines, will undergo a CT scan on his brain, league sources tell Chris Haynes of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Hopefully that scan doesn’t reveal any serious health concerns for Batum.
  • Since acquiring Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker, the Raptors have been without star point guard Kyle Lowry, making them the great unknown in the Eastern Conference, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. As Lewenberg outlines, Toronto may have the highest ceiling and the lowest floor of any of the East’s challengers to Cleveland.
  • Meanwhile, Doug Smith of The Toronto Star suggests that Raptors backup point guards Fred VanVleet and especially Delon Wright have been opening some eyes in Lowry’s absence.
  • In a piece for The Oklahoman, Berry Tramel makes a case for why Wizards head coach Scott Brooks deserves to win the NBA’s Coach of the Year award for his performance in his first season in Washington.

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Nuggets, Turner, Murray

The Trail Blazers will probably wait until the offseason to start making trades to decrease salary, writes Bobby Marks of The Vertical. Portland is looking at the highest payroll in the league next season and has gotten limited production in return, a half game out of the West’s final playoff spot entering tonight’s action. The Blazers have their own draft pick as well as Cleveland’s to offer, but Marks believes those will be more valuable in a possible June deal than they are now. Portland can also deal the contract of Festus Ezeli, who hasn’t played this season and has a $7.733MM salary for next year with just a $1MM guarantee through June 30. However, Marks warns that luxury tax concerns should make the team think twice about taking back any long-term deals.

There’s more news out of the Northwest Division:

  • History suggests that Nuggets GM Tim Connelly will be active at the trade deadline, Marks writes in the same piece. Since taking over in 2013, Connelly has been involved in five deadline deals, along with the trade of Timofey Mozgov to the Cavaliers in January of 2015. Marks also notes that Denver is $7.6MM below the cap floor and could be active on the waiver wire to try to reach that figure.
  • Former Blazer Nicolas Batum believes the team needs to be patient with Evan Turner, relays Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. Turner has been going through a rocky transition since signing a four-year, $70MM deal over the summer. Batum, who was traded to the Hornets in 2015, says Turner gives Portland many of the same attributes that he used to. “He’s one of the best playmakers in this league,” Batum said. “I really appreciate his game. He showed that in Boston the last two years. He just needs time. This is a new team for him.”
  • Veteran point guard Jameer Nelson is teaching the position to Nuggets rookie Jamal Murray, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. “I don’t like to talk about too much of what’s going on in the locker room, but I just encourage him,” Nelson said. “I don’t know what it is to be his age [19] in the NBA. But I can just tell him or help him out with plays or certain situations. And he’s real receptive of it. He’s a great kid. That’s why I’m able to get through to him, because he’s such a great kid.”

Aldridge’s Latest: Hornets, CBA, Seattle, Casspi

The Hornets had several players eligible for free agency in the summer of 2016, and while they lost some players, such as Courtney Lee and Jeremy Lin, they were able to re-sign key pieces like Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams, much to the relief of Kemba Walker.

“I was nervous as hell,” Walker told David Aldridge of NBA.com. “I didn’t want to lose those guys. I knew we couldn’t pay everyone. I wish we could have gotten a lot of the guys back, but unfortunately, the way this business works is it can’t happen all the time. Nic and Marv were high priority … I got a chance to go out to Dallas and be a part of Nic’s meeting. Me and [Michael Kidd-Gilchrist] flew out. It was super cool. We got a chance to sit in the room and say a few words.”

General manager Rich Cho admits the team was worried about potentially losing Batum. As Aldridge details, teams like the Mavericks and Wizards were interested in the veteran forward, but the Hornets didn’t want him to take a meeting with another team — and he didn’t.

Here’s more from Aldridge:

  • Barring any last-minute complications, the NBA and the NBPA will likely reach an official agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement during the week of December 5, reports Aldridge. The league and the union will likely take the week after Thanksgiving to make sure everyone’s up to speed on the new deal before formally announcing it.
  • According to Aldridge, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson approached Chris Hansen and his investment group about getting involved in the Seattle arena project, rather than vice versa. While it may still be years before a new Seattle arena is built, Wilson’s cache and his willingness to invest in the project should only help, Aldridge writes.
  • While there’s no indication that they have interest, Aldridge believes the Wizards should look into trading for Omri Casspi, who has fallen out of favor in Sacramento. Casspi told Matt George of Cowbell Kingdom that he and Kings head coach Dave Joerger haven’t spoken since the preseason.

Southeast Notes: Batum, Magic, Schroder, Heat

Nicolas Batum drew interest this summer from several potential suitors, such as Dallas and New York, but he never seriously considered any team besides the Hornets, as Shams Charania of The Vertical details. “There were options with other teams and different scenarios,” Batum said. “But I tried to look at what suited me best, and look at this franchise long term. Having Kemba [Walker] under contract, having [Michael Kidd-Gilchrist] under contract, having Frank [Kaminsky] under contract, having Coach [Steve] Clifford under contract, we have the same core.”

Here’s more from out of the Southeast division:

  • The Magic expect to choose the location for their new D-League affiliate within the next month or so, CEO Alex Martins tells Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando hopes to have a D-League affiliate ready to begin play in 2017/18, and the team has narrowed the potential location down to two Florida-based candidates: Kissimmee (Silver Spurs Arena) and Lakeland (Lakeland Center).
  • Bobby Marks of The Vertical has the details on Dennis Schroder‘s new deal with the Hawks, who will carry a $15.5MM annual cap hit for the point guard for four years, from 2017/18 through 2020/21. According to Marks (via Twitter), the extension features $2MM per year in unlikely incentives, so the total value could max out at $70MM.
  • Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel isn’t sure there’s room in the Heat‘s rotation for Derrick Williams, who joined the team on a one-year, $4.6MM deal in July.
  • The Hornets‘ first game of the season showed that new center Roy Hibbert, who signed a one-year deal with the team this summer, can impact games in a way that no Charlotte player could last season, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.

Southeast Notes: Spoelstra, Bosh, Beal, Batum

Coach Erik Spoelstra continues to support Chris Bosh despite his ongoing feud with the organization, writes Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald. After failing his training camp physical over a blood clot issue and hearing from team president Pat Riley that his days with the Heat were likely over, Bosh responded with a video Friday in which he claims that he can still play and accuses Riley of not reaching out to him before announcing the news to reporters. The Heat denied Bosh’s charges, saying that Riley had called, texted and emailed Bosh and his agent in an attempt to set up a meeting. Regardless of the dispute and the pessimistic view of Bosh’s future in Miami, Spoelstra refused to criticize his former star. “I love Chris Bosh, his family. I said this so many times, Chris was very important to me as a head coach,” Spoelstra said. “With those teams, he was somebody I really leaned on. That extended outside the lines. It’s something I really have enjoyed and my hope is that relationship can continue.” Those comments were echoed by many of Bosh’s teammates, including Udonis Haslem, who said, “It’s not easy just to walk away.”

There’s more tonight from the Southeast Division:

  • The WizardsBradley Beal returned to practice today after clearing the concussion protocol, writes J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic. Beal had been sidelined since Wednesday after taking an inadvertent elbow to the head from Ian Mahinmi. After enjoying what Michael called his best shooting day since camp began, Beal lashed out at critics who say he is hurt too often. “People make it seem like I’m trying to get hurt,” he said. “I’m not, ‘Hit me on the head this play.’ It just happens. It could be anybody in that position. That’s not going to stop me from being aggressive and continuing to play hard.”
  • With five free agents in the starting lineup last season, Nicolas Batum believes the Hornets were able to be successful because no one was focused on their contracts, relays Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Batum and Marvin Williams both got big money to stay in Charlotte, while Jeremy Lin, Al Jefferson and Courtney Lee all went elsewhere. “[Fans] talked a lot about contracts, because of [so many] free agents. But we forgot about that and played for the team and for the city,” Batum said. “Contracts work themselves out. We lost Jeremy and Big Al and C-Lee, but we’ve got [Michael Kidd-Gilchrist] back. We’re getting Marco [Belinelli] and Big Roy [Hibbert]. I think we got better.”

Eastern Notes: Nader, Westbrook, Batum

The Celtics have a little more than a month to decide what to do with No. 58 pick Abdel Nader, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Teams have until September 10th to submit a required tender offer to second-rounders in order to retain their rights. However, they often have an understanding that the player won’t accept the offer, because if he does and fails to make the 15-man roster, he becomes a free agent. Nader and the Celtics’ front office may disagree on his immediate future, with Boston preferring that Nader agree to spend all of next season with its Maine affiliate in the D-League. But the Iowa State alum, who was the second-leading scorer on the Celtics’ summer league team, may not be willing to make that commitment. “He’s an NBA player, that’s my belief,” said Cervando Tejeda, Nader’s agent. “Right now, we have to decide what the next move is.”

There’s more news from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Heat may benefit from Russell Westbrook‘s decision to accept an extension with the Thunder, contends Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel. Winderman points out that Miami has had its options limited by the pursuit of a free agent every offseason since LeBron James left in 2014, and that would have happened again next summer if Westbrook had been available. With him under contract, the Heat may look more seriously at trades involving Goran Dragic or the newly re-signed Hassan Whiteside. The author also notes that next summer will be crucial for Miami because Tyler Johnson will count $19MM against the salary cap starting in 2018 and the Heat will be short on draft picks to deal, already owing the Suns their 2018 and 2021 first-rounders from the trade that brought Dragic to Miami.
  • Nicolas Batum is philosophical about the roster changes the Hornets experienced over the summer, according to Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer. After winning 48 games last season, Charlotte saw Al Jefferson, Jeremy Lin and Courtney Lee leave in free agency. The team also rewarded Batum with a $120MM contract over the next five years. “That’s just the NBA,” he said after his French team lost to Australia this afternoon at the Olympics. “We get new teammates. We have to adjust. But we still will have a good team. I’m not complaining about it.”

And-Ones: Silver, Wafer, Restricted Free Agents

NBA commissioner Adam Silver doesn’t believe the one-and-one contracts that LeBron James and Kevin Durant have signed are good for the league, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. The arrangements give the players one guaranteed season with the chance to opt out and sign a bigger deal the following year. Durant did it to gain the benefits of being a 10-year veteran when he hits free agency again next summer. James is also maximizing his earnings, while giving the Cavaliers incentive to put the best possible team around him each season.

“One of the unintended consequences I feel on behalf of the players is the fact that they end up putting themselves in this position where they’re taking enormous financial risk,” Silver said. “The system is designed for guys to enter into long term contracts, so, and you can only get so much insurance. So one of the unintended consequences is they take risk beyond what we would like to see them take.” After a month that saw several stars change teams, the commissioner said he would like to work with the union to modify the system to give franchises a better opportunity to keep their own players.

There’s more NBA-related news this morning:

  • Von Wafer, who last played in the NBA in 2012, is campaigning for another shot on social media, relays Kurt Helin of NBCSports.com. Wafer, who just turned 31, had short stints with the Lakers, Clippers, Nuggets, Blazers, Rockets, Celtics and Magic, but never lasted more than one season in any location. In a series of tweets, Wafer says he has a different mentality now and warns younger players not to follow his example.
  • Restricted free agency typically sours the relationship between players and their teams, writes Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders. Because teams are reluctant to tie up cap space for three days while waiting to see if offer sheets are matched, restricted free agents are typically at the end of the line when it comes to getting paid. Also, they often build up resentment toward their original franchise if their offer sheets are matched. As examples, Lang cites Jeff Teague, Nicolas Batum, Paul Millsap, Eric Gordon, Roy Hibbert, Marcin Gortat and DeAndre Jordan.
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