Arron Afflalo

Marc Lore Believes Wolves Negotiations “Close To Finish Line”

As we detailed on Tuesday, the exclusive 30-day negotiating window that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and a group led by Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore entered into last month expired this week, but the two sides reportedly continue to negotiate in good faith.

Speaking to Matthew Boyle of Bloomberg, Lore confirmed that point and expressed optimism that a deal will get done. According to Boyle, Lore said that talks with Taylor are “going well” and that he thinks they’re “getting close to the finish line.”

While Lore’s comments don’t provide any guarantees, they’re an encouraging sign, given that Taylor has entered into exclusive negotiating windows with potential suitors for the team in the past and has never completed a deal.

Taylor appears to have gotten much further down the road with Lore and Rodriguez than with those previous bidders. The two sides have already agreed on some key points, including a valuation in the $1.5 billion range for the franchise, and a plan to have Lore and A-Rod come aboard as limited partners before they eventually assume majority control.

Still, with the exclusivity window closed and no deal officially done, there’s an opening for other interested parties to get in touch with Taylor and attempt to gain some traction in discussions of their own. Marc Stein of The New York Times reports (via Twitter) that former NBA wing Arron Afflalo, who is heading up one potential ownership group, intends to resume his efforts to buy the team. It remains to be seen if those talks or others will go anywhere.

And-Ones: Brown, Bates, Afflalo, All-Underrated Team

The Milwaukee Common Council has approved a $750K settlement in a lawsuit brought by former Bucks player Sterling Brown over his 2018 arrest, according to an Associated Press report. Brown was taken to the ground and shocked with a Taser after he was approached by police over a parking violation.

As part of the settlement, Brown was given an apology from the city and Milwaukee police that “recognizes that the incident escalated in an unnecessary manner and despite Mr. Brown’s calm behavior.” It also requires the city to commit to changes in the police department’s standard operating procedures. Brown is currently playing for the Rockets.

We have more news and notes from around the basketball world:

  • High school star Emoni Bates decommitted from Michigan State and ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Jeff Borzello take a look at where Bates might end up. Bates, who is currently attending a prep school created by his father, won’t be eligible for the draft until 2023. Numerous colleges have made offers to Bates after he decommitted but he still has another year to go before he pursue that route. He could take the G League route if he graduates this spring but would have to stay there for two years due to the NBA’s age limit.
  • Former NBA player Arron Afflalo was part of a group that tried to purchase the Timberwolves and Afflalo is continuing to seek other opportunities to become a part-owner of a franchise. The Athletic’s David Aldridge spoke with Afflalo about his conversations with the Timberwolves and other topics.
  • Rudy Gobert, Jrue Holiday and De’Anthony Melton top the list of players on John Hollinger’s All-Underrated Team. The Athletic columnist lists his top 10 in that category, plus another group of that made his Honorable Mention list.

Timberwolves Notes: Afflalo, No. 1 Pick, Trades

A month-and-a-half after we first learned that former NBA player Arron Afflalo was part of an investment group exploring a bid for the Timberwolves, Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic report that Afflalo’s group has now engaged in talks with the Raine Group (the search firm working with team owner Glen Taylor) about buying the franchise.

According to The Athletic’s duo, the group – which includes entrepreneur Jay Bloom – hasn’t yet met with Taylor for advanced discussions, but is hopeful of getting to that point.

Although Afflalo didn’t spend time with the Timberwolves as a player, he’s close with the Saunders family, according to Charania and Krawczynski, who note that the late Flip Saunders was Afflalo’s first coach in the NBA. The former guard has strong relationships with current Wolves coach Ryan Saunders and president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, per The Athletic.

Taylor, who wants a commitment from any buyer to keep the franchise in Minnesota, has sought local buyers, but hasn’t had any success on that front so far, Charania and Krawczynski report. Still, Afflalo’s group doesn’t sound like it has any interest in relocating the Wolves. If the group buys the team, there “would be a desire to become pillars in the Twin Cities community,” according to The Athletic.

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • While the Timberwolves will explore what the No. 1 overall pick can get them in a trade, the idea that the selection will net them an established star such as Devin Booker or Ben Simmons is probably unrealistic, says Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Pointing out that this year’s top pick isn’t as valuable as a typical No. 1 overall selection given the lack of a clear-cut No. 1 prospect, Hine suggests that players such as Victor Oladipo, Caris LeVert, and Aaron Gordon may be more viable targets in any major deal.
  • Timberwolves executive VP of basketball operations Sachin Gupta, who created ESPN’s Trade Machine, said there will be “no stone unturned” when it comes to exploring the Wolves’ draft and trade options this offseason, as Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic details. “If you’re not being proactive in trade you’re missing out on one of the most significant ways to impact your roster,” Gupta said. “We are not bashful at all. We try to be creative and generate ideas. We’re not afraid to throw it out there.”
  • Gupta added that the Timberwolves aren’t focusing on any specific objective as they consider trade options, but are simply looking to maximize the value of their assets. “We’ve been having a lot of fun just thinking of all of the different possibilities that getting the No. 1 pick has presented us,” Gupta said. “Trading back, trading out, trading for future with the quality of the upcoming drafts and the possibility of, at some point, the double draft. There’s just so much available to us.”
  • In case you missed it, Gupta was identified on Tuesday as one of several candidates for the Kings’ head of basketball operations job.

Arron Afflalo Involved In Group Bidding On Timberwolves

A prospective ownership group putting together an offer for the Timberwolves includes former NBA guard Arron Afflalo, two people with knowledge of the bid tell Pat Graham and Dave Campbell of The Associated Press.

According to the AP duo, venture capitalist Brock Berglund would be “spearheading the financing,” though the group would consist of two to five people with a combined net worth exceeding $10 billion. Afflalo would be the face of the group, which plans to submit its bid no later than this weekend, per Graham and Campbell.

The Associated Press’ report also notes that Afflalo’s group is a diverse one that is “seeking to place minorities in positions of power and uplift the community in the wake of the death of George Floyd.”

Previous reports indicated that former Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett is part of a group preparing a bid for the Timberwolves, now that team owner Glen Taylor is increasingly open to a sale. It doesn’t sound as if Garnett and Afflalo are part of the same group.

While Garnett’s connection to the franchise is obvious, Afflalo’s involvement in the bidding process is a little more surprising. The 34-year-old’s career earnings, per Basketball-Reference, totaled about $59MM, a fraction of Garnett’s $343MM. Additionally, Afflalo, who made his NBA debut in 2007 and spent 11 seasons in the league, suited up for six different teams, but the Wolves weren’t one of them.

Nonetheless, sources tell The Associated Press that the team wouldn’t be relocated if it’s sold to Afflalo’s group. Keeping the franchise in Minnesota has been a top priority for Taylor as he weighs his options.

It’s not clear what other bidders besides Afflalo’s and Garnett’s groups may be in the mix. The Wilf family – which owns the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings – was said to be interested, but despite some initial discussions, the Wilfs reportedly aren’t engaged in any active talks about purchasing the Wolves. Still,

Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic says (via Twitter) that there has been a “flood of interest” since word broke that Taylor is exploring a sale. Krawczynski notes that there were six of seven groups “already at the table” earlier in the week.

Delaney, Meeks, Afflalo Working Out For Warriors

9:02am: Jodie Meeks, Arron Afflalo, and DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell are also working out for the Warriors today, Shaw has learned (Twitter link).

7:52am: Veteran point guard Malcolm Delaney is working out for the Warriors today, a source tells JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors (Twitter link). Delaney also recently auditioned for the Knicks.

A former Virginia Tech standout, Delaney spent two seasons with the Hawks from 2016-18, averaging 5.7 PPG and 2.8 APG in 127 total games in Atlanta. Outside of that two-year NBA stint, Delaney has spent his professional career overseas, playing for teams in France, Ukraine, Germany, Russia, and China.

A recent report indicated that Delaney was in talks with Spanish club Barcelona about a potential deal, but was continuing to seek out NBA offers before deciding whether or not to return to Europe.

While the Warriors have room on their offseason roster to add Delaney or another player, it’s hard to see a path to a regular season roster spot for a camp invitee in Golden State, given the team’s hard cap. The Dubs would have to release Alfonzo McKinnie‘s non-guaranteed contract or make a trade to create the room necessary to carry another player into the regular season.

A report on Monday indicated that former first-round pick Jared Cunningham would also be working out for the Warriors.

Sixers Work Out Rush, Afflalo, Others

The Sixers held a free-agent workout this week with multiple veteran players, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, who tweets that Brandon Rush and Arron Afflalo were among those in attendance.

The team also worked out Sean Kilpatrick, who last played for the Bulls, and Haywood Highsmith, who currently plays in the NBA G League, according to Charania.

The Sixers are not expected to make a roster move following the workout, a source told EJ Smith of the Philly Inquirer.

Philadelphia is likely seeking to bolster its bench and find another talent who can play on the wing. The team traded for All-Star Jimmy Butler last month and has a 17-9 record through the season’s first 26 games, good for third in the Eastern Conference.

Rush last played in the NBA during the 2016-17 season, scoring 4.2 points per game on 37% shooting in 47 contests with Minnesota. He holds nine years of experience and is a career 40% three-point shooter. Last season, Rush was waived by the Bucks in training camp and signed a 10-day deal with Portland, but didn’t appear in any games.

Afflalo, an 11-year veteran, spent 53 games with Orlando last season before reaching free agency in July. He averaged career-lows in points (3.4) and minutes (12.9) per game, but provided veteran leadership off the court for the Magic‘s younger players.

Kilpatrick, 28, has bounced around the NBA since going undrafted in 2014. He’s made stops with Minnesota, Denver, Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Chicago and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Highsmith plays for the Delaware Blue Coats, G League affiliate of the 76ers. He’s a 6’7” sharpshooter who’s impressed multiple league-observers this season, averaging 22 points, 12.5 rebounds and three assists per outing.

Timberwolves To Work Out Several Veterans

Minnesota appears to be looking to bring in a veteran on the wing, with Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 reporting (Twitter link) that the team will host several free agents for workouts this week. Nick Young, Arron Afflalo, and Corey Brewer are among the players expected to meet with the Timberwolves.

The franchise has only 12 players on guaranteed salaries in addition to James Nunnally‘s partially guaranteed pact, so the organization has the ability to open up as many as two or three roster spots with ease. The Wolves could be an option for Luol Deng now that the wing is a free agent and they reportedly would have interest in Joakim Noah should the center hit the open market. Both Deng and Noah previously played under coach Tom Thibodeau when he was coaching in Chicago.

Brewer was drafted by the Timberwolves with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2007 draft before being dealt to the Knicks in the Carmelo Anthony trade. He came back to the Wolves in the summer of 2013 and they traded him again, this time to the Rockets in another three-team deal. Both stints in Minnesota predated Thibodeau’s arrival.

Minnesota had interest in Young early in free agency, though no deal materialized. He’s coming off a one-year, $5.19MM contract with the Warriors, one that he’s unlikely to surpass in annual value this offseason. The shooting guard scored just 7.3 points per contest during his lone season in Golden State and he was recently arrested in Los Angeles for allegedly failing to cooperate during a routine traffic stop.

Afflalo has played for six NBA franchises during his 11-year career. He shot 38.6% from behind the arc last season in Orlando, a figure that exactly matches his career average.

Pacific Rumors: Thomas, Budenholzer, Cook, Kings

Isaiah Thomas hip issue has severely damaged his value on the open market, some front office executives told Sean Deveney of the Sporting News. Fears that his hip is either pre-arthritic or already arthritic will likely force the Lakers point guard to accept a one-year “prove it” deal or a two-year deal with a team option, Deveney continues. That’s a dramatic fall for a player who was expected to be a max contract candidate just a year ago, Deveney notes. One GM that Deveney talked to predicted that Thomas would have to accept a “low-risk deal.”

In other news around the Pacific Division:

  • It’s unclear why Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the Suns he was no longer interested in their head coaching job, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic writes. He was either underwhelmed by what he heard from the Suns’ brass, didn’t get a sufficient financial offer or found a better opportunity somewhere else, Bordow adds. Ex-Grizzlies coach David Fizdale appears to be the favorite for the job but he’s also being pursued by the Knicks, Hornets and perhaps the Bucks, Bordow continues. Jazz assistant Igor Kokoskov also appears to be a prime candidate but if the Trail Blazers fire Terry Stotts, he would likely become the frontrunner, Bordow adds.
  • Quinn Cook‘s long odyssey from being undrafted in 2015 to rotation player with the Warriors in this year’s playoffs is chronicled by Sports Illustrated’s Jack Fischer. This season alone was a whirlwind, as Fischer explains, with Cook getting waived by the Hawks before training camp, then signing a two-way contract with Golden State. When Stephen Curry was sidelined by a left knee injury, the Warriors signed Cook to a standard contract. He’s averaging 6.8 PPG in 19.8 MPG against the Spurs in the opening round.
  • The Kings have $5.4MM in cap room to use by the end of June, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. They increased it by $2MM through the set-off in the waived contracts of Anthony Tolliver and Arron Afflalo, Marks adds. The new cap year begins in July.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2018: Orlando Magic

Despite some unsavory long-term contracts, the Magic have plenty of cap space lined up for the 2018/19 season. For that reason, and the obvious one that they haven’t sniffed a .500 record the last six seasons, the franchise is very much a blank canvas heading forward.

Last season was the first year at the helm for new president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and general manager John Hammond, and they played things rather safe, inking a handful of serviceable, if forgettable, veterans to modest deals and calling it an offseason. This summer we may get our first look at what their long-term plans for the franchise are.

Arron Afflalo, SG, 32 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
While the once-vaunted perimeter defender previously came with a hefty price tag, the Magic managed to snag Afflalo on a cheap deal this past season. You can’t fault the squad for the speculative leadership add considering the lack of identity on the roster, but there’s no obvious reason to expect the veteran to want to return after a forgettable 2017/18. Afflalo played just 12.9 minutes per game this season and literally can’t do any worse on the open market than he did last time when he landed a minimum contract on a terrible team that couldn’t even be bothered to give him consistent playing time. That’s not a knock on either party — sometimes things just aren’t a good fit — but I expect the journeyman to seek a more substantive role for the first time since his stint in Denver.

Aaron Gordon, PF, 22 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $18MM contract in 2014
The Magic have all the flexibility in the world to accommodate a sizable Gordon deal and the combo forward is intriguing enough to convince at least one other team to make a generous offer. While it’s hard to say with certainty that Gordon can carry this franchise on his back given that he hasn’t really done so in four seasons, it’s equally hard to fault a team for pouncing on the opportunity to lock in an All-Star-adjacent asset that hasn’t even turned 23 yet. Could Gordon yield the max contract that he’s said to be seeking? It seems within reach, even if the Magic or any other team that commits to it ends up slightly underwhelmed.

Mario Hezonja, SF, 23 (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $12MM contract in 2015Mario Hezonja of the Orlando Magic vertical
The Magic turned down the fourth-year option on Hezonja’s rookie contract and the swingman responded with the most memorable season of his young career so far. In 11 February contests Hezonja averaged 15.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, briefly showcasing that he could potentially be relied upon as an offensive weapon if given the opportunity. Nothing precludes the Magic from putting an offer on the table to bring him back this summer, but they can’t give him a starting salary higher than the value of the option they turned down ($5.17MM). Regardless, declining that option suggests the front office may have already made up its mind about his future with the team. Hezonja should draw interest elsewhere and could end up as a modest rotation player.

Marreese Speights, C, 30 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
Speights went from chipping in for four straight Western Conference contenders to a decidedly less competitive Magic squad, but don’t overlook the fact that the veteran established himself as a leader on a team in his home state. While there won’t be a shortage of space or money to bring Speights back in 2018/19, it’s reasonable to believe he’ll at least consider offers that could put him back in a position to contend. Speights was, and remains, an intriguing stretch big capable of filling the stat sheet in limited minutes off the bench. He won’t be any team’s top priority but he’s worth more than what he made this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eastern Rumors: Afflalo, Thompson, Johnson, Wizards

Arron Afflalo could be a target for the Raptors if he reaches a buyout agreement with the Magic, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. Afflalo played for the Nuggets when Raptors president Masai Ujiri was there, while current Magic president Jeff Weltman is Toronto’s former GM, Lewenberg notes. The career 38.6% 3-point shooter would give the Raptors some insurance at the wing, Lewenberg adds. Afflalo has appeared in 43 games with the Magic, averaging 3.2 PPG in 12.9 MPG. He signed with Orlando last summer on a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal.

In other developments around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Knicks are an unlikely destination for Klay Thompson during free agency in 2019, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News relays though an Adrian Wojnarowski podcast. The Warriors shooting guard wants to continue to play in a warm weather city, he told Wojnarowski. “It’d be weird leaving the Bay Area. I believe I’m going to be there for a very long time.,” he said. “I can say that truthfully. But a lot can happen the next two years. It’s going to be hard to leave California when it’s sunny like this.”
  • The Heat are expected to seek offers for combo guard Tyler Johnson as early as this summer but his contract provisions will make that difficult, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald explains. Johnson will make $19.2MM in each of the final two years of the backloaded deal, plus Miami would have to pay a $3.2MM trade kicker, Jackson continues. Any team trading for Johnson this offseason would have to take on the additional $1.6MM cap hit in each of the next two seasons. Miami matched the Nets’ offer sheet for Johnson during the summer of 2016.
  • The Wizards need to do a better job of communicating with each other to avoid locker room controversies, Chase Hughes of writes. The team does not have any unresolvable issues, according to Hughes, but problems like the tension between John Wall and his teammates need to be addressed privately rather than through the media or social media channels, Hughes adds.