- Like Paul, teammates Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick are viewed as highly likely to re-sign with the Clippers this summer, per Kyler. The Thunder were mentioned at one point as a potential suitor for Griffin, but OKC has since added a ton of salary to its 2017/18 books, and Kyler suggests that Griffin was never all that interest in returning to Oklahoma, where he played his college ball.
In a video interview, Wojnarowski says the teams have discussed a deal involving Butler, but talks haven’t progressed very far. He adds that Chicago officials have to to fully commit to the rebuilding process before they would be willing to give up Butler.
Wojnarowski says the trade would involve one of the Nets’ first-rounders — but probably not both — that Boston owns in the next two drafts. If the Bulls get this year’s pick, Wojnarowski states they can find a replacement for Derrick Rose, who was traded to the Knicks last summer. Washington’s Markelle Fultz and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball are point guards mentioned as likely choices at the top of the draft.
Teaming Butler with Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford would give the Celtics enough firepower to challenge Cleveland for supremacy in the East, Wojnarowski states, not just this season but for years to come.
Other highlights from the interview:
- The Clippers and Thunder are both potential landing spots for Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler. However, both teams are low on draft picks and may not have the assets that Denver would want in return.
- The Thunder were trying to acquire Kings forward Rudy Gay before a season-ending Achilles injury.
- The Wizards would like to add another wing player to their bench, with the Lakers‘ Lou Williams and the Nets‘ Bojan Bogdanovic as possibilities. Wojnarowski says Washington is willing to part with a draft pick to get veteran help.
- The Suns have been shopping P.J. Tucker, Tyson Chandler and Brandon Knight, hoping to get picks or young players in return.
- Chandler is one of several centers on the market, along with the Sixers‘ Jahlil Okafor, the Mavericks‘ Andrew Bogut, the Bucks‘ Greg Monroe and the Nets‘ Brook Lopez. However, there is limited interest in back-to-the basket centers. Wojnarowski speculates that one or two of them may be traded this week, but cautions that there aren’t enough buyers for all of them to be moved.
- Unless something changes, Carmelo Anthony will remain with the Knicks. New York management hasn’t presented him with any deals that would tempt him to waive his no-trade clause. Most of the teams that were interested in dealing for Anthony are now “looking in other directions,” but Wojnarowski thinks the Clippers might revisit their attempt to land Anthony this summer.
Since appearing in 37 games for the Pelicans last season, Kendrick Perkins hasn’t found a new NBA home, but he also hasn’t made any retirement plans just yet. In a conversation with The Oklahoman, Perkins confirmed that his comeback efforts are ongoing.
“I’m still trying to get back in,” Perkins said. “I’ve been working two-a-days over the last couple of months. Just been going hard. Got a couple of calls, just a few teams say they want to start trying me out and working me out before the free agency’s over with. So, just trying to get back in and see what it do. One more push.”
There weren’t many reports linking Perkins to specific teams during 2016’s free agent period after his deal with New Orleans expired. The Warriors were the one team said to have some interest in the veteran big man, but Golden State was ultimately able to add a handful of other frontcourt free agents on modest deals, including Zaza Pachulia, David West, and JaVale McGee.
For his part, Perkins – who spent parts of five seasons in Oklahoma City – sees the Thunder as a potential fit for him now, though he couldn’t confirm that anything is in the works with the team.
“I feel like I fit here,” Perkins said of OKC. “From me walking in the facility earlier (Wednesday), all the love and stuff that I got and then coming here tonight, and then after talking with [GM] Sam [Presti] and [team owner Clay] Bennett, you just know that it’s genuine. It ain’t like I got that many options that I can just pick and choose, but I feel like this would be a good place.”
The 27th overall pick in the 2003 draft, Perkins has appeared in 781 total NBA games for the Celtics, Thunder, Cavs, and Pelicans, averaging 5.4 PPG and 5.8 RPG over the course of his career.
The Kings are in position to be players at the trade deadline, but first they must decide which direction they want to pursue, writes James Ham of CSNBayArea. Sacramento entered tonight just a game and a half out of a playoff spot, but a 24-32 record suggests a lot of improvement is still needed. The Kings can’t offer a draft pick before 2021, but they have several expiring contracts to deal, including Ty Lawson, Darren Collison and Omri Casspi. Kosta Koufos has been the subject of trade rumors, and Olympics star Bogdan Bogdanovic, currently playing in Turkey, could be a valuable trade chip.
There’s more tonight from the Western Conference:
- Veteran forward Anthony Tolliver is hoping his stay in Sacramento won’t get cut short, relays Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. A rash of injuries has created more playing time for the 31-year-old, and he has responded by shooting a career-best 45% from the field and 40% from 3-point range. Tolliver signed a two-year, $16MM deal over the summer, but only $2MM of his $8MM salary for next season is guaranteed before June 1st. That might make him attractive on the trade market for a team looking to cut salary, or the Kings could decide to save money by not bringing him back next season.
- Thunder backup center Enes Kanter had the cast removed from his fractured right forearm, according to Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. Kanter had surgery January 27th and is scheduled to be re-evaluated February 24th. His recovery time was originally projected at four to eight weeks. Kanter says he knows when he should be able to play again, but doesn’t want to release it publicly, fearing it might put pressure on him or the organization to hit the target date.
- Bobby Marks of The Vertical examines trade possibilities for the Clippers, Grizzlies and Thunder as next week’s deadline approaches. All three teams have dealt with major injuries this season.
The Magic are viewing last summer’s trade for Serge Ibaka as a “calculated risk” that didn’t work out, relays Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. To obtain the veteran power forward, Orlando sent Victor Oladipo and Ersan Ilyasova to Oklahoma City, along with the 11th pick in the 2016 draft, which became Domantas Sabonis. Less than a year later, the Magic shipped Ibaka to the Raptors in exchange for Terrence Ross and a pick that will fall toward the end of the first round. Ibaka played 56 games for the Magic, averaging 15.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per night, but the team was just 21-36 with him on the roster.
“I think if you go back in time, you look at what was needed for us in the frontcourt and some of the voids we thought we had on the roster,” explained GM Rob Hennigan. “Then, you balance that with the logjam we had at the two guard at the time with Evan [Fournier] and Victor, we felt like it made sense. Sometimes you have to take a few shots down the field. Sometimes it pans out; sometimes it won’t. I applaud our aggressiveness. I think given the same situation, circumstantially, we would make the same trade. Sometimes, things don’t work out as you plan. I think it’s important to be proactive in trying to rectify that too.”
There’s more NBA news from the Sunshine State:
- Ross was inactive for tonight’s game, according to a tweet from the Magic. The team wasn’t notified before game time that both players passed their physicals and the deal was finalized, according to Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link).
- The Heat had been tied to Ibaka in trade rumors, but weren’t interested in trying to top Toronto’s offer, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. They were reluctant to give up much for a player who will be a free agent after the season and who may be older than his listed age of 27. Also, Miami wasn’t able to offer a first-round pick this year because its 2018 first-rounder may be shipped to Phoenix. Winderman notes that Tyler Johnson can block any trade until July and that most of the roster wouldn’t have enticed the Magic. The writer believes Josh Richardson would have been Miami’s best offer.
- A call from Heat president Pat Riley might have convinced Dwyane Wade to stay in Miami, the Bulls star says in a podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Wade opted to sign with Chicago last summer after negotiations with the Heat stalled. “I love Pat and I know he loves me,” Wade said. “The fact that we didn’t talk, that hurt. That was my deciding factor when it came down to the end of the day and he didn’t show he wanted me there. I know the Arison family loved me and wanted me there. I know Spo [coach Erik Spoelstra] wanted me there.”
The Knicks have been one of the NBA’s most dysfunctional teams this season. On the court, the team has gone just 23-33, with $72MM man Joakim Noah failing to make a significant impact, and Jeff Hornacek and Phil Jackson not always on the same page when it came to the use of the triangle. Off the court, things have been even worse, with Jackson criticizing star forward Carmelo Anthony, and owner James Dolan at odds with former Knicks star Charles Oakley.
On the west coast, the Lakers haven’t been much better, racking up a 19-38 record, good for the No. 14 seed in the West. The team hasn’t made as many off-court headlines, but the structure of the front office is currently up in the air, with new advisor Magic Johnson publicly declaring that he wants to be the one calling the shots on roster decisions.
Despite the problems in New York and Los Angeles, the Knicks and Lakers remain the NBA’s two most valuable franchises, according to a report from Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes. The Knicks and Lakers are the only teams valued at more than $3 billion by Forbes.
Team valuations are up around the league, with the Warriors leading the way among this year’s increases — according to Forbes, the Dubs are 37% more valuable that they were at this time in 2016. In total, 18 teams have a valuation exceeding $1 billion, which is up from 13 teams last year and just three teams in 2015. The average NBA franchise is now worth $1.36 billion, according to the report.
Here’s the full list of NBA franchise valuations, per Forbes:
- New York Knicks: $3.3 billion
- Los Angeles Lakers: $3 billion
- Golden State Warriors: $2.6 billion
- Chicago Bulls: $2.5 billion
- Boston Celtics: $2.2 billion
- Los Angeles Clippers; $2 billion
- Brooklyn Nets: $1.8 billion
- Houston Rockets: $1.65 billion
- Dallas Mavericks: $1.45 billion
- Miami Heat: $1.35 billion
- Cleveland Cavaliers: $1.2 billion
- San Antonio Spurs: $1.175 billion
- Toronto Raptors: $1.125 billion
- Phoenix Suns: $1.1 billion
- Sacramento Kings: $1.075 billion
- Portland Trail Blazers: $1.05 billion
- Oklahoma City Thunder: $1.025 billion
- Washington Wizards: $1 billion
- Orlando Magic: $920MM
- Utah Jazz: $910MM
- Detroit Pistons: $900MM
- Denver Nuggets: $890MM
- Atlanta Hawks: $885MM
- Indiana Pacers: $880MM
- Philadelphia 76ers: $800MM
- Memphis Grizzlies: $790MM
- Milwaukee Bucks: $785MM
- Charlotte Hornets: $780MM
- Minnesota Timberwolves: $770MM
- New Orleans Pelicans: $750MM
For comparison’s sake, Forbes’ 2016 valuations can be found right here.
- It’s unclear whether the Thunder will be buyers or sellers at the deadline, but they are expected to be active. “They will do something, one way or the other. They won’t stand pat,” one anonymous GM told Kennedy.
In the days leading up to the February 23 trade deadline, Hoops Rumors will be taking a closer look at each of the NBA’s 30 teams, by division. We’ll be identifying each team as a buyer, seller, or something in between, and discussing which teams and players are most likely to be involved in deals this month. We’ve already covered the Atlantic. Today, we’re examining the Northwest.
Two Northwest teams are currently over .500, and both the Thunder (31-25) and Jazz (34-22) are in decent position to add reinforcements, though that’s certainly no lock for either team. Oklahoma City has already cashed in many of its trade assets, including a protected 2020 first-round pick sent to the Sixers for Jerami Grant earlier this season. With no trade-eligible first-round picks before 2022 and Enes Kanter on the shelf, the Thunder have limited trade options. Young players like Cameron Payne and Josh Huestis are probably their strongest realistic trade chips at the moment.
As for Utah, the Northwest leaders likely won’t want to shake up their roster too significantly — potential 2017 free agents like Gordon Hayward and George Hill would be trade candidates if they were on lottery teams, but they’re not going anywhere for the Jazz. Still, the team’s sizable chunk of cap room, depth at the point guard spot, and extra first-round picks would make it easy for the Jazz to get something done if they receive an offer they like.
Cole Aldrich, who signed a three-year, $22MM deal with the Wolves over the summer, was brought in to be a veteran mentor to the younger guys on the team and he’s enjoying his role, as he tells Michael Rand of The StarTribune. “Well, with [Jordan Hill], myself, [Brandon Rush] and we had John Lucas earlier in the year, it’s fun to have those guys and the young guys,” Aldrich said. “The teams we were on last year, we were all on older teams, playoff teams. Being able to bring our experience from those teams to a younger group of guys has been a lot of fun.”
More from around the Northwest…
- Several of Mason Plumlee‘s teammates had adverse reactions to Sunday’s trade, Casey Holdahl of NBA.com reports. “I mean, the business sucks man,” Damian Lillard said. “You wish you could get a team together and put pieces together and you can keep it together. You wish you had the power to keep it together regardless of anything. It happens this way sometimes.” Plumlee, who was dealt to the Nuggets in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic, had become an “adept playmaker” under coach Terry Stotts. “He’s [Plumlee] just a glue guy that you want on your team,” C.J. McCollum said. “He’s a guy who does things the right way, never complains and he’s getting better. He put together a nice string of 20, 25 games to where he’s getting double-doubles, making his free throws, finishing in the lane. And he’s a good guy. That’s what matters the most, he’s a good guy.”
- Kevin Durant continues to get the best of Russell Westbrook, Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. KD is averaging 37.7 points against OKC this season, a span in which the Warriors have gone 3-0. Despite the loss, Westbrook appeared to enjoy the home crowd’s mental warfare against Durant. “Honestly, I used to get booed in all arenas,” Westbrook said. “So, you know, the tables have turned a little bit.”
- Chris Haynes of ESPN was critical of Westbrook’s demeanor in Saturday’s rivalry game, writing: “That miniature exchange exemplified Durant’s frustration in playing alongside Westbrook for those eight years with the Thunder. It was always, “I’m coming. I’m coming.” Meanwhile, the team wasn’t going anywhere.” Whereas Westbrook pursued lofty stats, Haynes writes, Durant always prioritized winning.
- Rodney Hood, who has been out of action since February 1 due to a right knee injury, is expected to return after the All-Star break, the Jazz announced on its official website. Hood has averaged 13.7 points with 3.6 rebounds through 40 games in 2016/17.
It’s been seven months since Kevin Durant decided to leave the only franchise he ever knew to sign with the Warriors and today the eight-time All-Star will make his much-anticipated return to Oklahoma City. Sure, for nine seasons Durant helped put the Thunder on the map, but don’t expect his reception at the Chesapeake Energy Arena to be anything less than hostile.
On one hand, Durant treated the franchise that drafted him with relatively unprecedented respect, on the other, well… sports fan logic. As Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News tweets, Durant didn’t force a trade out of Oklahoma City and he didn’t put up a stir mid-season and distract the Thunder from their 2015/16 campaign. He waited dutifully until the offseason before making a decision well within his rights as a player.
Still, though his decision is certainly defensible, it didn’t win over very many fans outside of the Bay Area. Shortly after Durant’s personal essay detailing his thought process regarding the move to Oakland was published, Stephen A. Smith of ESPN tweeted a sentiment to which skeptical fans could relate. Smith called Durant’s decision a “weak move”, lambasting the superstar for opting to sign with the team that just rallied to eliminate the Thunder in the 2016 Western Conference Finals.
Needless to say, when Durant takes the floor for the Warriors this evening, emotions will be at an all-time high. Earlier this morning Howard Beck of Bleacher Report tweeted that the ugliest sports scene he ever witnessed first-hand was LeBron James‘ first game back in Cleveland after signing with the Heat in the summer of 2010.
How do you think Durant’s return to Oklahoma City will go? Do fans have the right to boo an ex-star that did so much for the franchise? If so, how far is too far when fans react negatively?
Weigh in below!