P.J. Tucker

Southwest Rumors: Noel, Carmelo, Tucker, Pondexter

Mavs big man Nerlens Noel will likely come off the bench this season behind Dirk Nowitzki, coach Rick Carlisle told Tim MacMahon of ESPN and other media members. Noel started 12 of 22 games after being acquired from the 76ers in February. Carlisle informed Noel and agent Rich Paul of his plans over the weekend, MacMahon adds. “At this point in time, Dirk at the 5 position is probably the best scenario for Dirk and for our team, and I just don’t think that Dirk is a guy that’s going to come off the bench as long as I’m here,” Carlisle said. “So there’s a very good chance that Nerlens will come off the bench.” Noel had a tumultuous summer as a restricted free agent, changing agents and ultimately signing Dallas’ qualifying offer of $4.1MM when he didn’t get the contract offers he expected. Noel will an unrestricted free agent next summer.

In other developments around the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets were never close to acquiring Carmelo Anthony before he was traded to the Thunder, according to a Houston Chronicle report. GM Daryl Morey said he wasn’t disappointed that he failed to work out something with the Knicks, the report adds. “We were involved in rumors in a situation he was very interested in coming here,” he said. “We had some interest if we could maybe work it out, but never did.”
  • Small forward P.J. Tucker will miss some of training camp because of a hamstring injury, according to another Chronicle report. Tucker suffered the injury during a recent workout but it’s not considered a major issue, the report adds. Tucker signed a four-year contract with the Rockets as a free agent this summer.
  • Former Pelicans forward Quincy Pondexter contracted a life-threatening infection while awaiting a third surgery on his problematic knee in January, he told Chris Haynes of ESPN. He required surgery to flush out the infection and spent a month in the hospital after the knee operation, Haynes continues. Pondexter was then dealt to the Bulls earlier this month. “It was a shock,” Pondexter told Haynes. “I was tired of letting the organization and fans down the last two years, and I wanted to do my best to help the Pelicans return to the playoffs. It was definitely a gut punch.” He also said he was never fined or missed an appointment during his knee rehab in 2015, refuted what coach Alvin Gentry claimed at the time.
  • Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge shrugged off the trade rumors this summer and came to camp with something to prove, Melissa Rohlin of the San Antonio Express-News reports. “I’m a guy who is never satisfied,” he told Rohlin. “I’m definitely going to show that I can play my game and I’m still good.”

Rockets Notes: Capela, Tax, Anderson, Gupta

While Rockets president of basketball operations Daryl Morey doesn’t want to be making roster decisions with one specific rival in mind, he acknowledges in a Q&A with Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle that it’s impossible not to consider the Warriors at this point when making signings and trades.

“We know we’re going to face them,” Morey said of the Dubs. “We obviously have to get through some extremely tough teams, the Spurs, Oklahoma City, Memphis, you name it. To get there. But if you know you are going to be facing a team if you’re having the season you want, and we want to be all the way to the championship, I think it does make sense to focus on that team.”

Morey pointed to the signings of Luc Mbah a Moute and P.J. Tucker as moves that were made with the Warriors in mind. Both veteran forwards are strong defenders who would probably match up with the likes of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson in a playoff series against Golden State.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Asked by Feigen about the possibility of an extension for Clint Capela, Morey pointed out that contract extensions are getting trickier to pull off around the NBA, since the salary cap isn’t increasingly quite as quickly as initially anticipated, and long-term commitments are starting to add up for many teams across the league.
  • In Houston’s case, new deals for Capela, Chris Paul, and Trevor Ariza next summer would create luxury-tax issues for the club. While Morey didn’t comment specifically about new owner Tilman Fertitta‘s willingness to pay the tax, he told Feigen that Fertitta is “all about winning” and will do what it takes to win. Morey also noted that he has met with the Rockets’ incoming owner a couple times already.
  • Morey tells Feigen that he spoke to Ryan Anderson this week about the Knicks-related trade rumors that have been swirling around Anderson all offseason. “Players get frustrated,” Morey said. “It’s rare for a GM to get frustrated because we have to deal with it all the time, but this one has been frustrating because it’s lingering and not much is accurate out there.”
  • The Rockets announced today that Sachin Gupta has rejoined the team as a special advisor (link via Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston). Gupta was Morey’s first hire back in 2006, but left Houston to become a consultant for the Sixers during Sam Hinkie’s stint in Philadelphia.

Contract Details: Tucker, Holiday, Lowry, Collison

With more and more of the early free agent contract agreements being finalized, official numbers on those deals are starting to trickle in, and Eric Pincus, who operates Basketball Insiders’ salary database, is passing along the specifics on many of them. In instances where the official numbers are essentially identical to what was reported initially, we won’t pass along that info, but we want to provide updates in cases where new details surface.

Here are some new contract details on this week’s deals, with all links via Pincus’ Twitter feed:

Western Conference:

  • The Rockets split their mid-level exception between two players, with P.J. Tucker getting about $7.59MM and Zhou Qi getting the remaining $816K or so. Tucker’s contract is partially guaranteed in its fourth year ($2.6MM of $8MM guaranteed), while Zhou’s four-year pact isn’t guaranteed beyond year one (Twitter links).
  • As was expected based on initial reports, Jrue Holiday‘s total earning potential over five years with the Pelicans ranges from $126-150MM based on bonuses (Twitter link).
  • Dirk Nowitzki‘s two-year pact with the Mavericks will pay him an even $5MM in each of the next two seasons, with a second-year team option (Twitter link).
  • The first season of Wayne Selden‘s two-year minimum salary deal with the Grizzlies is fully guaranteed (Twitter link).
  • The Suns‘ new four-year contract for second-rounder Davon Reed is fully guaranteed for the first year, half guaranteed in the second year, and non-guaranteed in years three and four (Twitter link).

Eastern Conference:

  • Although Kyle Lowry‘s three-year contract with the Raptors can be worth up to $100MM, the base value is $93MM, with the remaining $7MM coming in the form of unlikely bonuses. Unlikely bonuses don’t count against the cap at this point (Twitter link).
  • The second year of Darren Collison‘s contract with the Pacers is only partially guaranteed. Currently, $2MM of his $10MM second-year salary is guaranteed (Twitter link).
  • The Hornets signed Michael Carter-Williams using a portion of their taxpayer mid-level exception. Since he’s receiving an even $2.7MM, the team doesn’t have a hard cap at this point (Twitter link).
  • Eric Moreland‘s three-year deal with the Pistons includes a $500K guarantee for year one. The deal starts at $1.7MM, which means it was finalized using the amount of the mid-level exception that was left over after Langston Galloway‘s signing (Twitter link).

Free Agent Rumors: Tucker, Hayward, Young, Reed

The Raptors will lose P.J. Tucker in free agency, with the veteran forward having agreed to a four-year, $32MM contract with Houston. However, it won’t be for lack of trying. According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN (via Twitter), Toronto offered $33MM over three years for Tucker, whose Rockets deal is partially guaranteed in year four. New Rockets point guard Chris Paul played a major role in recruiting Tucker to Houston though, per Windhorst. The lack of income tax in Texas likely helped sway the 32-year-old as well, though that’s my speculation.

Here are a few more free agent notes from Saturday that we don’t want to let slip through the cracks:

  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald provides some details on the Heat‘s Saturday meeting with Gordon Hayward, which five Miami players attended. Interestingly, free agent forward James Johnson was one of those five players. Meanwhile, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe writes that Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford will attend the Celtics‘ Sunday meeting with Hayward.
  • We can add the Warriors and the Thunder to the list of teams that have conveyed interest in Nick Young, reports Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News. The Pelicans are also said to be eyeing the veteran free agent, who intends to meet with “a bunch of teams.” Medina adds that the Lakers reached out to Young’s reps, but there likely won’t be a fit there.
  • The Pacers, Sixers, and Rockets expressed interest in free agent big man Willie Reed on Saturday, according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link), who notes that the Heat also remain interested in re-signing Reed.
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said his team had a “great call” with Nerlens Noel on Saturday, and that the free agent center is “excited to continue to play with the Mavs,” per Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. However, the Mavs will be patient and allow Noel and his agent to explore the market, knowing they’ll be able to match any offer he gets.
  • It sounds like Knicks GM Steve Mills will continue to run the team’s front office through the free agency period, in the wake of Phil Jackson‘s departure. According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN (Twitter link), David Griffin had an initial phone interview with the franchise this week, but isn’t expected to interview in person for a few weeks, which suggests the process won’t be rushed.

Rockets Sign P.J. Tucker To Four-Year Deal

JULY 6, 10:29am: The Rockets have jumped the gun a little on the end of the July moratorium, issuing a press release announcing Tucker’s signing about a half-hour before the moratorium ends.

JULY 1, 11:52pm: The Rockets are expected to sign Tucker using their mid-level exception, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Assuming the team uses part of its MLE on Zhou (as noted below) and offers the rest to Tucker, the veteran’s contract could be worth up to about $32.6MM.P.J. PJ Tucker vertical

11:36pm: The Rockets have reached a deal with free agent forward P.J. Tucker, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (via Twitter). Tucker had met with the Raptors when free agency opened, and had a sit-down with the Kings scheduled for Sunday, but it appears that meeting will be canceled now that Tucker has committed to Houston on a four-year, $32MM deal, per Charania (Twitter link).

Tucker, who started the 2016/17 season in Phoenix, was traded to the Raptors in a deadline deal and was a key piece for a Toronto team that was eliminated in the Eastern Conference semifinals. For the season, Tucker averaged a modest 6.7 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 1.4 SPG in 81 games (27.6 MPG), providing value with his tough defense and his ability to make the occasional three-pointer (.357 3PT%).

The Rockets had been on the lookout for a defensive-minded wing who could complement the team’s backcourt of James Harden and newly-acquired Chris Paul. Houston reportedly made an offer to Andre Iguodala today, but Iguodala elected to remain in Golden State. The Rockets were also said to be in serious talks with the Cavaliers for Iman Shumpert, though it’s possible their deal with Tucker could make the Rockets pump the brakes on those Shumpert discussions.

[RELATED: Clippers trade Chris Paul to Rockets]

Based on the reported terms of the Tucker deal, the Rockets may be committing the rest of their mid-level exception to the 32-year-old after agreeing to sign Zhou Qi using part of it. However, there are multiple ways Houston could complete the deal. A sign-and-trade is another possibility, if the Rockets don’t need to use their non-guaranteed contracts in a Shumpert trade with Cleveland. A Tucker sign-and-trade could – in theory – create a trade exception for Toronto and would allow the Rockets to retain most of their MLE.

A report earlier today suggested that the Raptors weren’t overly confident about their chances of retaining Tucker, but remained optimistic about bringing back Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

P.J. Tucker Meeting With Raptors, Kings

10:30pm: The Kings’ meeting with Tucker is now scheduled to take place in Philadelphia on Sunday, sources tell Chris Haynes of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

JULY 1, 10:09am: Tucker’s meeting with the Kings will take place today, tweets Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee.

JUNE 30, 10:14pm: Veteran forward P.J. Tucker will meet with members of the Raptors’ front office after 12:00 EST tonight, Chris Haynes of ESPN tweets. Tucker was acquired by Toronto at the trade deadline last February.

Tucker made $5.3MM in 2016/17 and was a sought-after veteran target mid-season because of his toughness and perimeter defense.

At some point over the weekend, Tucker will also meet with the Kings, Haynes adds in a second tweet.

In addition to the Raps and Kings, the Timberwolves, Nuggets, Sixers and Clippers are said to have an interest in the free agent.

In 24 post-deadline games for the Raptors last year, Tucker averaged 5.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per contest.

Raptors Remain Confident About Retaining Lowry, Ibaka

The Raptors remain confident about their chances of bringing back top free agents Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet (via Twitter).

Lowry and Ibaka share an agent in ASM’s Andy Miller, and Miller met with the Raptors “late into the night” on Saturday morning after the free agent period opened, according to David Aldridge of TNT (Twitter link). While neither Lowry or Ibaka agreed to a deal following those meetings, the two sides remain in contact.

If the Raptors do lock up both Lowry and Ibaka to market-value deals, the team figures to go into luxury-tax territory for the first time. That could potentially be avoided by moving another player on a sizable contract – such as DeMarre Carroll or Jonas Valanciunas – but Toronto will likely wait on decisions from Lowry and Ibaka before considering how to address the rest of its roster.

The odds of the Raptors re-signing P.J. Tucker may not be quite as high, as the club is facing “competition” on the veteran forward, according to Grange. The Kings are said to be meeting with Tucker today, while the Timberwolves, Nuggets, Sixers, and Clippers have also been linked to him.

Free Agent Rumors: Warriors, Noel, Hill, Tucker

With free agency less than nine hours away, there’s no meeting scheduled between the Warriors and Andre Iguodala, tweets ESPN’s Zach Lowe. However, as Lowe points out, that could change any minute and the two sides are still optimistic about Iguodala’s return.

Meanwhile, Dewayne Dedmon is on the Warriors’ radar once again this summer, according to Sam Amico of USA Today (Twitter link), who reports the Dedmon/Golden State connection is worth watching particularly if Iguodala leaves. Dedmon would be a candidate to receive some or all of Golden State’s mid-level exception, though it’s not clear yet which MLE the Warriors will have. The club could end up with the full MLE ($8.4MM), the taxpayer mid-level ($5.2MM), or the room exception ($4.3MM).

Let’s round up more notes and rumors on free agency from around the league…

  • The general sense around the NBA this year heading into free agency is that teams won’t be as aggressive and free-spending out of the gate as they were a year ago, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. As Shelburne observes (via Twitter), that’s creating some frustration for agents, since this year’s free agents want to be paid like last year’s were.
  • Nerlens Noel is receiving interest from several teams and won’t limit his discussions to the Mavericks, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com, who hears from a source that Dallas is willing to pay “market value” for Noel (Twitter link). The big man is a restricted free agent, giving the Mavs the right of first refusal.
  • George Hill‘s preference is to remain with the Jazz, but the Spurs would be his second choice and the Timberwolves are “lurking,” says Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link).
  • The Raptors, Timberwolves, Nuggets, Kings, Sixers, and Clippers are among the teams expected to have interest in P.J. Tucker, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Toronto is schedule to meet with Tucker on Saturday, per Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).
  • There’s still some mutual interest between the Kings and veteran point guard Ty Lawson, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee (via Twitter). If Lawson returns to Sacramento, his role may look a little different, with De’Aaron Fox now in the picture and Darren Collison potentially signing elsewhere.

Western FA Rumors: Hayward, Gallinari, Clippers

Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey remains confident about his team’s chances to re-sign Gordon Hayward, George Hill, and Joe Ingles, writes Jody Genessy of The Deseret News. The team’s ability to bring back Hill and/or Ingles may be key to retaining Hayward.

Genessy reiterates (via Twitter) that Hayward really wants the Jazz to re-sign Hill, adding that his decision could hinge on that, while Sam Amick of USA Today notes (via Twitter) that Hayward and Ingles share an agent. Utah has been seeking a trade for a cheaper point guard to replace Hill, but may be hesitant to make such a move if it would make Hayward more likely to leave.

Here’s more on free agency from around the Western Conference, including another Hayward-related note:

  • Having previously said that he wouldn’t prioritize the Nuggets over any other suitor in free agency, Danilo Gallinari tells Italian outlet La Gazzetta dello Sport that his goal is to remain with Denver, and will have one of his first meetings with the Nuggets. Emiliano Carchia of Sportando provides the English translation on the quotes from Gallinari, who also acknowledged that he won’t receive a maximum salary contract.
  • The Clippers want to hang onto Blake Griffin in free agency, but it’s not clear whether the team is prepared to put a five-year, maximum salary offer on the table for him, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com.
  • Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link) identifies Jonathon Simmons, Rudy Gay, Danilo Gallinari, P.J. Tucker, James Johnson, Joe Ingles, and Andre Iguodala as additional free agents of interest for the Clippers.
  • The Gordon Hayward sweepstakes are creating a battle amidst the Ainge family, as Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com details. Tanner Ainge, the son of Celtics president Danny Ainge, is running for Congress in Utah and has pushed for Hayward to remain with the Jazz.

Knicks Rumors: Ujiri, Griffin, Carmelo, Mills, KP

Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri was immediately identified as the Knicks’ top target to replace Phil Jackson when the Knicks parted ways with Jackson earlier this week, but it appears Ujiri won’t be going anywhere. As Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com writes, the Knicks are no longer expected to ask for the Raptors’ permission to speak to Ujiri.

According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, one league source said that the Raptors would have asked for multiple draft picks, including a first-rounder, as compensation if the Knicks wanted to hire Ujiri. As such, the team appears to have shifted its focus to David Griffin and other candidates. Shelburne cites sources who say that Griffin has spoken to the Knicks, and is expected to have more discussions when New York moves to the next level of its search process. The club is currently assembling a list of candidates for the job.

Here’s more out of New York:

  • An NBA source tells Berman that the Knicks are unlikely to do anything with Carmelo Anthony until a new president of basketball operations is hired.
  • Current GM Steve Mills is expected to remain with the team no matter who is hired as president, according to Berman.
  • In a separate piece for The New York Post, Berman breaks down the free agency landscape for the Knicks, noting that the team may have more options with Jackson out of the picture.
  • According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link), Isiah Thomas isn’t considered a candidate for the Knicks’ job, but still has owner James Dolan‘s ear as an advisor. Kyler adds (via Twitter) that Ujiri and Thunder president Sam Presti were considered “pie-in-the-sky” candidates.
  • While the pre-draft Kristaps Porzingis rumors were viewed by some observers as Jackson sending a “message” to the young big man, several members of the organization besides Jackson were in favor of a trade, sources tell Ian Begley of ESPN.com. Still, the possibility of a Porzingis trade will likely die if the team can get back on the same page with him.
  • The Knicks have strong interest in bringing back Justin Holiday, and some members of the organization consider George Hill a free agent of interest, according to Begley. Both Begley and Berman also identify P.J. Tucker as a probably free agent target for the club.
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