Denzel Livingston

Free Agent Notes: Durant, Rockets, Clippers

Kevin Durant would give himself a better chance at winning a title if he were to leave the Thunder and join the Warriors or sign with an Eastern Conference team, Bill Simmons of The Ringer writes. Many believe that Durant will sign a two-year deal with OKC that contains a player option for year two, as was reported earlier this week.

Simmons offers an unconventional viewpoint on Durant’s impending decision. Two years ago, Durant signed a $300MM deal with Nike. At the time, he and LeBron James had the best selling sneakers among all NBA players, Simmons points out. The 2014 MVP then injured his foot and missed a significant amount of time during the 2014/15 campaign. Durant’s comeback 2015/16 season was overshadowed by Kobe Bryant‘s retirement and the Warriors’ historic 73-9 record. Now, the conversation is between Nike with James and the Jordan Brand and Under Armour with Stephen Curry, Simmons adds. Simmons argues that Durant, his representatives and Nike know they won’t be competing with the top brands unless Durant wins a ring or he leaves the Thunder and he speculates that if Nike had its way, Durant would sign elsewhere this summer.

The piece, which is must-read, is a reminder that the NBA is a business and there are several off the court factors that play into basketball decisions. Selling sneakers likely won’t be the primary force that drives Durant to stay or leave, but it’s an interesting perspective nonetheless.

Here’s more on the NBA’s upcoming free agency:

NBA Teams Designate Affiliate Players

NBA teams cut as much as 25% of their rosters at the end of the preseason, but franchises that have D-League affiliates have a way to maintain ties to many of the players they release from the NBA roster. An NBA team can claim the D-League rights to up to four of the players it waives, as long as the players clear waivers, consent to join the D-League, and don’t already have their D-League rights owned by another team. These are known as affiliate players, as our Hoops Rumors Glossary entry details.

NBA teams allocated 46 affiliate players to the D-League at the beginning of the season last year, and this year, that number has risen to 56, according to the list the D-League announced today. These players are going directly to the D-League affiliate of the NBA team that cut them and weren’t eligible for the D-League draft that took place Saturday. Teams that designated fewer than the maximum four affiliate players retain the ability to snag the D-League rights of players they waive during the regular season, but for now, this is the complete list:

Boston Celtics (Maine Red Claws)

Cleveland Cavaliers (Canton Charge)

Dallas Mavericks (Texas Legends)

Detroit Pistons (Grand Rapids Drive)

Golden State Warriors (Santa Cruz Warriors)

Houston Rockets (Rio Grande Valley Vipers)

Indiana Pacers (Fort Wayne Mad Ants)

Los Angeles Lakers (Los Angeles D-Fenders)

Memphis Grizzlies (Iowa Energy)

Miami Heat (Sioux Falls Skyforce)

New York Knicks (Westchester Knicks)

Oklahoma City Thunder (Oklahoma City Blue)

Orlando Magic (Erie BayHawks)

Philadelphia 76ers (Delaware 87ers)

Phoenix Suns (Bakersfield Jam)

Sacramento Kings (Reno Bighorns)

San Antonio Spurs (Austin Spurs)

Toronto Raptors (Raptors 905)

Utah Jazz (Idaho Stampede)

Also, several players who were on NBA preseason rosters are on D-League rosters through means other than the affiliate player rule. Most of them played under D-League contracts at some point within the last two years, meaning their D-League teams have returning player rights to them. Others entered through last weekend’s D-League draft, while others saw their D-League rights conveyed via trade. Most of these players aren’t with the D-League affiliate of the NBA team they were with last month, with a few exceptions.

Roster information from Adam Johnson of D-League Digest, Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor and freelancer and Hoops Rumors contributor Mark Porcaro was used in the creation of this post.

Southwest Notes: Conley, Robinson, Aldridge

The Grizzlies have every intention of re-signing point guard Mike Conley when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer, and based on Conley’s enthusiastic recruitment for center Marc Gasol to re-sign with the team this past offseason, the veteran playmaker also desires his time in Memphis to continue beyond this campaign, Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports writes. Gasol said he plans to leave Conley alone this season and won’t pester him to stay in Memphis, Lee adds.

Yeah, but I cannot force him to do anything that he doesn’t feel that is right. He has to do what is right for him, that he believes in it,” Gasol told Lee. “If you feel forced to do something you don’t believe in, then you’re going to regret it. And whenever he makes his decision, whatever his decision is, he knows our relationship goes way beyond basketball and we’ll always be friends, past this five, 10 years left in our careers. As long as we live, we’re going to be friends. It’s not going to affect our friendship.

Here’s more from out of the Southwest Division:

  • Nate Robinson‘s stint with the Pelicans this season lasted less than two weeks, but his release wasn’t because of anything the diminutive guard failed to do, John Reid of The Times Picayune relays (Twitter links). Robinson was replaced on New Orleans’ roster by Toney Douglas, who was thought to be a better fit for the team’s roster, according to coach Alvin Gentry, Reid notes. ”We just thought it was a better fit [with Douglas], nothing against Nate,” Gentry said. “Nate came in and did everything we asked him to do.
  • Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge is still finding his footing in San Antonio with his new team, and the player admitts that he’s “not even close” to the player San Antonio signed this offseason, Michael C. Wright of writes. “It’s not the same. I’m not the same person here that I was in Portland,” Aldridge said. “I don’t feel like they need me to be that person all the time. It’s learning how to be myself in the offense. I haven’t figured that out yet. I feel like the whole [team philosophy of] ‘good to great passes’ [is] in my head all the time. Hopefully as the season goes on I’ll figure it out. But right now, I’m just trying to fit in.
  • Rockets camp cuts Denzel Livingston, Will Cummings, Joshua Smith, and Chris Walker will join the Rio Grande Valley Vipers,  as D-League affiliate players this season, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle relays (on Twitter).

Rockets Waive Tyler, Walker, Cummings, Livingston

The Rockets have waived Jeremy Tyler, Chris WalkerWill Cummings and Denzel Livingston, the team announced (Twitter link). All four were on non-guaranteed deals. The moves leave Houston with 16 players, including 14 on fully guaranteed contracts. Arsalan Kazemi and Joshua Smith, the other two players, have non-guaranteed salaries.

Tyler, a three-year NBA veteran, is the only one of the four players the Rockets cut today who has previous experience in the league. The center, now 24, last appeared in a regular season game during 2013/14, with the Knicks. He posted eight points and eight rebounds in a total of 29 minutes spread over two preseason games for the Rockets this fall.

Walker, 20, is a once-heralded college recruit whose stock fell precipitously at Florida. He joined the Rockets summer league team in July after going undrafted this year and averaged 5.7 points in 8.3 minutes per game across three preseason appearances.

Cummings, just like Walker and Livingston, went undrafted this year and played with Houston’s summer league team. The 23-year-old former Temple point guard made it into six preseason games and averaged 4.2 points, 2.5 assists and 12.5 minutes per contest. Livingston, a combo guard from Incarnate Word, notched 7.5 points in 11.5 minutes per game during his four preseason appearances.

Rockets Sign Cummings, Livingston, Walker

SEPTEMBER 21ST, 6:15pm: The Rockets formally announced the signings of Cummings, Livingston and Walker (Twitter link). Houston waived Yusuf on Friday without ever formally recognizing his signing.

SEPTEMBER 9TH, 6:59pm: Walker has officially been signed, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link).

SEPTEMBER 5TH, 8:10am: Cummings and Livingston have signed contracts with the Rockets, according to the transactions log.

12:09pm: The signing of Yusuf has taken place, and it’s a non-guaranteed contract worth the rookie minimum salary, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). That means it wouldn’t count against the hard cap the Rockets would impose upon themselves if they signed No. 32 pick Montrezl Harrell for more than the minimum or for longer than two years, as I explained earlier.

11:24am: Feigen has corrected his earlier report, omitting Wood’s name from his revised list (Twitter links). Wood’s status with the Rockets thus appears unclear.

SEPTEMBER 3RD, 11:00am: The Rockets are close to signing Denzel Livingston, Will Cummings, Christian Wood, Remi Yusuf and Chris Walker for training camp, a source tells Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). A deal with Wood, who went undrafted out of UNLV this year, has apparently been in place since June Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported that the Rockets had agreed to sign him, but the other four names appear to be new additions for Houston.

Livingston, a 6’4″ combo guard who played his college ball at Incarnate Word, also went undrafted this year. He saw a smidgen of playing time with Houston’s summer league squad, averaging 2.0 points in 7.5 minutes per contest across three appearances. Cummings, a point guard from Temple, was another college senior passed up in the draft this June. He saw more extensive time for the Rockets in summer league, compiling 10.0 PPG in 22.8 MPG, though his 3.3 assists against 2.8 turnovers per game isn’t an encouraging ratio.

Walker, a once-heralded prospect whose stock plummeted at Florida, put up 4.2 PPG in 8.8 MPG for the summer Rockets. The forward/center declared for this year’s draft after his sophomore season with the Gators. Yusuf is a somewhat more surprising addition, since he didn’t play NBA summer league ball. The guard, a native of Nigeria, played at Texas A&M-Kingsville before going undrafted in 2006, and he spent time last season playing with SKP Banska Bystrica in Slovakia.

Western Notes: Divac, Grizzlies, Pack

One of the strangest aspects of the Kings‘ hiring of Vlade Divac as the team’s president of basketball and franchise operations is that no one but Divac and team owner Vivek Ranadive actually understood he’d be in a powerful basketball operations position until a few days after the announcement, Tom Ziller of SBNation writes. It was assumed that because Divac had extremely limited prior front office experience, he would be more of a figurehead than being actively involved in personnel decisions, Ziller notes. There were even members of Sacramento’s front office who didn’t realize that Divac had the power to make personnel moves until Divac and Randive relayed that information to the media, the SBNation scribe adds.

Here’s more out of the Western Conference:

  • The Grizzlies have workouts scheduled on Sunday for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Arizona), Cady Lalanne (Massachusetts), Denzel Livingston (Incarnate Word), Norman Powell (UCLA), J.P. Tokoto (North Carolina), and Maurice Walker (Minnesota), the team announced via a press release.
  • The Nuggets are expected to work out Murray State point guard Cameron Payne, who is rocketing up draft boards, this Monday, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post tweets.
  • Robert Pack has signed on to be an assistant on the staff of new Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reports (Twitter link).
  • Working out for the Suns today were Bryce Dejean-Jones (Iowa State), Mouhammadou Jaiteh (France), Derrick Marks (Boise State), Michael Qualls (Arkansas), Chasson Randle (Stanford), and TaShawn Thomas (Oklahoma), Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic notes (Twitter links). Qualls suffered an undisclosed injury during the workout, Coro relays, and was replaced by Polish guard Mateusz Ponitka.
  • The Kings have added John Welch and Chad Iske as assistants on George Karl‘s coaching staff, Spears reports (on Twitter). Both men were previously with Karl when he coached in Denver, Spears adds.

Southwest Notes: Gasol, Calathes, Draft

One comment that Marc Gasol made to Spanish media should be encouraging for the Grizzlies, while another appears to fuel Spurs hope. Gasol said that he hasn’t thought about changing teams and once more cited his deep roots in Memphis, according to Adriano Correal of Gigantes del Basket (translation via HoopsHype). Still, he called the Spurs a model franchise and expressed his admiration of Tim Duncan, as Abraham Romero of Diario As passes along (translation via Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News). The Spurs are the team the Grizzlies fear the most among Gasol’s suitors, as Marc Stein of recently reported. Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Nick Calathes told Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype that his primary goal is to remain in the NBA and denied a report from Javier Maestro of that he wanted to leave the NBA and that his camp had offered his services to Barcelona of Spain (translation via HoopsHype). Calathes, whose contract with Memphis expires at the end of next month, is nonetheless expected to draw pursuit from several European teams, according to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia, who says the 26-year-old stands to make more money overseas than he would remaining in the NBA. The Grizzlies can match competing NBA bids for him if they tender a qualifying offer worth more than $1.147MM.
  • The Mavs on Wednesday were set to work out Florida shooting guard Michael Frazier, Villanova small forward Darrun Hilliard, Nebraska swingman Terran Petteway, Arkansas shooting guard Michael Qualls, Baylor small forward Royce O’Neale and Incarnate Word combo guard Denzel Livingston, a source told Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops (Twitter link).
  • Terrence Jones questioned whether he would ever play again after suffering a nerve injury earlier this season that knocked him out for nearly three months, so he’s not too upset that the Rockets benched him during the playoffs, as Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle examines. Jones is eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer.

Northwest Notes: Singler, Donovan, Draft, Gee

Thunder GM Sam Presti reiterated that the Thunder are committed to re-signing Enes Kanter and hope to do so with Kyle Singler as well, pointing to Singler’s shooting, versatility and height in an email interview with Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman. Presti also told Mayberry that he sought input from Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and other Thunder players about the qualities they’d like to see in a coach even though he found it unwise to discuss specific candidates for the team’s coaching vacancy, which he filled with Billy Donovan. Here’s more from around the Northwest Division:

  • Incarnate Word combo guard Denzel Livingston, Ohio power forward Maurice Ndour, Penn State shooting guard D.J. Newbill, Illinois shooting guard Rayvonte Rice and TCU shooting guard Trey Zeigler are scheduled to work out for the Jazz today, the team announced (Twitter link). Michigan State swingman Russell Byrd will join them, as Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops reported Tuesday.
  • It’s not out of the question that the Trail Blazers will re-sign Alonzo Gee this summer, but it’s doubtful, writes Jabari Young of, speculating that the Hawks, Spurs and Jazz might be decent bets to sign him instead. Gee remained on an NBA roster all season after signing a non-guaranteed minimum-salary contract the Nuggets, who traded him to the Blazers in the Arron Afflalo deal.
  • The Timberwolves made a “colossal blunder” not once but twice in the 2009 draft when they passed over MVP Stephen Curry for point guards Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn, as Michael Rand of the Star Tribune examines.