Byron Mullens

Atlantic Notes: Rozier, J. Brown, Nets, Sixers GM

“Scary Terry” isn’t afraid of returning to a bench role now that Celtics teammate Kyrie Irving is healthy again, writes Chris Forsberg of ESPN. Terry Rozier became a postseason star in Boston with Irving sidelined after knee surgery, starting all 19 games and posting a 16.5/5.3/5.7 line as the Celtics reached Game 7 of the conference finals. Irving’s recovery will make Rozier a reserve again, but he won’t let that affect his outlook for the season.

“I’m not worried about [his role],” Rozier said today at his youth basketball camp. “Kinda control what I can control. We all got one goal, and that’s to win. We all get love when we win. That should be everybody’s mindset. It’s going to be a lot of fun. If you want to win a championship, that’s what it’s going to take — sacrifice. … We’re all going to have one goal, and it’s going to lead us to the promised land.”

Rozier’s attitude should help the Celtics, but it may not keep him in Boston beyond this season. He will be a restricted free agent next summer, and the organization may not want to make a large financial commitment to another guard with Irving also headed for free agency and Marcus Smart re-signing last month for $52MM over four years.

There’s more today from the Atlantic Division:

  • Jayson Tatum, who is coming off a stellar rookie season, expressed similar sentiments in an interview with Nicole Yang of Tatum was also outstanding for the Celtics in the playoffs, averaging 18.5 points per game, but he’s expected to lose his starting role whenever Gordon Hayward is healthy enough to take over. “I understand how deep our team is,” Tatum said. “I just care about winning and doing what I can while I’m on the floor.”
  • The Nets will probably focus on big men with their two open slots for training camp, according to an article on NetsDaily. Both players will likely wind up in the G League, and Brooklyn’s affiliate in Long Island is short on centers with an injury to Kamari Murphy, a starter last season, and the uncertain status of Prince Ibeh. The story mentions Luke Petrasek and Byron Mullens, who both attended the Nets’ free agent mini-camp this summer, as possibilities.
  • The Sixers are looking for a GM who won’t demand the final say on personnel moves, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Appearing on a podcast with Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports, Pompey said the organization wants to keep the group dynamic in the front office that it’s had since getting rid of Bryan Colangelo in June.

Nets Notes: FA Mini-Camp, RFA Market, LeVert

The Nets hosted a three-day mini-camp this week for veteran free agents, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype (Twitter link), who identifies former Thunder guard Semaj Christon and 2016 first-round pick Brice Johnson as a pair of the participants.

Per Kennedy (Twitter link), other players with previous NBA experience who took part in Brooklyn’s mini-camp include Xavier Silas, Josh Gray, Naz Mitrou-Long, Jarrod Uthoff, and Byron Mullens. Walt Lemon Jr., who saw a little action with the Pelicans this season, was also in attendance, tweets NetsDaily.

While the Nets may not end up adding any of those players to their roster for next season, the mini-camp gives the club a chance to get a closer look at some players who might have flown under-the-radar, and perhaps some candidates for two-way contracts next season.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • The Nets have been the NBA’s most active club in restricted free agency over the past two years, with little success. The club signed Allen Crabbe, Tyler Johnson, Donatas Motiejunas, and Otto Porter to offer sheets, but saw all four of those offers matched at the time (Crabbe was later traded to Brooklyn). With that recent history in mind, NetsDaily explores whether the club will foray into the RFA market again in 2018, with Aaron Gordon looming as a possible target.
  • The first draft pick of the Sean Marks era in Brooklyn, Caris LeVert showed impressive potential and versatility during his second NBA season in 2017/18, writes Michael Scotto of The Athletic. LeVert, who could become a long-term starter for the Nets, won’t be eligible for restricted free agency until 2020.
  • Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is on the wrong end of a lawsuit in New York State Court, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post details. Prokhorov is being counter-sued by Grigory Rodchenkov, the whistle-blower who exposed Russian cheating in the 2014 Olympics, for backing a libel lawsuit that Rodchenkov viewed as an intimidation tactic.

Byron Mullens To Play For Heat’s D-League Team

THURSDAY, 11:35pm: Mullens has been acquired off of waivers by the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the Heat’s D-League affiliate, Gino Pilato of D-League Digest reports (Twitter link)..

TUESDAY, 6:50pm: Veteran center Byron Mullens will join the NBA D-League, Gino Pilato of D-League Digest reports (Twitter link). Mullens will be subject to the D-League’s waiver process to determine which team he will play for. The 25-year-old had changed agents last month, and is now represented by Todd Ramasar of Stealth Sports.

The seven-footer had elected to turn down his minimum salary player option for the 2014/15 campaign to seek a more lucrative deal on the open market, but was unable to cash in this past offseason. Mullens’ last NBA action came during the 2013/14 campaign when he appeared in a combined 45 games for the Clippers and Sixers.

Mullens had played briefly in China this season before being waived by the Shanxi Brave Dragons. The big man is likely using the D-League as a springboard to make his return to the NBA. With the demand for floor-spacing centers around the league, Mullens should garner consideration for a 10-day contract if he provides teams with a strong showing once he hits the D-League hardwood.

In 189 career games over parts of five seasons, Mullens has averaged 7.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 0.8 assists. His career slash line is .408/.319/.706.

Atlantic Notes: Prince, Harris, Ainge, Mullens

Tayshaun Prince is playing well and has helped the Celtics close to within two games of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but while Brad Stevens is clearly a fan of his game, Prince’s performance is making him a more valuable trade chip, writes Chris Forsberg of The C’s have reportedly been attempting to deal Prince for draft considerations. There’s more on the Celtics amid the latest from around the Atlantic Division:

  • A close friend of Tobias Harris told Marc Berman of the New York Post last week that the forward wants to win a championship with the Knicks, but Harris’ father disputes the notion that his son is anxious to play for New York, as Torrel Harris tells Isaiah Narciso of The Gospel Times. The Knicks apparently plan to pursue the soon-to-be restricted free agent.
  • Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge waffled about his future while the Celtics were a winning team, but he’s committed to seeing Boston’s rebuilding project through and says he’s “ready for the long haul,” as he tells Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.
  • Byron Mullens has changed agents, hiring Todd Ramasar of Stealth Sports, tweets David Pick of The center, who played briefly in China this season and saw his last NBA action for the Sixers last year, had been with Lee Melchionni of the Wasserman Media Group.

And-Ones: Durant, Mullens, Varejao

Thunder star Kevin Durant has a fracture in his right foot, the team announced in a press release. The injury typically requires surgery and Durant is expected to miss a minimum of six to eight weeks before he can resume basketball activities. No procedure has been scheduled as of yet, and the team and Durant’s representatives are still weighing all treatment options. “We are in the process of collaboratively evaluating the most appropriate next steps with Kevin, his representatives, and Thunder medical personnel,” GM Sam Presti said in a statement. “Until a course of action is determined, we are unable to provide a timeline specific to Kevin’s case.” The “Slim Reaper” joins Bradley Beal, Rajon Rondo, and Nick Young, who also sustained injuries that will cause them to miss the beginning of the regular season.

Here’s more from around the league:

  •  Shanxi Zhongyu of the Chinese Basketball Association is considering waiving former NBA player Byron Mullens, Sports Sohu is reporting (translation by Enea Trapani of Sportando). Mullens appeared in 45 games split between the Sixers and Clippers last season, averaging 4.6 PPG and 2.2 RPG.
  • With the new NBA TV deal already creating rumblings from the NBPA, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel believes the best course of action from the league would be to raise the minimum salary level. Winderman’s logic is that since more players than ever are signing for the minimum, obtaining a majority players vote in the next CBA would be much easier, regardless of what other restrictions the league would impose, such as a hard cap or non-guaranteed deals.
  • Last season, the Lakers had expressed interest in an Anderson Varejao for Pau Gasol trade with the Cavs, Dave McMenamin of notes (Twitter link). After Varejao’s strong preseason showing in Brazil yesterday against the Heat, where he scored 14 points on 70% shooting, McMenamin opines that you can see why Los Angeles tried to acquire the veteran big man.
  • While Coach John Calipari says the Kentucky combine may become an annual event, not everyone is on board with the idea of it, writes Adam Zagoria of Kansas head coach Bill Self is among the skeptics. “That would certainly not be anything we would do,” Self explains. “That doesn’t mean its wrong. It just means it wouldn’t be for us.”

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Byron Mullens To Sign With Chinese Team

Byron Mullens has reached an agreement to sign with the Shanxi Brave Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association, reveals a report from (translation via Orazio Cauchi of Sportando). Mullens hit the free agent market in late June after turning down a minimum salary player option that would have kept him with the Sixers for the 2014/15 season.

After a lackluster start to his 2013/14 campaign with the Clippers, Mullens was shipped to Philadelphia and put up respectable numbers, albeit while seeing limited action. Mullens averaged 16.7 minutes per night over the course of 18 games, putting up nightly marks of 6.8 points and 3.3 boards.

The Wasserman Media Group client didn’t seem to draw much attention from NBA teams this offseason, as evidenced by the lack of activity found on his Hoops Rumors rumor page. It remains to be seen if there’s an NBA escape clause in the big man’s contract that could bring him back to the US should a stateside club show interest. The CBA’s regular season ends in February, so Mullens could still be a late season addition to a team if he indeed lacks an NBA-out in his deal. The length of the new pact hasn’t been disclosed.

Byron Mullens Opts Out, Will Hit Free Agency

Sixers big man Byron Mullens has turned down his minimum salary player option for next season and will become a free agent, GM Sam Hinkie told reporters, including Tom Moore of Calkins Media (Twitter link). The Wasserman Media Group client would have made a guaranteed salary of more than $1.063MM had he remained under contract, but he’ll seek more on the open market.

The Clippers sent him to the Sixers for a second-round draft pick at the deadline to lower their tax bill and open up room for bench upgrades in L.A. Mullens failed to have an impact after signing with the Clippers last summer, averaging just 6.2 minutes per game for them this season. He saw 13.7 MPG for Philadelphia, averaging 6.8 points and 3.3 rebounds, but perhaps most noteworthy for him was his 40% three-point shooting over his 18-game stint with the Sixers. He’s just a 31.9% three-point shooter for his career.

Philadelphia is set to have ample cap flexibility, so Mullens’ decision will probably have no significant effect on Hinkie’s summer plans.

Clippers Send Byron Mullens To Sixers

The 76ers announced that they have acquired center Byron Mullens and a 2018 second-round pick in exchange for a protected second-round pick in the 2014 draft.NBA: Charlotte Bobcats at Los Angeles Clippers

Philadelphia was discussing Chris Kaman with the Lakers shortly before the deadline, but it appears the Sixers opted to instead acquire a big man with skills similar to Spencer Hawes, whom they agreed to send to the Cavs earlier today.  

The Clippers have successfully pulled off two deals at the buzzer with Mullens and Jamison changing uniforms.  Mullens, who was once regarded as the top talent in the 2009 draft class, is headed to his to his fourth team in five years.  The big man has averaged just 2.5 PPG and 1.2 RPG in 6.2 minutes per game this season.  Even when he was seeing significant playing time with the Bobcats, Mullens never had a PER above 13.0.

Zach Links contributed to this post.  Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.  Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link) first reported that Mullens was on his way to the 76ers.  Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times added details (via Twitter).

Clippers Looking For Frontcourt Help

The Clippers are dangling Jared Dudley, Antawn Jamison and Byron Mullens in search of a frontcourt upgrade, according to Ken Berger of (Twitter link). Matt Barnes may also be on the block as well, Berger says. Marc Stein of first reported the Clippers were shopping Dudley a couple of weeks ago. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports last night tweeted overnight that the Clips were seeking backup bigs.

Jamison and Mullens were two players the team signed this past summer to serve as frontcourt reserves, but neither is having much impact. Both are on minimum-salary deals, though Jamison’s pact covers just this season while Mullens has a player option for next year.

Dudley is signed through 2015/16, making $4.25MM each year. His production is down after coming over from the Suns last summer via trade, and Doc Rivers recently yanked him from the starting lineup. Barnes is posting a career-worst 38.5% field goal percentage after inking a three-year deal for nearly $10.2MM in the offseason.

Poll: Most Improved Player In The Pacific?

The spotlight in the Pacific Division will surely be on former Clipper reserve Eric Bledsoe, who will now headline Phoenix's backcourt next to another young talent in Goran Dragic. Bledsoe's numbers last season (8.5 PPG/3.1 APG/20.4 MPG) wouldn't seem very comparable to what will be expected of him in 2013/14, especially considering some of his standout performances when given more than 30 minutes of playing time: 23 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists in 38 minutes against the Celtics, 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists in 37 minutes against the Rockets, 10 points, 10 assists, and six steals in 39 minutes against the Timberwolves, and a 27-point, 6 rebound, 6 steal, and 3-block performance in 41 minutes against the Magic to name a few. Now equipped with starter's minutes, it will be fascinating to see how the 6'1 guard will utilize his significantly increased role and responsibilities as a leader of a young team. 

Keeping all this in mind, Bledsoe should undoubtedly be among the favorites within the whole league to have a breakout season. With that aside, it was unquestionably a summer of shakeups for the rest of the Pacific Division, as each of the other four teams will feature new key rotation players in 2013/14. Let's take a look at some of the other new faces looking to make a lasting impact on their respective clubs: 

Marreese Speights, Warriors – The 6'10 power forward is entering his sixth year in the league and will be playing for his fourth NBA team after signing with Golden State this past July. Following a trade from Memphis to Cleveland halfway through last season, Speights averaged 10.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG, and 18.5 MPG in 39 games and one start for the Cavaliers. Although Sean Deveney of the Sporting News and's Scott Howard-Cooper have reported that the team is currently expecting Andrew Bogut and David Lee to be healthy enough to play without limitation, head coach Mark Jackson could possibly rely on Speights for extended minutes on some nights in order to preserve some of his older frontcourt veterans.

Considering his production in a limited amount of minutes last season, the former Florida standout could prove to be one of the most important reserves on a playoff contender this year and may open some more eyes in the process.

Byron Mullens, Clippers – Fresh off of career highs in points, rebounds, and minutes last season with the Bobcats (10.8/6.4/26.9), it remains to be seen just how Mullens' minutes and role will be handled in Los Angeles. The 7'0 big man put together a flurry of attention-grabbing performances last season, averaging 12.9 PPG/8.2 RPG/33.0 MPG in November and 10.0/7.3/28.6 in December before being sidelined with an ankle injury. Following a 19-game absence, Mullens picked up where he left off, posting 14.6/7.9/32.1 in February.

Although his overall shooting percentages were less than desirable last season (.385/.317/.636), one thing to consider is the possible improvement in the quality of shot attempts as a by-product of playing with a superstar playmaker in Chris Paul and his solid distributing backup, Darren Collison. Byron's confidence in attempting perimeter shots is far from lacking, as nearly four of his 10.6 shot attempts per game last year were taken from beyond the arc. With that being said, Mullens may very well be a viable threat who can stretch the floor provided he can improve his shooting efficiency and have better opportunities created for him. If given the minutes, he's shown that he can definitely put up some numbers. 

Wesley Johnson, Lakers – Despite his lack of floor time for the first four months of 2012/13, the 6'7 swingman made the most of his situation after being given consistent starter's minutes in the final two months of the season, averaging 13.2 PPG/1.2 SPG/30.3 MPG in March along with 12.9 PPG and 27.3 MPG in April respectively. He did well enough that despite the Suns opting not to exercise his fourth year option, there was still mutual interest in a return to Phoenix this summer. Ultimately, the former lottery pick out of Syracuse wound up with the Lakers, where he should have his fair share of opportunities as an athletic player in Mike D'Antoni's system. With Johnson playing on a one-year contract, it'd certainly be in his best interest to continue his momentum from last season and perform well enough to earn a lucrative contract next summer, whether it'd be in L.A. or somewhere else. 

Greivis Vasquez, Kings – It's more than reasonable to deem 2012/13 as a breakout year for Vasquez. The 6'6 point guard rose to the occasion in New Orleans, producing an impressive 13.9 PPG and 9.0 APG stat line in 34.4 MPG and 78 games played/started. It's important to note that he'll be entering a contract year, and one significant question is how Vasquez's numbers will fare with an entirely different cast of teammates, especially with the surplus of guards on the roster – namely Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore, Marcus Thornton, and Jimmer Fredette. Although the former Maryland star displayed his capabilities as a distributor and a tertiary scoring option last season, it appears that another major improvement within reach would be to raise his shooting percentages (.433/.342) as well as the amount of times he gets to the line (2.0). Following his career-best season to date, Vasquez will surely have to deliver in his most important one yet. 

After Bledsoe, who would you expect to be the most improved player in the Pacific Division?