Orlando Magic

Northwest Notes: Mudiay, Thibodeau, Stephenson

The performance of Nuggets rookie guard Jamal Murray has made Emmanuel Mudiay expendable, writes Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post. Veteran Jameer Nelson has become the starting point guard as Denver pushes for a playoff spot, and Kiszla sees Murray as a better backup to both Nelson and Gary Harris than Mudiay is. That leaves little playing time for last year’s first-round pick, who may now be more valuable to the Nuggets as a trade chip. Kiszla would like to see the Nuggets pursue Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, but admits that Denver doesn’t have the pieces to make that happen. He also mentions Atlanta’s Thabo Sefolosha as a target, but not in a one-for-one deal for Mudiay.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Tom Thibodeau’s new dual role as Timberwolves coach and president of basketball operations leaves no time for a vacation during the All-Star break, writes Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. Zgoda lists seven possible targets for Minnesota before Thursday’s trade deadline: Chicago’s Taj Gibson, Orlando’s Bismack Biyombo, Denver’s Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler, Cleveland’s Iman Shumpert, Phoenix’s P.J. Tucker and Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel.
  • Lance Stephenson is looking at a two-week recovery from his Grade 2 ankle sprain, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News in Minneapolis. Stephenson’s 10-day contract expired this weekend, and it’s uncertain whether the Timberwolves will be interested in signing him again once he has recovered.
  • The Jazz may add short-term salary to help them get above the cap floor, but they will be reluctant to take on long-term salary in any deal, writes Ryan McDonald of The Deseret News. Utah’s top priority this summer will be to re-sign Gordon Hayward, who will want a max contract with an annual salary in the $25MM to $30MM range. The Jazz also want to keep free agent point guard George Hill, who will demand about $20MM per season, and Rudy Gobert‘s extension will kick in next season, starting at more than $21.2MM next year. That ties up three players making more than $70MM, which limits Utah’s roster flexibility.

Celtics May Pursue Danilo Gallinari

The Celtics may try to pick up Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari before Thursday’s trade deadline, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald.

Boston GM Danny Ainge has long been a fan of Gallinari, according to Bulpett, and has tried to deal for him before. There haven’t been any trade rumors linking the Celtics and Gallinari this year, but the author notes that was also true with Isaiah Thomas before Ainge dealt for him two years ago.

Gallinari has been slowed by a groin injury and hasn’t played since February 1st. He has a player option worth $16.1MM next season.

Boston is hoping to add another scorer through trade, and Ainge has been active in talks during All-Star Weekend, both as a main participant and a facilitator, according to Bulpett. So far, Ainge hasn’t found a deal worth giving up his most valuable assets, which include the Nets’ first-rounders this season and in 2018.

“Danny’s let it be known that he’s willing to talk about the Nets’ picks,” said an unidentified executive. “But you want one of those guys, you have to be willing to give up a star.”

Ainge would also prefer to stay away from players whose contracts expire this year or next year. The Celtics had some interest in Serge Ibaka before Orlando traded him to Toronto, but they weren’t willing to part with much because they weren’t sure they could re-sign him in free agency.

Bulpett adds that the Celtics are very protective of their cap space and are reluctant to make a move that would hurt them on the free agent market. He speculates that it would take someone like Jimmy Butler or Paul George to tempt Boston to add significant salary in a pre-deadline trade.

The Celtics are also significantly less interested in trading for Jahlil Okafor than they were a year ago, Bulpett notes. They had talked to the Sixers about an Okafor deal at last year’s deadline, but after signing Al Horford the Celtics only want front-line players who they believe are compatible with him. Boston might have more interest in Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel, but the team won’t offer as much as it would have in 2016.

The author believes the Celtics would love to pick up Andrew Bogut from Dallas if the Mavericks decide to be sellers, but again wouldn’t pay a high price in a deal.

Southeast Notes: Battier, Beal, Ibaka, Ross, Mahinmi

Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel wondered if Shane Battier, recently hired as the Heat‘s Director of Basketball Development and Analytics, will eventually assume leadership of the franchise from Pat Riley. For the interim, Winderman writes, Battier’s position will be the “first step” toward a post-Riley front office. Battier will work alongside Andy Elisburg and Nick Arison, executives with an advanced “business-of-basketball” acumen. While there is no reason to believe Riley is ready to step away from the game, Winderman could see Riley moving into a role similar to Jerry West’s with the Lakers; an executive board member who isn’t accountable for mundane, day-to-day front office operations.

More from around the Southeast…

  • Jared Dudley of the Suns stuck up for his former teammate, claiming Bradley Beal was snubbed of an All-Star roster spot. “The @NBA tells us players that winning matters! Wizards are the hottest team in the NBA! Bradley Beal is healthy and balling!”, Dudley tweeted on Thursday. (Twitter link) Keely Diven of CSN Mid-Atlantic argued that Carmelo Anthony received the All-Star nod due to his ability to attract media attention. Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today gave further insight to ‘Melo’s selection, noting that Anthony received more votes from coaches than Beal.
  • Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders described it as “a little obvious” that Serge Ibaka did not bond with his teammates in Orlando. Ibaka, who was dealt to Toronto on February 14, didn’t mesh with the playing styles of Orlando’s younger players (Twitter link). By Kyler’s account, it seems that Ibaka’s teammates “had real issues” with the 27-year-old, and welcomed a change.
  • Terrence Ross told Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders that he embraced the “fresh start” in Orlando. “I was kind of aware that something could have been happening before the deadline so it wasn’t too shocking,” Ross said. “At the same time, being drafted to a team and playing for one team, it’s a little different, but I’m enjoying the process. It’s a good opportunity. It’s a new fresh start for me and I’m looking forward to it. I just kind of hope we can bring some of that experience I got in Toronto and bring it here, and really just helping wherever I can.” Ross, who has averaged 10.4 points through 54 games in 2016/17, is in the first season of a three-year, $31.5MM contract.
  • Jason Smith will likely see a dip in minutes as the Wizards ease Ian Mahinmi into the lineup, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post writes. Smith, who has averaged 7.8 points with 4.8 rebounds over his last six games, has been a serviceable back-up to starter Marcin Gortat“What he’s [Smith] done the last two or three months is what he’s done his entire career and he’s been terrific,” said Coach Scott Brooks. “But if you have a good team, everybody’s going to have to sacrifice. It’s not just Jason, starters are going to have to sacrifice.”

Pistons, Magic Have Discussed Reggie Jackson Deal

The Magic sent Serge Ibaka to Toronto in a trade earlier this week, and GM Rob Hennigan may not be done dealing yet. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein (via Twitter), Orlando and Detroit have discussed a swap that would send Reggie Jackson to the Magic in exchange for D.J. Augustin and Jeff Green.

Today’s report comes just two days after ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote that the Pistons had explored the trade market for Jackson and had come away disappointed with what teams were willing to give up for the veteran point guard. However, even though Lowe suggested Jackson’s trade value had “cratered,” the ESPN analyst didn’t rule out a possible deal, noting that Orlando would be an intriguing fit because Hennigan was in Oklahoma City’s front office when the Thunder drafted Jackson.

[RELATED: Trade Deadline Outlook: Southeast Division]

Lowe’s piece also featured quotes from Stan Van Gundy and Andre Drummond on the Pistons’ struggles to adjust to Jackson’s return to the lineup this season after establishing some early-season chemistry with Ish Smith at the point.

As Stein himself notes (via Twitter), there’s no indication yet that these talks will turn into anything serious, but it would be an interesting move for two sub-.500 teams who had hopes of contending this season.

Both Jackson and Augustin are under team control through the 2019/20 season, but Augustin’s salary ($7.25MM annually) is much more affordable than Jackson’s ($17MM+ per year after this season). Green, meanwhile, is on a $15MM expiring deal, so a deal centered around those three players would create some future flexibility for the Pistons and would give the Magic a long-term answer at point guard, perhaps opening up the door for an Elfrid Payton trade.

It’s worth noting that if the Pistons were to trade Jackson, they could take back up to about $20MM in salary (the value of Jackson’s salary, plus $5MM). Green and Augustin make a combined $22.25MM, so at least one more piece would need to be involved in this hypothetical transaction.

While the Pistons and Magic may not ultimately agree to a deal with one another, both teams figure to continue scouring the market before next Thursday’s trade deadline.

Trade Deadline Outlook: Southeast Division

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 and Northwest. Today, we’re examining the Southeast.

Buyers:

The Wizards (33-21) have been one of the NBA’s best teams since the first 10 games of the 2016/17 season, but their roster probably isn’t quite deep or talented enough to match up to a healthy Cavaliers squad in the playoffs. Washington doesn’t exactly have a huge collection of promising young players to dangle in trade talks, but the team does have all of its future first-round picks, and could use at least one of them to strengthen its rotation. A deal similar to last year’s Markieff Morris acquisition wouldn’t move the needle enough to make the Wizards conference favorites, but it would make the club a little more dangerous in the postseason without mortgaging much of its future.

The Southeast’s second-place team, the Hawks (32-24), looked like sellers a month ago, but the team is prepared to buy now, and has several future draft picks and expiring contracts to dangle in trade discussions. As some observers have pointed out, Atlanta actually looks like a good fit for Carmelo Anthony, matching up better as a trade partner for the Knicks than most of Carmelo’s preferred destinations. Anthony’s no-trade clause makes a move to the Hawks extremely unlikely though, so the team will have to look elsewhere for scoring help on the wing or in the backcourt.

Read more

Florida Notes: Ibaka, Ross, Wade, Riley

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.”

And-Ones: Blue, BIG3, NBPA, Draft, Expansion

NBA D-League veteran Vander Blue has appeared in more than 150 NBADL games since making his debut in 2013, and once again ranks among the league’s scoring leaders this season. In 35 games for the Los Angeles D-Fenders, Blue has averaged 25.2 PPG and has shot 37.2% on three-point attempts.

Despite his success in the D-League, the former Marquette standout has only appeared in five NBA regular-season games. Nonetheless, at age 24, he continues to believe he’s deserving a longer look in the NBA, telling Alberto de Roa of HoopsHype that he knows it’s eventually going to happen. In fact, as he focuses on producing for the D-Fenders and earning another shot in the NBA, he says he’s not considering more lucrative offers overseas.

“I told my agent I don’t really wanna hear about overseas right now,” Blue said. “I feel like if I start thinking about that I’m gonna lose focus about what I need to do here. And I want my mind, my soul, my body all to be in one spot so I can really be the best I can be.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from across the NBA:

  • The BIG3 has confirmed another new team, announcing in a press release that Chauncey Billups, Stephen Jackson, and three other players will team up on a club called the Killer 3s. Previously, we heard that Rashard Lewis and Jason Williams would co-captain a team called the 3 Headed Monsters.
  • TNT’s David Aldridge spoke to NBPA executive director Michele Roberts, engaging in an interesting Q&A on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and her role as an advocate for the league’s players.
  • ESPN’s Chad Ford (Insider link) has updated his latest 2017 mock draft in the wake of this week’s trades, which saw two first-round picks change hands. The Trail Blazers and Magic acquired first-rounders from Denver and Toronto, respectively, so Ford has incorporated new picks for those teams.
  • There’s no indication that the NBA is seriously considering expansion at the moment, but that didn’t stop Tom Ziller of SBNation.com from identifying his top 13 candidates for a new NBA franchise, from an obvious choice (Seattle) at No. 1 to a surprise choice at No. 13.

Knicks, Lakers Top Forbes’ NBA Franchise Valuations

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:

  1. New York Knicks: $3.3 billion
  2. Los Angeles Lakers: $3 billion
  3. Golden State Warriors: $2.6 billion
  4. Chicago Bulls: $2.5 billion
  5. Boston Celtics: $2.2 billion
  6. Los Angeles Clippers; $2 billion
  7. Brooklyn Nets: $1.8 billion
  8. Houston Rockets: $1.65 billion
  9. Dallas Mavericks: $1.45 billion
  10. Miami Heat: $1.35 billion
  11. Cleveland Cavaliers: $1.2 billion
  12. San Antonio Spurs: $1.175 billion
  13. Toronto Raptors: $1.125 billion
  14. Phoenix Suns: $1.1 billion
  15. Sacramento Kings: $1.075 billion
  16. Portland Trail Blazers: $1.05 billion
  17. Oklahoma City Thunder: $1.025 billion
  18. Washington Wizards: $1 billion
  19. Orlando Magic: $920MM
  20. Utah Jazz: $910MM
  21. Detroit Pistons: $900MM
  22. Denver Nuggets: $890MM
  23. Atlanta Hawks: $885MM
  24. Indiana Pacers: $880MM
  25. Philadelphia 76ers: $800MM
  26. Memphis Grizzlies: $790MM
  27. Milwaukee Bucks: $785MM
  28. Charlotte Hornets: $780MM
  29. Minnesota Timberwolves: $770MM
  30. New Orleans Pelicans: $750MM

For comparison’s sake, Forbes’ 2016 valuations can be found right here.

Pistons Rumors: Drummond, Jackson, Johnson

The Pistons have “quietly explored” the trade market for Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, two of their roster’s centerpieces, Zach Lowe of ESPN.com reports in his latest piece, which is a deep dive into the situation in Detroit. According to Lowe, the Pistons came away disappointed with what teams might be willing to offer for Drummond or Jackson, reducing the likelihood of either player being moved in the next eight days.

Still, while a Drummond trade remains an “extreme long shot,” a deal involving Jackson isn’t entirely off the table. Lowe suggests the Timberwolves, Magic, and Pelicans are among the potential suitors for the veteran point guard, if Detroit is willing to settle for a modest return. Per Lowe, Jackson’s value has “cratered,” and a player like Ricky Rubio is one of the few solid starters the Pistons could get in any trade package. Lottery teams seeking a long-term solution at point guard are unwilling to move their first-round picks for Jackson, and Detroit isn’t ready to simply dump him for a collection of expiring contracts.

In his attempt to find a potential trade partner for a Jackson deal, Lowe identifies the Magic and Nuggets, pointing to players like Elfrid Payton and Emmanuel Mudiay as possible trade pieces. However, while Mudiay is believed to be available, Denver doesn’t appear to have interest in Jackson. Lowe notes that Orlando is an “intriguing” possibility, since GM Rob Hennigan was in Oklahoma City’s front office when the team drafted Jackson.

Here’s more from Lowe on Jackson, along with a few other intriguing Pistons-related tidbits:

  • The Pelicans have kicked the tires on Jackson, but never engaged in serious talks, league sources tell Lowe.
  • According to Lowe, several Pistons players criticized Jackson during a December players-only meeting for his apparent lack of effort on defense. Drummond tells Lowe that the criticism “wasn’t cool,” since Jackson was coming off an injury and wasn’t yet 100%. However, both Drummond and Stan Van Gundy acknowledge that the team has struggled to adjust to Jackson’s presence on the court this year after finding a groove early in the season with Ish Smith handling the point.
  • According to Lowe, a fear that top free agents won’t come to Detroit has pushed the Pistons to acquire solid players on good contracts when they become available. Those players aren’t always a fit with Drummond and Van Gundy, which has contributed to some of the team’s roster issues.
  • Multiple teams, including the Spurs, made an effort to nab Stanley Johnson in a trade after Van Gundy publicly called out the second-year forward earlier in the season. Although the Pistons rebuffed those efforts, the team has been frustrated by Devin Booker‘s development in comparison to Johnson’s, since the draft room was “almost deadlocked” between those two players in 2015, says Lowe.
  • The Pistons are unlikely to make a major move until closer to the draft, since they want to make the playoffs and are reluctant to do anything that will adversely impact their odds of earning a postseason spot, says Lowe. The ESPN analyst notes that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s pending restricted free agency will be an interesting case to follow this offseason, since the Pistons may have to shed a salary – perhaps Tobias Harris‘ or Boban Marjanovic‘s – if they need to match a max offer sheet for Caldwell-Pope.

Magic Trade Serge Ibaka To Raptors

4:50pm: The Magic and Raptors have each confirmed the trade as reported, making it official (Twitter links).

10:13am: The Magic and Raptors have agreed to a trade that will send Serge Ibaka to Toronto, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. According to Wojnarowski, the Magic will receive Terrence Ross and a 2017 first-round pick in the swap.SergeIbaka vertical

The Raptors hold a pair of first-round picks for 2017, having acquired the Clippers’ lottery-protected first-rounder in addition to their own. According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Orlando will get the less favorable of those two selections. As our 2016/17 Reverse Standings show, the Raptors’ pick currently projects to land at No. 20 or 21, while the Clippers’ pick would be No. 25, though the standings remain tight.

For the Magic, it’s essentially an admission that last summer’s Ibaka trade was a misstep. At the time, Orlando parted with a package of Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and a lottery pick (Domantas Sabonis) for the Oklahoma City big man. Ibaka’s value has declined a little as his contract nears its end, but a package of Ross and a late first-rounder still pales in comparison to what the Magic initially gave up for the 27-year-old.

[RELATED: Magic GM Acknowledges Criticism Is ‘Warranted’]

Still, last summer’s trade was a sunk cost for GM Rob Hennigan, who had vowed to be “aggressive” in pursuing trades this month. Reports had indicated Ibaka was unlikely to re-sign with Orlando this offseason, so the Magic were at least able to add a pair of assets that will help the team beyond 2016/17. Ross is under contract at a rate of $10.5MM annually for two years beyond this season, while the player drafted with Orlando’s newly-acquired 2017 first-rounder will be under team control through at least 2020/21. Hennigan will likely continue to be active on the trade market leading up to next Thursday’s deadline.

The Magic are also able to create a modest trade exception worth $2.25MM in the deal. That’s the difference between the 2016/17 salaries for Ibaka ($12.25MM) and Ross ($10MM). That trade exception will expire one year from now.

From the Raptors’ perspective, the deal will give them the stretch four they have long coveted. Although the team has been linked to several other power forwards – including Paul Millsap, Danilo Gallinari, and Taj Gibson – Ibaka’s name has perhaps been the one most frequently connected to Toronto in trade rumors. The Raps reportedly tried to acquire Ibaka during the 2016 draft, offering up their own lottery pick in a package, but were unable to match the Magic’s offer at the time.

Although Ibaka will be a free agent this summer, the Raptors now hold his Bird rights and have every intention of trying to re-sign him, tweets Wojnarowski. With Ibaka and Kyle Lowry both in line for lucrative new long-term deals in free agency in July, it will be interesting to see if Toronto moves another contract or two off its books in order to avoid going deep into luxury tax territory. It’s also worth noting that Ibaka and Lowry share an agent in ASM’s Andy Miller.

In the shorter term, Ibaka will join a Raptors frontcourt that features Valanciunas, Patrick Patterson, and Lucas Nogueira, while Norman Powell will be the top candidate to assume a good chunk of Ross’ minutes. In addition to providing some of the rim protection and rebounding that the team lost when Bismack Biyombo departed in free agency, Ibaka will also give Toronto an outside threat on offense.

Although he didn’t shoot much from beyond the arc earlier in his career, Ibaka has developed into a reliable option from outside, making a career-high 38.8% of his long-distance attempts this season. He’s also averaging a career-high 15.1 PPG to go along with 6.8 RPG and 1.6 BPG.

The timing of the move is good for the Raptors, who have been slumping so far in 2017. After posting a losing record in January, the team is just 2-4 so far in February, and will look to regain ground on the Cavaliers, as well as the surging Celtics and Wizards.

Before the Magic and Raptors struck a deal, Ibaka was believed to be drawing interest from the Heat, among other teams. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link), other offers for Ibaka were believed to be “shockingly weak,” with the big man’s impending free agency limiting his trade value.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Get the hottest NBA news and rumors before anyone else! Follow us on Twitter to stay updated: