Blake Ahearn

Western Notes: Green, Sarver, Grizzlies, Jokic

Although the veteran big man struggled throughout most of the season, Warriors coach Steve Kerr expects to see the very best version of Draymond Green next year, recently explaining his thoughts on KNBR’s “Tolbert, Kreuger and Brooks” podcast (hat tip to Sportando).

“I think this year was really frustrating for him offensively, and then as a competitor, it was frustrating for him just losing night after night,” Kerr said. “It’s just too difficult in this league to try to win games when you’re that shorthanded. I think he dealt with the frustration. He definitely boiled over several times, got kicked out. But, overall, I just thought he handled himself well.”

“He made it through, and he is getting a much-needed rest,” Kerr continued. “And I think we’re going to see the very best version of Draymond next year, whenever next season starts. I feel really good about where he’s going to be mentally and physically.”

Green posted averages of 8.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game on 39% shooting from the floor and 28% shooting from deep this season. By comparison, he averaged 11 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.3 assists per contest during Golden State’s last title run in 2017/18, shooting 45% from the floor.

The Warriors dealt with a series of injuries this season, playing without Klay Thompson and losing Stephen Curry to an injury in late October. The team finished with the NBA’s worst record at 15-50 and is among eight clubs that weren’t invited to the league’s restart in Orlando next month.

Here are some other notes out of the Western Conference today:

  • Suns owner Robert Sarver wanted to own an NBA franchise in Las Vegas, Jeremy Cluff of the Arizona Republic writes. Sarver, who purchased the Suns in 2004, explained that then-commissioner David Stern pointed him toward Phoenix after Sarver initially expressed interest in Vegas.
  • The Grizzlies have hired Austin Spurs assistant Blake Ahearn to their coaching staff, the team announced in a press release. Ahearn is the sixth assistant coach on Memphis’ staff, leaving the Spurs’ minor league affiliate in Austin to accept the position. He’ll participate in various player development efforts with the Grizzlies, including shooting development.
  • Mike Singer of the Denver Post examines whether Nikola Jokic‘s sudden weight loss could negatively impact his game. Jokic has slimmed down during quarantine with hopes of getting in better shape and becoming quicker, though his past successes with the Nuggets have come with a wide seven-foot, 280-pound frame.

West Notes: Randle, Noel, Donovan

With all of the hype surrounding the Lakers these days, those who’ve overlooked Julius Randle can be forgiven. As Frank Urbina of Hoops Hype writes, however, the underrated big man could still be a viable component of Los Angeles’ intriguing young core.

While his effective field-goal percentage and value over replacement player figures have left much to be desired, the versatile forward is in position to take yet another leap forward in his third full season with the Lakers.

In 2016/17, Randle became just the ninth forward in NBA history to average 13.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, a testament to his playmaking ability and tendency to find his Lakers teammates.

What’s more, the Lakers big man has shown an impressive commitment to conditioning and has the Instagram account to prove it.

There’s more from the Western Conference:

  • We wrote yesterday that Nerlens Noel unexpectedly signed his qualifying offer with the Mavs after supposedly turning down a four-year, $70MM offer. At the time of the signing, ESPN’s Chris Haynes tweeted that the four-year deal was “non-existent.” Shortly after news broke, Noel’s former agent Happy Walters responded to the Haynes tweet, insisting that the deal was in fact extended and rejected, however that doesn’t necessarily mean that the offer was still on the table when Noel’s new representation, Rich Paul and Klutch Sports Group, took over in the negotiation process. For a breakdown of the process, check out Isaac Harris of The Smoking Cuban‘s recap.
  • Former Spurs guard Blake Ahearn has returned to the organization he spent his three-game career with as a head coach of the Spurs’ G League affiliate. Ahearn recently spoke with Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News and shed light on how much of an impact R.C. Buford and the team’s front office made on him.
  • Big man Steven Adams and his Thunder head coach, Billy Donovan, have spent time bonding in Adams’ native New Zealand, Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman writes. “For me, there’s an incredible power with a group of people that are connected in what they’re doing,” Donovan said. “I feel like my job, my role, my responsibility – whether it be during the season or in the offseason – is to try and create those connections. Because if we’re all unified, connected and moving in the right direction, it has a chance to be something really powerful.

Southwest Notes: Nowitzki, Olajuwon, Spurs

The give-and-take relationship that Dirk Nowitzki and Mavs owner Mark Cuban have has never been on clearer display than when the 39-year-old took a $20MM pay cut between this year and last, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes.

“Mark and I obviously have a close, close relationship,” Nowitzki said. Last year, he really, really took care of me as we all know […] and it was my time to show again that I love being [with the Mavs]. I gave him a little bit of a deal, maybe.”

The big man is optimistic about the Mavs’ young core built around Harrison Barnes, Dennis Smith Jr. and, hopefully, Nerlens Noel, suggesting that he’s hopeful to leave the franchise in as good a position as possible when he retires after this season or next.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Spurs have named Blake Ahearn the new head coach of their G League affiliate, the team announced in a press release on its website. Ahearn, who played briefly in the NBA, will be at the helm of the Austin Spurs in 2017/18.
  • Count Hakeem Olajuwon among those interested in buying a portion of the Rockets. The franchise Hall of Famer has been approached by several groups that want him involved in a potential purchase, Mark Woods reports for ESPN.
  • The Mavs have a young core in place that they’re happy with and aren’t afraid to let it develop organically. “I think that young core is what we want to continue to build on, grow with and hopefully surprise a lot of people,” owner Mark Cuban told Earl Sneed of Dallas’ official website. “I think Dennis [Smith Jr.] is going to be able to come in, play and hopefully have an impact his first year, and we don’t want to take anything away from that.

International Notes: Nogueira, English, Ennis

Today's international news and rumors deal with a pair of former NBA players and a pair of 2013 draft picks. Here's the latest on the notable names from around the globe:

  • Hawks first-rounder Lucas Nogueira will play for Spain's Asefa Estudiantes Madrid for the 2013/14 season, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The 16th overall pick will almost certainly be the highest pick from this year's draft to spend next season overseas — 28th overall pick Livio Jean-Charles looks like he'll be the only other first-rounder heading to Europe.
  • According to a La Gazzetta dello Sport report, passed along by Sportando, Italian club Virtus Roma has interest in Kim English. English was selected in the second round of the 2012 draft by the Pistons, but was released earlier this offseason.
  • Chris Tomasson of FOX Sports Florida writes that the Heat were hoping that James Ennis would join the club's D-League affiliate in Sioux Falls. However, Miami didn't want to sign Ennis and have him taking up one of the Heat's 15 roster spots for 2013/14, so Ennis would have only made about $25K if he'd joined the Skyforce — he opted for a more lucrative contract in Australia instead.
  • Ukrainian club BC Budivelnyk has officially signed Blake Ahearn, who has played for the Heat, Spurs, and Jazz, and spent last fall in camp with the Pacers (hat tip to Sportando, via Twitter).

International Notes: Eyenga, Balkman, Baynes

It's already been a busy day of basketball news and rumors overseas, so let's check in on some of today's international stories relating to former or future NBA players….

  • Jon Pastuszek of writes that former Cav and Laker Christian Eyenga has been formally announced as the newest addition for China's Shanxi Brave Dragons. Eyenga was bought out of his D-League contract to clear a path to China last week.
  • Within the same piece, Pastuszek provides a couple more CBA updates, noting that Rashad McCants may be released soon by the Foshan Dralions and that Blake Ahearn is off to a good start with the DongGuan Leopards.
  • Back in December, we heard that ex-Knick Renaldo Balkman was likely on his way to the Philippines. Now, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando confirms (via Twitter) that Balkman has officially joined Philippines' Petron Blaze Boosters.
  • Following up on a tweet by Djordje Matic, Sportando reports that Australian big man Aron Baynes is close to signing a multiyear deal with the Spurs. However, Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld tweets that it may happen next year instead. I'd be a little surprised if the Spurs used their final roster spot on Baynes now rather than maintaining some flexibility, but we did hear a month ago that a pair of Western Conference clubs were keeping tabs on the Euroleague standout — it appears one of those teams was the Spurs.
  • Despite recent rumors that he could be on his way to the NBA this season, Bobby Brown tells La Gazzetta Dello Sport (English link via Sportando) that he's committed to remaining with Siena.
  • Solomon Jones, who was cut in October by the Suns, is drawing interest from a Chinese team, according to a report (passed along by HoopsWorld).

Odds & Ends: Jazz, Hamilton, Gelabale, Ahearn

A few Sunday morning odds and ends from around the Association:

  • Given the number of Western Conference contenders with strong frontcourts, Lang Greene of HoopsWorld wonders if the Jazz would be better off hanging to all their big men. Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson are both in the final seasons of their deals, while Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are considered Utah's bigs of the future.
  • Back in the Bulls' lineup, Richard Hamilton tells Nick Friedell of that he isn't let trade rumors bother him. "It happens every year," Hamilton said. "Every year, if you ain't in a trade rumor, then you ain't doing something right. That's how I always looked at it. That's the way this game goes, you hear about stuff every day because GMs are talking to different players every day. It's nothing that I even get caught up or think about or anything like that."
  • French forward Mickael Gelabale would be open to signing with the Timberwolves if he received a 20-day guarantee, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (via Twitter). Because all contracts become guaranteed on January 10th, the team can't exactly offer a 20-day guarantee at this point, but the Wolves could be willing to sign Gelabale to a pair of 10-day deals, or perhaps write buyout terms into a contract ahead of time.
  • Blake Ahearn, who was released by the Pacers before the season began, has agreed to sign with China's Dongguan Leopards, according to a Weibo report (passed along by HoopsHype).
  • With the Mavericks struggling, and at least nine of the team's 15 players set for free agency at season's end, coach Rick Carlisle will have a challenging stretch ahead of him over the next few weeks, writes Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News.

Odds & Ends: Ahearn, Wizards, Draft, Bargnani

A year ago today, the NBA lockout had just officially ended and we were immersed in a compressed and frantic period of free agency. As fun a week as that was, I'll take this year's December 10th, which features an evening slate of six NBA contests, including a Southeast battle between the Hawks and Heat. As we await tonight's games, let's round up a few afternoon odds and ends:

  • In addition to working out Ben Uzoh on Sunday, the Wizards also took a look at Blake Ahearn, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. However, Washington doesn't plan to sign either player to replace the injured A.J. Price.
  • In the latest draft blog at (Insider link), Jay Bilas and Chad Ford discuss which college point guard is the top prospect at the position.
  • John Hollinger also has an Insider-only piece up at, in which he examines Andrea Bargnani's disappointing performance so far this season for the Raptors. If Bargnani plays like this all season, the amnesty clause could be a real possibility next summer, says Hollinger. I still think the former first overall pick has some trade value, but that value is certainly not where it was even a few weeks ago.
  • The Hawks are still figuring out when to bring back Mike Scott from the D-League, tweets Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
  • Tony Parker sees a little of himself in Jeremy Lin, as he tells Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

Pacers Exercise Option On George, Release Three

The Pacers announced a series of roster moves today in a press release, formally exercising their 2013/14 option on Paul George and releasing three players: Luke Nevill, Sundiata Gaines, and Blake Ahearn.

The three cuts reduce the Pacers' roster to 15 players, though it's unclear if the club will carry a full 15-man roster into the regular season. Camp invitee Ben Hansbrough is still on the roster, on a fully non-guaranteed contract, and wasn't considered likely to make the team. Sam Young also has a contract that only has a small guarantee, though he appears a much stronger bet to stick around.

While Nevill had a fully non-guaranteed deal, both Ahearn and Gaines had $25K guarantees on their contracts, so the Pacers will take a very small cap hit for both players.

As for George, he was the only Pacer with an option decision pending for 2013/14. That will be the final year of his rookie contract, and he'll earn a guaranteed $3.28MM salary before potentially becoming a restricted free agent in the summer of 2014. The Pacers will also have the opportunity to sign him to a long-term extension in the 2013 offseason.

Central Notes: Pacers, Villanueva, Jaric, Pargo

As the Cavs reportedly put the finishing touches on a training-camp contract for Kevin Anderson, their division rivals are staying active as well. Here's the latest on a few Central Division teams:

  • Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star examines the Pacers' final couple roster spots, predicting that Sam Young will earn one, while Blake Ahearn and Sundiata Gaines will compete for the other.
  • After a forgettable 2011/12 season, Charlie Villanueva is fighting to bounce back for the Pistons this year, as Vince Goodwill of the Detroit News writes. Asked about the amnesty rumors that surrounded him in July, Villanueva admitted that it was hard not to notice: "It burns me up. It just drove me. Instead of being upset, I said, this will pass and I will let my game do the talking."
  • Marko Jaric was in recently to work out with the Bulls, according to Aggrey Sam of (via Twitter). Jaric has seven years of NBA experience under his belt, but hasn't played in the league since 2008/09, with the Grizzlies.
  • Jannero Pargo expects to finalize a deal within the next couple days, reports Shams Charania of (via Twitter). Charania adds that Pargo is "sticking around Chicago," but I would assume that's just where he's working out, rather than an indication he'll sign with the Bulls.

Pacers Sign Blake Ahearn

11:06am: Ahearn's deal is partially guaranteed, according to Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype.

10:39am: The Pacers and free agent guard Blake Ahearn have agreed to a deal, a source told HoopsHype (via Twitter).  The sharpshooter finished the 2011/12 season with the Jazz on a pair of consecutive ten-day contracts.

The 27-year-old was the D-League's top scorer last season, averaging 23.8 PPG and 5.1 APG in 37 games for the Reno Bighorns.  Ahearn saw 30 minutes of play for the Jazz across four games last season, his first NBA action since suiting up for the Spurs in 2008/09.  The 6'3" guard is known mostly for his outside shooting which was on display in the D-League last season as he shot 40% from downtown.