P.J. Washington

Hornets Rumors: D’Antoni, Atkinson, Bridges, Trade Candidates

Mike D’Antoni is scheduled to meet with Hornets owner Michael Jordan on Tuesday to discuss the team’s head coaching position, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson had agreed earlier this month to become Charlotte’s new head coach, but backed out of his agreement with the team over the weekend.

D’Antoni, who was also a finalist before the Hornets chose Atkinson, had reportedly been scheduled to meet with Jordan a couple weeks ago, but it’s unclear if that sit-down ever took place — Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report wrote today that Atkinson was the only candidate to meet with the Hornets’ owner.

Besides D’Antoni, Terry Stotts was the other candidate believed to be a finalist for the Hornets before they reached a deal with Atkinson. It’s unclear if the team has any plans to meet with Stotts again now that its head coaching search is back on.

Here’s more on the Hornets:

  • The Hornets want to retain “a large portion” of James Borrego‘s coaching staff, since many of them have one guaranteed year remaining on their current contracts, according to Fischer. Atkinson had wanted to bring in some of his own assistants, but he and the Hornets weren’t able to come to financial agreements for them, sources tell Fischer, who notes that Charlotte’s assistant coaches are known to be among the NBA’s bottom five in terms of salary.
  • Fischer adds that Atkinson’s decision not to join the Hornets doesn’t appear to have anything to do with a succession plan in Golden State, since there’s no indication Warriors head coach Steve Kerr plans to go anywhere anytime soon.
  • The Pistons and Pacers are believed to have interest in pursuing restricted free agents this summer and have been the only teams mentioned as potential threats to pursue Hornets RFA Miles Bridges, reports Fischer. Shams Charania of The Athletic wrote on Monday that Charlotte may be reluctant to match a maximum-salary offer for Bridges.
  • The Hornets are expected to gauge the trade market for Terry Rozier, P.J. Washington, Kelly Oubre, and Mason Plumlee “in advance of Bridges’ free agency,” writes Fischer. The fact that Fischer links those potential trade talks to Bridges’ contract situation suggests that Charlotte may be trying to save some money that could be put toward Bridges’ new contract.

Lakers Not Interested In Using First-Round Pick To Trade Westbrook

Teams that have spoken to the Lakers about Russell Westbrook have been demanding at least one first-round pick in any potential trade, league sources tell Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

However, the Lakers haven’t been receptive to that idea and have no intention – at least for the time being – of using one of their future first-rounders to facilitate a Westbrook deal, Buha reports.

Westbrook is expected to pick up his $47.4MM player option for the 2022/23 season and will be one of the league’s most expensive players following a disappointing first year in Los Angeles. Although he’ll be on an expiring contract, Westbrook will be a negative trade asset, with teams only willing to take him on if the Lakers sweeten the pot.

Having already traded away a pair of future first-round picks, the Lakers can currently only trade either their 2027 or 2028 selection. After next month’s draft, they’d be able to include their 2027, 2028, and 2029 first-rounders in trade discussions — if they move the ’27 or ’29 first-rounder, they wouldn’t be able to trade the ’28 pick due to the Stepien rule.

But the front office appears averse to attaching any of those picks to Westbrook, and Buha suggests it’s not just a negotiating stance to regain leverage. League sources tell The Athletic that people within the franchise genuinely believe that the right head coach and supporting cast can help Westbrook fit in better going forward.

Buha personally believes that bringing back Westbrook would be a mistake, arguing that the Lakers should be willing to include a first-rounder if necessary to make a deal or even to take the approach the Rockets did with John Wall, leaving the point guard at home to start the season. Waiving and stretching Westbrook’s contract or attempting to negotiate a buyout are other possible paths for L.A., but Buha views those as unlikely.

While the Lakers may not be interested in giving up a first-round pick just to dump Westbrook’s salary, it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t be more open to the idea if they’re getting a couple legitimate rotation players in return.

Buha identifies the Pacers and Hornets as potential trade partners that may appeal to the Lakers, listing Malcolm Brogdon, Myles Turner, Buddy Hield, Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, P.J. Washington, Kelly Oubre, and Mason Plumlee as possible veterans of interest. I’m skeptical that a couple of those players would be legitimately attainable in a Westbrook deal, even with a first-round pick attached, but if the Lakers were willing to put two first-rounders on the table, more options would open up.

Hornets Notes: Hayward, Bridges, Coaching Search, Harrell, Washington

Hornets forward Gordon Hayward is a name to watch in the trade market, though injuries limit his value, according to HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto, who conducted a podcast with Charlotte Observer beat reporter Rod Boone.

Hayward is regarded as a “neutral asset” that the Hornets can move. However, it’s unlikely they’ll benefit much in terms of cap space if they deal the veteran, who has two years and $61.5MM remaining on his contract. One executive told Scotto they might be able to move him for two players making around $10-15MM apiece.

The Pacers are an unlikely destination after trading away Domantas Sabonis and building around younger pieces.

More highlights from the podcast:

  • Both Scotto and Boone anticipate Miles Bridges will get $25MM or more annually in restricted free agency. Scotto sees Bridges as being coveted due to his status as a young, two-way, big wing. The Trail Blazers could pursue him if they can’t trade for Jerami Grant and teams with cap space, like the Pistons, could also be a factor. Boone believes he’ll return to the Hornets due to unfinished business with an improving team. The fact that he’s close with LaMelo Ball also works in Charlotte’s favor.
  • Neither Scotto nor Boone believe Mike D’Antoni is a viable option in the search for a head coach. Former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, Bucks assistant Darvin Ham and Mavericks assistant Sean Sweeney are names to watch there. However, D’Antoni could wind up in Philadelphia if the Sixers let Doc Rivers go, according to Scotto.
  • Free agent Montrezl Harrell generally enjoyed playing with Charlotte this season and could return to the Hornets, depending upon the coaching hire. Harrell probably wouldn’t command more than the taxpayer mid-level on the open market, according to Scotto.
  • P.J. Washington, who is extension-eligible, is a movable piece and his name will pop up in trade rumors.

Hornets Notes: Play-In Loss, Bridges, Washington, Borrego

The Hornets were exposed by the Hawks in Wednesday’s play-in game that ended their season, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer.

As Boone outlines, the Hornets’ Achilles heel all year long was their defense and it was the weak link again on Wednesday in a 132-103 loss. Penetration into the paint was an ongoing issue, according to Boone, who suggests the Hornets lack any sort of intimidating interior presence and could badly use an athletic, shot-blocking center.

As Zach Kram of The Ringer observes, it was the second consecutive year in which the Hornets allowed more than 128 points per 100 possessions in an elimination play-in game, so addressing the defense has to be the team’s top priority this offseason. Besides acquiring a defensive-minded center, Charlotte could also benefit from adding a reliable wing who can capably guard opposing teams’ most dangerous perimeter players, Kram notes.

Here’s more on the Hornets as they prepare for their offseason:

  • Ejected in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s loss, Miles Bridges threw his mouthpiece at a fan who was taunting him on his way to the locker room, but missed and hit another fan, a 16-year-old girl (video link). Bridges, who figures to face at least a fine from the NBA, apologized after the game for the incident, per Scott Fowler and Matthew Stephens of The Charlotte Observer. “I was upset about a call, a couple of calls really. I let my temper get the best of me. That was definitely the wrong thing to do,” Bridges said. ” … I was aiming for the guy that was screaming at me and it hit a little girl … I take full responsibility and will take any consequences the NBA gives me. … Hopefully, I can get in contact with the young lady, sincerely apologize and do something nice for her.”
  • Viewed as a potential trade candidate in February, P.J. Washington entered the Hornets’ starting lineup after the deadline and played a key role in the club’s success down the stretch, Boone writes for The Charlotte Observer. Washington will be eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason, so Charlotte will have to decide soon how he fits into the organization’s long-term plans.
  • In his preview of the Hornets’ offseason, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) explores how the team should approach the summer, taking an in-depth look at Bridges’ restricted free agency and Washington’s case for an extension. Besides needing a starting center, the Hornets could also use a backup point guard and need James Bouknight to develop into a rotation player, Marks writes.
  • After extending him last offseason, the Hornets seem likely to retain head coach James Borrego for 2022/23, but after the way the season ended, his seat should be considered warm – if not hot – going forward, Fowler writes in a column for The Charlotte Observer.
  • In case you missed it, we passed along a series of Hornets-related rumors on Wednesday.

Heat Rumors: Herro, Robinson, Oladipo, Martin, Offseason

Heat guard Tyler Herro is the frontrunner to win the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award in 2022, having averaged 20.7 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 3.9 APG in 32.7 MPG this season while coming off the bench in 44 of his 54 appearances. Herro is having his breakout year at the right time — he’ll be eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason.

According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, some rival executives and agents believe Herro’s next deal could approach the maximum salary. Others believe it’ll be a step below that and have used Jaylen Brown‘s four-year extension with Boston – which had a base value of $103MM, plus $12MM in incentives – as a point of comparison. Recent four-year, $85MM contracts for the likes of Fred VanVleet and Lonzo Ball have also set a potential baseline for Herro, Fischer observes.

There are still people around the NBA who believe Herro could be the “odd man out” if the Heat try to land another star, Fischer writes. “We all know Miami goes big-fish hunting,” one general manager told Bleacher Report. Still, until an obvious big-name target emerges, it seems likely that Herro’s future will be in Miami, where he’s highly valued.

Here’s more on the Heat from Fischer:

  • Assuming Miami is unable to add a star player this offseason, the team’s biggest summer move could involve sharpshooter Duncan Robinson. Fischer says league personnel view Robinson as the Heat’s most logical trade chip, and sources tell Bleacher Report that the club gauged his value prior to February’s trade deadline, though no discussions ever got serious. The Heat would love to add another impact player in the frontcourt and have shown interest in Rockets big man Christian Wood and Hornets forward P.J. Washington, among others, Fischer adds.
  • Victor Oladipo and Caleb Martin, both of whom will be free agents after the season, have strong interest in remaining with the Heat, sources tell Fischer.
  • People around the NBA believe last month’s KZ Okpala trade that freed up Miami’s 2023 first-round pick to be dealt could be a precursor to a potential offseason move, says Fischer. “They are the best in the league at lining up for a big move,” a Western Conference executive said. Another source suggested to Fischer that Miami always has “plans for every actuality,” so the team isn’t necessarily zeroed in one specific target.

Spurs, Hornets Discussing Jakob Poeltl, P.J. Washington

The Spurs and Hornets have discussed a possible trade that would send center Jakob Poeltl to Charlotte, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

League sources tell Scotto that the proposed deal would see San Antonio acquire Hornets forward P.J. Washington, rookie big man Kai Jones, and a first-round pick. However, the two sides are haggling over the possible inclusion of that draft pick, says Scotto.

Charlotte has long been in the market for a center and is one of the many teams that have been linked to Poeltl. Toronto and Chicago were also mentioned as potential suitors for the big man leading up to the deadline, and Scotto says the Mavericks have expressed interest too.

Poeltl has emerged as a two-way force this season, averaging a career-high 13.1 PPG, 9.0 RPG, and 2.8 APG in 45 games (28.8 MPG). He’s also San Antonio’s top rim protector, with 1.7 BPG.

The Spurs, meanwhile, have been one of the league’s busiest teams in the last month as they look to collect draft assets and young talent. According to Scotto, San Antonio considered drafting Jones at No. 12 last July before ultimately opting for Joshua Primo. Presumably, the Spurs are still high on Jones despite the fact that he hasn’t shown much yet at the NBA level, logging just 46 minutes across 16 games.

Washington has been solid again this season for Charlotte, averaging 9.9 PPG and 5.5 RPG on .446/.386/.729 shooting, but has seen his role reduced. He’s coming off the bench and is averaging a career-low 24.6 minutes per game after averaging 30+ MPG in each of his first two NBA seasons.

Trade Rumors: Barnes, Lakers, P. Washington, Bulls

As Thursday’s trade deadline nears, the Kings have been sending signals that they plan to hang onto forward Harrison Barnes, according to Marc Stein (Twitter link).

Barnes has been a frequent subject of recent trade rumors, with one report earlier today stating that the Kings were still very much open to discussing him. A follow-up report said Sacramento only wanted win-now pieces in any deal involving the veteran forward, since the team still has playoff aspirations.

It seems safe to assume that most teams with interest in Barnes are other contenders or playoff hopefuls — those clubs would likely be more inclined to give up draft picks and young prospects than players who can contribute right away, so it makes sense that the Kings are having a tough time finding a deal they like.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Lakers have been “very reluctant” to give up a future first-round pick in any deadline trade, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said today (video link). According to Bill Oram of The Athletic, prior to Tuesday, it seemed the front office’s preference was to wait until the offseason to do anything major, since the team’s 2029 first-round pick will become eligible to be traded at that time — L.A. could theoretically package its ’27 and ’29 first-rounders in the summer. Tuesday’s loss reportedly helped create a greater sense of urgency in the Lakers’ locker room to make a deadline move, so it will be interesting to see how the front office responds.
  • The Hornets aren’t shopping forward P.J. Washington, but they’ve been willing to listen to calls about him, according to Jordan Schultz, who reports (via Twitter) that the Heat, Raptors, and Rockets are among the teams with interest in Washington.
  • Bulls guard Coby White has been mentioned off and on this season as a possible trade candidate, but he doesn’t sound too concerned about what will happen at the deadline, as K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago relays. “I think I’ll be here past the deadline,” White said. “I haven’t really been worried about it.”
  • According to Johnson, there’s not much buzz right now about the Bulls making a major splash at the deadline. League sources tell Johnson that Chicago seems more interested in a frontcourt addition than acquiring a player like Dennis Schröder. Two of Johnson’s sources said the team’s reported interest in Schröder has been overstated.

NBA Fines Mavs’ Porzingis, Hornets’ Washington, Raptors’ Champagnie

Three NBA players have been fined $15K apiece by the league for recent violations, according to a pair of press releases.

Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis received his $15K fine for kicking the game ball into the stands during the fourth quarter of his team’s blowout loss to Golden State on Tuesday. Porzingis received a technical foul and was ejected at the time of the incident — now he’ll face an additional penalty, though losing $15K of his $31.65MM salary is hardly an exorbitant punishment.

Meanwhile, Hornets forward P.J. Washington and Raptors forward Justin Champagnie were each fined $15K for their involvement in an on-court altercation during the first quarter of Tuesday’s game in Toronto.

As the league outlined in its announcement, Washington hip-checked Champagnie to the ground and the Raptors rookie retaliated by shoving Washington in the back. The Hornets forward escalated the incident by “forcefully shoving” Champagnie, according to the league. Both players received technical fouls and were ejected.

The penalties will sting a little more for Washington and especially Champagnie than for Porzingis. Washington has a $4.2MM salary this season, while Champagnie is a two-way player whose 2021/22 earnings can max out at about $752K.

Southeast Rumors: Harris, Ross, Bamba, Washington, Knox, More

The Magic are believed to be asking for a first-round pick in exchange for each of Gary Harris, Terrence Ross, and Mohamed Bamba, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. That asking price is more justifiable for some of those players than others, but I’m skeptical that Orlando will be able to get a first-rounder for any of the three unless the pick is heavily protected or the Magic take back some bad money.

Fischer says rival teams with interest in those players believe Orlando’s asking price may drop as the trade deadline nears. In some cases, the Magic could end up seeking two second-rounders, which was what they accepted in return for Evan Fournier at last season’s deadline.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • According to Fischer, Hornets forward P.J. Washington is a candidate to be moved at the February 10 trade deadline. Fischer suggests Charlotte may be facing a bit of a roster crunch this summer with team salary on the rise, and Washington could be the odd man out. The third-year forward is extension-eligible in the 2022 offseason and would reached restricted free agency in 2023 if he doesn’t sign a new deal this year.
  • The protected first-round pick the Hawks received in exchange for Cam Reddish was the primary motivator to make the trade, but Kevin Knox may not have just been a salary throw-in. Sources tell Fred Katz and Chris Kirschner of The Athletic that Atlanta has no plans to trade or release Knox right now.
  • According to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link), The Hawks sent the Knicks $834,589 in cash in the Reddish trade. That amount covers the salary still owed to Solomon Hill, so Atlanta didn’t save any money as a result of including Hill in the deal — the team did open up a roster spot though.
  • Wizards guard Spencer Dinwiddie has been cleared to play in both ends of back-to-backs after not doing so during the first half, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Dinwiddie, coming off an ACL tear in 2020/21, played on both Tuesday and Wednesday for Washington.

COVID-19 Updates: Noel, Hornets, Pacers, Ingles, Reed, Bucks, Metu

Knicks center Nerlens Noel has cleared the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, per New York’s PR team (Twitter link). Noel entered the protocols in late December.

The 6’11” big man has only appeared in 17 contests, starting 10, for New York so far this season. The 27-year-old out of Kentucky is averaging 3.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.5 BPG and 1.1 SPG across 23.1 MPG. Knee injuries kept Noel absent for much of the start of the 2021/22 season. He signed a lucrative three-year, $32MM contract with the Knicks during the offseason.

Here are a few more protocol-related updates: