Omer Asik

Omer Asik, Quincy Pondexter Out For Season

MARCH 30: The Pelicans confirmed today that neither Asik nor Pondexter will return to action this season. Asik, who is recovering from a gastrointestinal infection, is expected to resume basketball activities in about three or four weeks.

MARCH 24: Two players on the Pelicans’ roster, center Omer Asik and shooting guard Quincy Pondexter, are not expected to return for the rest of this season, head coach Alvin Gentry confirmed today, per Justin Verrier of ESPN.com.

“Both of those guys will be gearing toward the summer and next year, really,” Gentry said.

Asik, who started 19 of the 31 games he played for the Pelicans earlier this season, hasn’t been a real part of the club’s rotation since mid-December. The veteran center has appeared in just three games for New Orleans since December 21, and hasn’t seen the court at all since February 10. As Verrier notes, Asik contracted a bacterial infection that caused him to lose a significant amount of weight.

As for Pondexter, it has been a long road back for the 29-year-old, who has been sidelined by knee injuries for each of the last two seasons. Pondexter hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since April 2015, when he was a starter for the Pelicans in their first-round loss to the Warriors.

While it’s not particularly surprising that Asik and Pondexter won’t return for the Pelicans this season, it will be interesting to see how they fit into the team’s plans going forward. Asik’s contract continues to be an albatross for New Orleans — it will exceed $10.5MM next season and increase to $11.2MM+ in 2018/19. Pondexter, meanwhile, has one more year left on his deal at just under $4MM next season. Both players could be on the trade block this summer, though they’ll probably have very limited value.

Trade Rumors: Chandler, OKC, Pelicans, Raps, Suns

It’s trade deadline day in the NBA, and Hoops Rumors will have you covered with all the latest news and rumors leading up to today’s 2:00pm central deadline. Let’s check in on a few Thursday mornings rumblings…

  • According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, potential Wilson Chandler suitors may be unwilling to meet the Nuggets‘ asking price, which is higher than expected. If that’s the case, Denver would prefer to simply keep Chandler and push for a playoff spot.
  • Arron Afflalo and Nick Young are among the names that have been linked to the Thunder as they seek a wing scorer, according to Kyler.
  • The Pelicans, who now have two pricey big man under contract and will look to re-sign Jrue Holiday to a lucrative new deal this summer, are looking to move some contracts, tweets David Aldridge of TNT. Aldridge identifies Alexis Ajinca and Quincy Pondexter as players who are available in New Orleans. Of course, the Pelicans would love to move Omer Asik‘s deal as well, though that’s less likely.
  • Today’s big decision for the Raptors will be whether to give up a future first-round pick – likely attached to Jared Sullinger‘s expiring deal – for Suns forward P.J. Tucker, says ESPN’s Marc Stein (Twitter link). Sportsnet’s Michael Grange (via Twitter) gets the sense that Toronto would strongly prefer to keep its pick in a loaded 2017 draft. Still, the Raps are fond of Tucker, tweets Doug Smith of The Toronto Star.
  • According to Stein (via Twitter), the Suns continue to explore the market for deals involving Brandon Knight and other veteran players, including Tyson Chandler. However, the team has “struggled all week” to find traction for that sort of trade.

Pelicans Seeking Center, Dangling 2018 Pick

The Pelicans were at the center of an interesting trade rumor on Monday night, having been linked to the Sixers in a possible Jahlil Okafor deal. However, those Okafor discussions weren’t the only talks New Orleans has engaged in recently, as Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports. According to Wojnarowski (all Twitter links), the Pelicans have been active on various fronts in their efforts to add a center, dangling multiple assets, including their 2018 first-round pick.

In addition to the Okafor discussions, New Orleans’ search for a center has resulted in a pursuit of Nets big man Brook Lopez, according to Wojnarowski, who reports that the Pelicans have been exploring larger deals in the hopes of unloading Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca. Asik and Ajinca, who will earn a combined $15.56MM next season, are under contract for multiple years and aren’t a part of the team’s rotation.

The Pelicans still own their 2017 first-round pick, but the team is reluctant to move that selection. This year’s draft class is expected to be one of the deepest and most talented in the last decade, and New Orleans is on track to have a lottery pick — our reverse standings show that the Pelicans are currently tied with the Kings for the NBA’s seventh-worst record.

While the Sixers are said to have some interest in a deal with the Pelicans, it’s not clear if a reported offer of Ajinca and New Orleans’ 2018 first-rounder will be enough for Philadelphia. Sam Amick of USA Today tweets that the protection on the 2018 pick is a sticking point for the Sixers, who may be looking for more value anyway. Meanwhile, various reports have suggested that Philadelphia would like to find a way to include Jrue Holiday in any deal.

As for the Nets and Lopez, multiple outlets have reported in recent weeks that Brooklyn wants to secure two first-round picks in any deal for its standout center. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders wrote this morning that Brooklyn is seeking a 2017 lottery pick – plus an additional first-rounder – in any package for Lopez, so the Nets would presumably be interested if the Pelicans wanted to discuss this year’s pick.

I’d be surprised if New Orleans is willing to meet the Nets’ asking price, and it remains to be seen what sort of deal the Sixers would accept. Still, the Pelicans are actively scouring the trade market, and appear to be a good bet to make a deal in the coming weeks.

Sixers, Pelicans Discussing Jahlil Okafor Trade

8:49 PM: League sources tell Jon Johnson of WIP (Twitter link) that the Sixers and Pelicans are searching for a third team to get involved in an Okafor deal.

4:50 PM: Keith Smith of RealGM reiterated a previous report that a trade won’t be completed today, as the two teams missed a 5 PM EST cutoff. What’s more, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today notes that the Sixers are in no rush to trade Okafor, as multiple teams around the league are interested in him.

4:21 PM: While the trade has not been completed, its structure appears to be Alexis Ajinca and a future first round draft pick for Jahlil Okafor, according to Marc Stein of ESPN. Keith Smith of RealGM adds that the deal likely won’t be completed today, as the Sixers want to re-engage on bringing Jrue Holiday back to Philadelphia. David Aldridge of NBA.com provided a sobering view of trade talks, noting that the deal is “not imminent.”

3:39 PM: The Sixers and Pelicans are “in talks” about a Jahlil Okafor trade, according to Sam Amick of USA Today. Philadelphia would push for a first round pick from New Orleans, Amick adds. The report has been corroborated by Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

Marc J. Spears of ESPN shed further light on the potential deal, noting that Alexis Ajinca and a future first round pick could be sent to Philadelphia. Draft pick compensation could be a factor holding up negotiations, according to Keith Smith of RealGM; if the Pelicans give up a protected first round pick, they’d reportedly expect Philadelphia to take on Ajinca or Omer Asik‘s contract. Jahlil Okafor could fit the mold of an “offensive-minded big man” to use alongside Anthony DavisMarc Stein of ESPN notes.

Unloading Asik’s contract has been a priority for the Pelicans, Wojnarowski reports. The Sixers are hesitant to take on Asik, who is in the second year of a five-year, $57,977,525 deal. Interestingly, Wojnarowski reports the Pelicans have discussed Brook Lopez in their pursuit of a center.

In Amick’s full report for USA Today, Okafor’s “marginalized” role is noted to have been a motivating factor for GM Bryan Colangelo, who has engaged with eight teams on the former No. 3 overall pick.

Pelicans Notes: Team Ownership, Asik, Hill, Jones

Tom Benson, owner of the Pelicans and New Orleans Saints, reached a settlement with his estranged heirs, Brett Martel of the Associated Press reports. Benson, 89, had sought to prevent his daughter and her children from inheriting shares of each team (more than 90% of the Pelicans’ non-voting stock, according to ESPN). Had Benson not reached a settlement with his heirs, a trial would have been set to take place Monday, February 6. Benson, who bought the Pelicans (then the New Orleans Hornets) for $338MM in 2012, will maintain controlling shares of each team after the settlement.

More surrounding the Pelicans…

  • Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com praised Terrence Jones‘ pump fake, calling it one of the league’s most unique and effective moves. Jones has enjoyed a stellar bounceback season in New Orleans, averaging 15.7 points with 5.3 rebounds over his last six games. “It’s so damn slow, and it looks just like his shot,” teammate Dante Cunningham said of Jones’ pump fake. “The thing is, you don’t always immediately close out to him, because he’s not necessarily going to kill you with his jump shot, because he’d rather drive and get to the rim. But you watch him and he does it so slowly that you think, ‘Oh, he has to shoot this one,’ so you contest it, but then by the time you get there, he’s still pump-faking.” A free agent-to-be on an affordable contract, Jones is likely to generate interest as the trade deadline approaches.
  • John Reid of NOLA.com had several interesting observations in his Twitter mailbag. Reid endorsed the idea of New Orleans pursuing Wilson Chandler of the Nuggets, calling him an ideal player to use alongside Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. Reid lamented the team’s lack of offense, claiming they “just don’t have enough scoring threats on the roster.”
  • Pelicans GM Dell Demps should be making every effort to unload Tyreke Evans, Alexis Ajinca, and Omer Asik via trade, Reid writes. Additionally, Solomon Hill– inked to a four-year, $48MM contract over the offseason- has not performed up to team expectations. Whereas the team expected Hill to develop into a two-way player, his contributions have largely come on the defensive end.

Pelicans Notes: Asik, Ajinca, Backcourt, Evans

Centers Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca have dropped completely out of the Pelicans rotation as the team has found success with small-ball lineups, Justin Verrier of ESPN.com reports. Asik and Ajinca have been glued to the bench the last three games while the club has reeled off four consecutive victories. Forwards Dante Cunningham and  Solomon Hill are the biggest beneficiaries of coach Alvin Gentry’s altered rotation, and their increased minutes have allowed the Pelicans to switch defensively much more easily, Verrier continues. New Orleans has the league’s 12th ­best offensive rating and fourth-best defensive rating since the shakeup earlier this week, Verrier adds. Franchise player Anthony Davis is thrilled with the new look, as he told Verrier. “When we play small it gives us an advantage on both ends of the floor.” he said.

In other developments regarding the Pelicans:

  • Gentry is enjoying the pleasant dilemma of having too many options at the guard spots, Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com writes. Gentry prefers not to have more than four backcourt players in the rotation, Eichenhofer notes. Jrue Holiday and rookie Buddy Hield are the current starters, leaving Gentry to choose from the quartet of Langston Galloway, E’Twaun Moore, Tyreke Evans and Tim Frazier for the remaining minutes. “It’s good to have the depth and have an opportunity that if things aren’t going real well, to stick another guy in and see if he has it for that night,” Gentry told Eichenhofer.
  • Evans, who can also play small forward, will see an uptick in minutes soon, according to John Reid of the New Orleans Times Picayune. Evans had been on a 15-minute per game restriction since returning from knee surgery and is still not cleared to play both games of back-to-backs, Reid continues. Gentry told Reid and other media members that his minutes would increase to 18 or 20 per game on a regular basis. Evans played 18 minutes against the Knicks on Friday. “I don’t think he’s going to go from 15 to 30,” Gentry said. “I think there’s a possibility that he could play 18 minutes or 20 minutes, that’s the natural progression that’s going to happen.”

Omer Asik Remains On Trade Block

Nearly a year after the Pelicans first reportedly made Omer Asik available, he remains on the trade block in New Orleans, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com. A league source tells Blakely that Asik is “very much available” once again this season.

The news doesn’t come as a real surprise, since Asik was the subject of trade rumors last year as soon as he become eligible to be dealt on December 15. Although his name surfaced again several times before the 2016 deadline, the veteran center ultimately stayed put, with his pricey five-year contract negatively impacting his trade value. A year later, following the NBA salary cap’s jump from $70MM to $94MM+, Asik’s long-term deal may be a little more palatable.

Asik is currently in the second year of a five-year contract that is fully guaranteed through 2018/19. His cap hit for this season is about $9.9MM, as he continues to play a modest role in New Orleans, contributing just 3.3 PPG and 6.0 RPG in 17.5 minutes per contest.

As Blakely notes, the Celtics are among the teams that have had interest in Asik at various times in the past. However, a league source tells the CSN scribe that Boston is unlikely to make a move anytime soon unless it drastically improves the team’s chances of making a deep playoff run. In other words, the first priority for GM Danny Ainge is to land a star — if that’s not possible, he may circle back to a secondary piece or two closer to the deadline.

While Ainge may be prioritizing an impact player, acquiring a solid rim protector and rebounder would help balance the Celtics’ lineup in the second half of the season. The team has also been linked to Andrew Bogut, though the Mavs aren’t shopping the former No. 1 pick at this time.

Southwest Notes: Curry, Carlisle, Asik, Anderson

With a famous father and an even more famous brother, Seth Curry is working to build his own reputation in his first season with the Mavericks, writes Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com. After limited opportunities with three teams, Curry began to show what he can do in 44 games with the Kings last season, averaging 6.8 points per night and shooting 45% from 3-point range. That potential turned into a two-year, $6MM offer from Dallas and the chance for an expanded role with a veteran team. The son of 16-year veteran Dell Curry and brother of two-time MVP Stephen Curry, Seth has the family pedigree to be a great NBA shooter. “He could legitimately play both guard positions, and he’s going to be a factor for us,” said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle. “He’s better than I thought he was, and he’s at an age where he’s still getting better really at both positions, so I’m excited about him.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Carlisle says seven players are competing for two open roster spots, Sneed relays (Twitter link). Dallas has 14 players in camp with fully guaranteed contracts, but it sounds like at least one – likely Jonathan Gibson – has yet to lock up a regular-season job.
  • Pelicans center Omer Asik started 64 of the 68 games he appeared in last season, but that number will drop this year, according to John Reid of The Times Picayune. Coach Alvin Gentry said today that he plans to use Anthony Davis in the post more often and not worry about having a traditional center. Alexis Ajinca and Terrence Jones may also be used in the starting lineup, depending on the opponent. That means fewer minutes for Asik, who is still guaranteed more than $32MM over the next three seasons on the contract he signed last summer. ”Last season really left a bad taste, so we are really working hard to change that,” Asik said. ”My whole focus this summer was to get better physically and get stronger.”
  • New Rockets power forward Ryan Anderson is happy to leave behind the Pelicans‘ offense, writes Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports. Anderson, one of the league’s best shooting stretch fours, saw his average of 3-point shots dip to 5.6 per game over the last two years after being close to 7.0 the three previous seasons. That number should rise dramatically now that he is playing for coach Mike D’Antoni in Houston. “I’ve had more wide-open looks in our pickup games here than I’ve had in the past four years, probably,” Anderson said.

And-Ones: Johnson, Celtics, Pelicans, Lee

The Cavaliers think would-be post-buyout target Joe Johnson wants to stay in Brooklyn and that he’ll seek to sign an extension with the Nets, a source told Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. People around Johnson say he won’t take a buyout, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.

There’s more from around the basketball world as the trade deadline approaches:
  • The Celtics are willing to trade the unprotected 2016 first-round pick they have coming their way from the Nets if it would shake Blake Griffin loose from the Clippers, sources tell Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. However, Boston wouldn’t deal the pick for either Kevin Love or Al Horford, Bulpett hears.
  • The Pelicans shopped Eric Gordon and Omer Asik, but they haven’t found much interest, sources tell John Reid of The Times Picayune. New Orleans reportedly offered Gordon and Alonzo Gee to the Kings for Rudy Gay earlier this season, and the Pelicans apparently had talks with the Cavs that involved Asik after making him available in December.
  • The Grizzlies shipped $542,714 cash to the Hornets as part of the Courtney Lee tradeEric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reveals.
  • Jameer Nelson is running out of alternatives to season-ending surgery on a severely sprained left wrist, but he’ll continue to try to play for the time being after receiving an injection meant to ease the pain he’s feeling, as Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post details. He missed the Nuggets‘ last six games before the All-Star break.
  • The Bulls were interested in Trevor Ariza and Corey Brewer earlier this season, but the Rockets rebuffed their entreaties, reports Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com (Twitter link).
  • The Pistons would love to make one more move before the trade deadline, GM Jeff Bower said today in an appearance on WDFN-AM radio, notes Rod Beard of The Detroit News (Twitter link). The team is reportedly scanning the market for veteran guards, but Bower said the Pistons are looking at the options available at every position and added that coach/executive Stan Van Gundy has confidence in Steve Blake as the team’s backup point guard, Beard also relays (on Twitter).
  • The Grizzlies recalled James Ennis from the team’s D-League affiliate in Iowa, the team announced today. Ennis has appeared in 15 games with the Energy, averaging 16.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists per night. He has played in 10 games for Memphis, averaging 1.3 points in 3.6 minutes.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Cavs Eye Korver, Evans, Asik; Kings Reject Mozgov

The Cavaliers are interested in Kyle Korver and also have Tyreke Evans and Omer Asik on their radar, while recent talks with the Kings about Timofey Mozgov have met with rejection from Sacramento, Brian Windhorst of ESPN said in a radio appearance today on ESPN Cleveland’s “The Really Big Show,” according to a series of tweets from ESPN Cleveland. The Cavs have also been showcasing Anderson Varejao for a trade, Windhorst said, nonetheless adding that it doesn’t seem he’s drawing much interest. It’s unlikely that Cleveland lands Korver, Windhorst also said, though the relatively likelihood of Evans, Asik and Mozgov changing teams is unclear. The Cavs and Pelicans had talks earlier that involved Mozgov and Asik, but the Cavs were reluctant to deal, as Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports reported last month.

Atlanta has reportedly solicited offers for Jeff Teague and Dennis Schröder of late and isn’t entirely certain that Al Horford will re-sign in free agency this summer, and Windhorst speculates that the Hawks could be sellers. They’re in fifth place in the Eastern Conference at 30-24, having already lost more games than they did during the entire regular season last year. Korver is under contract through next season, at more than $5.746MM this year and more than $5.239MM for 2016/17. His normally elite 3-point shooting is down to 38.3% this season, but that’s still better than most, and the Cavs have reportedly sought to add long distance shooting and defense to the wing.

New Orleans has reportedly sized up the market for Tyreke Evans and had discussions about trading him, though it’s unknown whether those talks were internal or external. The former Rookie of the Year is out until at least the All-Star break with tendinitis in his right knee. He’s once more been seeing time at point guard, where he’s matching his career high with 6.6 assists per game, though it would seem more logical that Cleveland would have interest in him as a wing player. His salary of nearly $10.734MM is just barely outside the bounds of the $10,522,500 trade exception Cleveland has as a vestige of Brendan Haywood. That’s true even though Evans’ salary for next season, the last year on his contract, is only about $10.204MM.

Asik’s numbers are off significantly this year, having suffered a right calf strain in the preseason that continued to bother him well into the regular season. The five-year, nearly $53MM contract he signed this past offseason looks player-friendly so far, though his more than $9.213MM salary for this year would fit within Cleveland’s exception.

He’d ostensibly offset the lack of production the Cavs have seen from Mozgov, who has also been slow to recover from injury, having undergone offseason surgery on his right knee. I examined Mozgov’s trade candidacy shortly after Wojnarowski reported that the Cavs had begun to explore the trade market for him. Sacramento would be an odd fit for him, given the presence of big men DeMarcus Cousins, Kosta Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein, though it’s unclear what the Kings would have relinquished in Cleveland’s proposals. Mozgov is making $4.95MM this season on an expiring contract.

Varejao saw 27 minutes of action against the Pelicans on Saturday, but his minutes have otherwise been spotty. The longtime confidant of LeBron James is making $9.638MM this season in the first year of a three-year extension.

Do you see a deal involving any of these names that the Cavs should make? Leave a comment to tell us.

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