Patrick Beverley

L.A. Notes: Beverley, W. Johnson, Kuzma, Free Agency

Patrick Beverley is expected to return to the Clippers’ lineup Monday after missing five games with soreness in his right knee, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The injury-riddled team needs to get healthy soon, as it has dropped eight straight games and fallen to 5-10 after a 4-0 start. L.A. has been without its opening-night starting backcourt of Beverley and Milos Teodosic, who remains out indefinitely with a left plantar fascia injury.

Beverley was part of the package the Clippers received from Houston in this summer’s trade for Chris Paul. He was off to a strong start, averaging 12.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists through 10 games, along with elite-level defense.

There’s more this morning from Los Angeles:

  • With Beverley, Teodosic and Danilo Gallinari all sidelined by injuries, the Clippers want more offensive production from Wesley Johnson, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Johnson, who has a player option for next season worth more than $6.1MM, is taking more than twice as many shots as last season at 5.5 per game, but is careful about not forcing things. “I just see how the game feels out and then just go like that,” he said. “But I think they want me to just go out there and just have an imprint on the game. Just go out there and junk it up, do whatever.”
  • After being ignored for most of his basketball life, Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma has become one of the most celebrated rookies in the NBA, notes Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Kuzma wasn’t invited to New York for the draft and he was a little-noticed part of the draft night trade that sent D’Angelo Russell to Brooklyn. “I felt like I had to sell myself everywhere,” Kuzma said of the pre-draft process. “Coming out of college, they kind of pegged me as a second-round to undrafted kind of guy. I didn’t really have that many options. Everybody was telling me to go back to school. Literally, everybody did. But I knew I was a lot better than everyone projected me to be. So going through the draft process I was on a mission, super focused. I had to come in every interview, every workout, and pretty much smash it.”
  • Despite months of rumors and a plan to create enough cap room for two max offers, the Lakers shouldn’t be overly confident that LeBron James and Paul George will join them next summer, writes Mark Heisler of The Orange County Register.

Pacific Notes: Deng, Beverley, Randolph

Luol Deng‘s four-year, $72MM contract that he signed in 2016 has become one of the NBA’s biggest albatross contracts. The Lakers signed the 32-year-old to essentially become a more expensive version of what Metta World Peace was to last year’s team.

Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times writes that Deng, who spent parts of his first 10 seasons with the Bulls, no longer wants to play for the Lakers. He has played in just one game this season, recording 2 points and 1 assist in 13 minutes of action. As he awaits a resolution on his future, Deng told Ganguli he does not regret his contract.

“I just know that for me, I never really [took] the contract and said I just want to shut it down, I just don’t want to do anything,” Deng said. “I’m still working as hard as I can trying to figure it out and trying to be the best player I can be. It was never, let me go and relax and not do anything. That was never the case. So I don’t regret it at all.”

The Lakers are heavily invested in a youth movement, highlighted by their first-round picks from the past seasons in Brandon Ingram and Lonzo BallDeng could help the team as a mentor to the upstarts but minutes will be hard to come by unless he is traded.

Check out other news from the Pacific Division:

  • A sore right knee has sidelined Clippers’ point guard Patrick Beverley, head coach Doc Rivers told reporters, including Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. Despite initial concern, Rivers said the team expects their catalyst to miss about one week.  “It’s the same thing that kept him out of the second half of camp,” Rivers said. “But he’ll be fine, that’s the good news. We were worried that it could be worse and it’s not. But he’s still probably going to miss a week of games. So, it’s just another guy out.”
  • Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee writes that Zach Randolph, who endured a tough offseason that included an arrest for marijuana possession, is slowly getting back into shape. The Kings’ hoped the veteran would bring his toughness and grit to a young team and he spoke highly of the team’s core and what he can teach them.

Pacific Notes: Beverley, Bogdanovic, Cauley-Stein, Lakers

Patrick Beverley has earned the reputation of a defensive pest who can get under the skin of his opponents and the Clippers are glad he is on their side, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes.

Beverley has the unenviable task of being one of many reinforcements for a departed Chris PaulDespite the lofty expectations, Beverley’s defense and overall demeanor through his first few preseason contests have made him popular with teammates but not changed his approach.

“I try to set the tone defensively,” Beverley said. “That helps the rest of our team. I understand I have DJ [DeAndre Jordan], but I don’t want to rely on him too much. At the same time, I want to be able to still do my thing within the defense.”

Last season, Beverley averaged 9.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 4.2 APG, and 1.5 SPG for the Rockets last season. If he replicates the on-court performance and retains his outspoken style, the Clippers should be set at the position, according to his coaches and teammates.

Below you can find other news coming out of the Pacific Division:

  • Willie Cauley-Stein is entering his third NBA season at a time when third-year players are expected to develop into mainstays. However, a tumultuous period in Sacramento with roster, coaching, and front office turnover will make it a possibly difficult adjustment for Cauley-Stein, Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee writes.
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic has spent limited time in the United States but he cannot contain the excitement for his NBA opportunity with the Kings, Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee details.
  • The Lakers have hired Jason Rosenfeld as Director of Basketball Analytics, according to the team. As ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link) noted, the Lakers’ signing of Rosenfeld is crucial as the team has been criticized for its lack of analytics use.

Pacific Notes: Beverley, Len, Thompson

After years counterbalancing James Harden‘s offensive presence in Houston, Patrick Beverley will step into a larger role as Chris Paul‘s replacement with the Clippers, James Blancarte of Basketball Insiders writes.

Not only has the veteran guard embraced the trade to the Clippers, he asked for the change of scenery. Now the 29-year-old will get a chance to showcase what he’s capable of above and beyond his reputation as a tenacious perimeter defender.

While Beverley will have big shoes to fill even on the defensive side of the ball – Paul was the only player that ranked higher than him in defensive real plus minus – he brings leadership qualities that should help the Clippers franchise in the midst of a critical transition.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

Patrick Beverley Confirms He Asked Rockets For Trade

Appearing on Adrian Wojnarowski’s ESPN podcast this week, Patrick Beverley confirmed that he asked the Rockets to explore the trade market to find him another opportunity this offseason (link via ESPN.com). Houston ultimately obliged, sending him to the Clippers in part of the package for Chris Paul.

“It comes kind of surprising to people that ask, ‘Why did they trade you?’ I asked for it,” Beverley said. “I asked for a bigger opportunity, a bigger chance to display my skills on a high level and I was fortunate that the Rockets did really good with me and [put] me in a situation where I can thrive and be successful. They could have really dumped me anywhere, but they did right, and I respect them a lot for it.”

Beverley is on one of the NBA’s most team-friendly veteran contracts, and is in line to earn about $10.5MM over the next two years with the Clippers. That affordable salary was one reason it was a little surprising when word broke in June that the Rockets were looking to move him. However, even that initial report from Sean Deveney of The Sporting News indicated that the veteran point guard would welcome a deal.

As I noted at the time, Beverley saw his role in Houston change a little last season as James Harden assumed the point guard reins. Although he reportedly enjoyed playing for Mike D’Antoni, Beverley’s 14.1% usage rate was a career low.

Beverley, 29, averaged 9.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 4.2 APG, and 1.5 SPG along with solid three-point shooting (.382 3PT%) for the Rockets in 2016/17. His defensive ability also allowed Houston to have him guard the most dangerous backcourt threat on opposing teams, taking some pressure off Harden.

With Paul no longer running the show in L.A., there should be room for Beverley to take on a larger role with his new team, though the Clippers have no shortage of options at the point. Milos Teodosic figures to see plenty of action, and players like Austin Rivers and Lou Williams may also get a chance to handle the ball. Still, the Clippers don’t have a ball-dominant star like Harden standing in Beverley’s way in the backcourt.

Pacific Notes: Ingram, Beverley, KCP

The Lakers have been active and persistent this offseason, from drafting UCLA product Lonzo Ball, to shipping out former first round pick D’Angelo Russell to the Nets, to signing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a one-year deal. While trade talks persist, the team is adamantly against trading last year’s second overall pick Brandon Ingram, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News writes.

Ingram, soon-to-be 20 years old, did not post eye-popping numbers in his rookie season, averaging 9.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG and shot 40.2 % from the floor. However, his work ethic and potential is the reason why Lakers brass has been abruptly ending phone calls once opposing teams inquire about his availability. Team president Magic Johnson‘s endorsement is a glowing one for the Duke product.

“The guy only cares about winning and basketball,” Johnson said. “He’s quiet and doesn’t do anything else. He is a very intelligent young man and is our hardest worker.”

As the Lakers continue their drift toward youth, Ingram figures to crack the starting lineup next season. Alongside the hotshot prospect Ball, veteran acquisition Lopez, and other youngsters, Ingram’s development remains a crucial point and goal for the Lakers.

Below are additional notes surrounding the Lakers and the Pacific division:

  • The Lakers‘ signing of KCP is a risk for both sides but one that could pay dividends, Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times writes. Caldwell-Pope signed a one-year, $18MM deal with Los Angeles and was introduced earlier this week. The Lakers’ hope is that the 24-year-old, who is technically considered a veteran as he enters his fifth NBA season, will be a leader for a young team.
  • Conversely, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press ponders whether KCP’s decision to reject a four-year, $80MM offer from the Pistons last season was a wise move. While KCP will do fine financially this season, injuries, poor performance, and a change in the market could harm his value after 2017/18. Caldwell-Pope’s hope will be to have a strong season and hit the market at 25 years old looking for security.
  • Mark Medina adds in a separate piece that the Lakers are looking to fill out their roster in the next few weeks.
  • One of the Clippers‘ many acquisitions in the Chris Paul sign-and-trade was defensive standout Patrick Beverley. USA Today highlighted Beverly and his desire to not be compared with Paul and rather let his game speak for itself. Many Clippers officials are also quoted in stating their longtime appreciation of Beverley’s talents.

Knicks Rumors: Front Office, Rondo, Anthony

With the Knicks unwilling to grant David Griffin final say on basketball decision, it appears very likely that GM Steve Mills will retain some – and possibly full – autonomy on the club’s basketball decisions going forward, writes ESPN’s Ian Begley. Mills is set to run the team at least through this year’s free agent period, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s named the full-time president after that, per Begley.

Marc Berman of The New York Post reiterates that sentiment, noting that no formal negotiations have taken place yet between Mills and the Knicks, but the current GM appears to be on track to becoming the club’s permanent president. As Berman explains, New York figures may continue to conduct interviews, but the club would be on the lookout for a general manager to work under Mills, rather than someone to take over basketball operations.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Following up on the Griffin story, Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News reports that one of the requests made by the former Cavs GM was to remove assistant GM Allan Houston from the front office. The Knicks’ unwillingness to part with Houston or to let Griffin bring in his own staff was one reason why the potential partnership didn’t pan out.
  • Currently, Mills is focusing on potentially trading Carmelo Anthony, finding a veteran point guard, and figuring out how to smooth things over with Kristaps Porzingis, according to Begley.
  • On the point guard front, the club has remained in touch with Rajon Rondo, and there’s mutual interest there, says Begley. However, the Knicks are out of cap room for the moment, so it’s not clear if Rondo would be willing to settle for the $4.3MM room exception, or if the team is looking to create cap space in order to make a more substantial offer.
  • A trade for a veteran point guard is a possibility too, according to Begley, who says New York had “strong” interest in Patrick Beverley before Houston traded him to the Clippers. Begley also mentions Brandon Knight or Eric Bledsoe as possible trade candidates, though there’s no indication the Knicks have talked to Phoenix about those vets.
  • No Carmelo deal is imminent, but the Knicks and Anthony “feel good” about getting something done at some point, sources tell Begley. For his part, newly-signed Knick Tim Hardaway said he’d “definitely” like to see Anthony return to the team next season (link via Begley).

Trade Rumors: Celtics, George, Parker, Beverley

Although the Celtics are reportedly still hoping to pull off a trade for Paul George after the new league year begins, Boston considers the Pacers‘ current demand for George unrealistic, per Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald (Twitter links). Murphy notes that the C’s are currently waiting to hear back from Indiana president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard.

According to Murphy, the Pacers’ most recent demand in talks with the Celtics included the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick and the Lakers’ protected 2018 pick, plus at least one starting player. As we noted earlier today, Boston is willing to put multiple picks and players in an offer for George, but wants to retain its most valuable draft assets, such as those two aforementioned picks.

Let’s round up a few more trade-related notes and rumors from around the NBA…

  • Jabari Parker‘s latest ACL injury has complicated the Bucks‘ ability to potentially improve their roster this offseason, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, who says that Milwaukee had been considering including Parker in trades at the deadline in February. “His name definitely came up, and it was obvious they’d have a steep price, but they were willing to talk about him,” one league executive tells Deveney.
  • The Cavaliers have been eyeing Patrick Beverley for “quite some time,” but a source familiar with the team’s thinking tells Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com that the veteran point guard probably isn’t going anywhere now that he’s a member of the Clippers. According to McMenamin, L.A. likes Beverley and might not be willing to deal him after landing him in Wednesday’s Chris Paul blockbuster, even if Cleveland could offer a solid package.
  • One challenge the Timberwolves‘ front office faces if it wants to move Ricky Rubio comes in the form of owner Glen Taylor, per Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Wolfson tweets that every Wolves trade goes through Taylor, who “loves” Rubio.
  • Executives around the NBA have questions about the way the Paul deal between the Rockets and Clippers went down, though an Eastern Conference exec says that no one’s going to “rat anybody out” when it comes to tampering. Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times has the details and the quotes.

Clippers Trade Chris Paul To Rockets

Reversing his decision to head to the free agent market, Chris Paul has opted into the final year of his contract as part of a trade. The Clippers have sent Paul to the Rockets in exchange for a massive trade package, Houston confirmed today in a press release. The Clippers will receive the following pieces in the deal:Chris Paul vertical

“Since winning back-to-back championships, the pursuit of a third title has remained the ultimate goal for our franchise,” Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said in a statement. “We feel that combining two of the league’s greatest players in James Harden and Chris Paul, operating in Coach [Mike] D’Antoni’s system, gives us a championship caliber team that will compete at the highest level for years to come.”

The move is a bombshell, particularly since Paul had been expected to reach free agency this weekend — a report last week indicated that he had made the decision to opt out of his contract. However, CP3 had yet to formally file the paperwork to exercise that early termination option. Instead, he’ll waive the ETO, which will allow him to play out the final year of his deal and become eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2018, unless he signs an extension with Houston before next July. Paul is currently set to earn $24,268,959 in 2017/18.

According to Wojnarowski, the Clippers and Rockets reached an agreement after Paul informed L.A. that he intended to sign with Houston in free agency. From the Clippers’ perspective, the trade with Houston is a way to recoup some value for the star point guard and avoid losing him for nothing. Meanwhile, the Rockets will no longer have to worry about trying to dump a salary or two in order to create enough room for a maximum salary slot for Paul.

The Rockets, who were reported on Tuesday to be a “serious” threat in the Paul sweepstakes, have now secured their man before the free agent period even gets underway. The club’s star-studded backcourt will create an intriguing dynamic, since Harden is coming off an MVP-caliber season in which he served as Houston’s primary ball-handler. According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Paul and Harden were “determined” to play together, so the duo is presumably unconcerned about how the ball-handling duties will be shared going forward.

It will be interesting to see if Rockets president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has anything else up his sleeve for the team in July. According to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, the club is still on the lookout for a third star to complement Paul and Harden. Houston was reportedly involved in Paul George trade talks, though the club surrendered some valuable assets in today’s move, so it’s not clear whether Morey still has enough pieces to interest the Pacers.

With Paul now headed to Houston, the Spurs – who were rumored to be a contender for Paul – will have to look elsewhere if they intend to sign a marquee free agent point guard. Teams around the NBA hoping to re-sign their own star point guards, such as the Pelicans (Jrue Holiday) and Raptors (Kyle Lowry), may also be breathing a little easier, since the Rockets were viewed as a team capable of shaking up the point guard market.

As for the Clippers, it’s not clear yet if today’s deal will be the first domino to fall in a full-fledged rebuilding process for the club, or merely a retooling of the roster. In Beverley and Williams, the Clips will acquire a pair of effective and affordable veteran guards who figure to step into key roles right away. Dekker is more of a wild card, but the 23-year-old big man flashed some upside in a rotational role for the Rockets last season, as did Harrell.

Paul’s departure also figures to be a factor in Blake Griffin‘s impending free agency. Unlike Paul, Griffin has formally exercised his ETO with the Clippers, so he’s on track to become an unrestricted free agent on Saturday. Given the reported tension between Paul and Griffin over the years, it’s possible that the trade of CP3 makes Griffin more likely to re-sign — Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net (Twitter link) spoke to several league executives who speculated as much.

[RELATED: Clippers confident about re-signing Blake Griffin]

Because the combined salaries of Beverley, Dekker, and Williams – the package reported initially for the Clippers – weren’t enough for the Rockets to land Paul, Houston spent most of the day acquiring players with non-guaranteed salaries from other teams to include in the deal. Liggins and Hilliard will be flipped to the Clippers, but Tim Quarterman, Shawn Long, and Ryan Kelly, who were all traded to Houston earlier today, won’t be part of this transactions — Houston instead included Harrell and Wiltjer.

I explained the math from the Rockets’ perspective earlier today. By structuring the deal as they did, the Rockets will remain over the cap and will have the mid-level exception ($8.4MM) and bi-annual exception ($3.3MM) available to pursue free agents when the new league year begins.

The Clippers waived retiring forward Paul Pierce in order to adhere to the NBA’s offseason roster limit of 20 players.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter links) broke news of the trade. Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle and Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times were among those who reported key details along the way.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rockets A Serious Threat For Chris Paul?

The Rockets have emerged as an “increasingly serious” threat in the Chris Paul sweepstakes, league sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Stein is the second ESPN reporter this week to make such a claim — Chris Haynes said on Monday that he has heard Houston has a “serious chance” to land Paul.

According to Stein, MVP finalist James Harden has been advocating for the Rockets to go after Paul, having made his interest in playing alongside the veteran point guard clear to both the team and to CP3 himself.

As Stein notes, the Rockets would have to make some cost-cutting moves in order to clear the cap space necessary to make a real run at Paul. Ryan Anderson, Patrick Beverley, and Lou Williams are among the players believed to be on the trade block, with ESPN’s report suggesting that Houston is focused on finding a taker for Anderson’s salary, which will be worth nearly $20MM in 2017/18.

Despite the classification of the Rockets as a “serious” suitor for Paul, I’m skeptical of the fit. Houston excelled this past season playing a fast-paced style with Harden running the point. Paul has generally played at a much slower pace, and incorporating him into the offense would mean taking the ball out of Harden’s hands. Additionally, I think the Rockets would probably have to attach at least one valuable asset – such as a future first-round pick – to Anderson’s contract in order to gain any traction in trade talks.

Still, according to Stein, the Clippers continue to worry that Paul could bolt in free agency, and view Houston and San Antonio as legitimate threats. We heard earlier today that CP3’s camp sat down with the Clippers on Tuesday to discuss the point guard’s future. The two sides plan to meet again a few days from now.

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