Dereck Lively

Southwest Notes: Z. Williams, Adams, Mavs, Vassell

Following a promising rookie season in 2021/22, Ziaire Williams battled injuries and was limited to just 37 games in ’22/23 — and he was inconsistent when he did play, with his shooting percentages dropping across the board. That down year would seemingly make him a long shot to crack the Grizzlies‘ starting five this fall, but he’s making a case for that open lineup spot with his defensive play in training camp, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

“I talked to him after practice about how he’s doing a great job in situations using his length, using his mobility,” head coach Taylor Jenkins said earlier this week. “His attention to detail has been spot-on right now defensively.”

According to Cole, making an All-Defensive team and being named Most Improved Player are among Williams’ lofty goals for the season. While those accolades may ultimately prove out of reach, he’s determined to avoid a repeat of last season, telling reporters that he worked hard this summer and is now stronger and weighs more than at any other time in his playing career.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Coming off a right knee injury, Grizzlies center Steven Adams was a full participant in scrimmages on Thursday and showed no ill effects of his long recovery process, per Cole of The Commercial Appeal. “He’s looked great,” teammate Luke Kennard said. “He’s done everything. Every drill, all the scrimmages and he’s been dominant down low. He looks good to me.”
  • Although Jason Kidd has trended to trust veterans over young players in the past, Tim Cato of The Athletic believes the Mavericks‘ head coach may have a longer leash with Dereck Lively II and Olivier-Maxence Prosper, two defensive-minded rookies who will know not to try to do too much on offense.
  • Devin Vassell isn’t a perfect player, but based on the improvements he has made since entering the league and the rising NBA salary cap, he’s worth the five-year, $135MM+ contract extension the Spurs signed him to this week, says Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. As Vecenie points out, by the end of the deal, Vecenie should be earning approximately 15% of the cap, which is about what players like Myles Turner, Bruce Brown, and Mikal Bridges are currently making.

Mavericks Notes: Hardaway, Lively, Williams, Exum

Tim Hardaway Jr. doesn’t mind being used in a reserve role, but he wasn’t aware that was Jason Kidd’s plan before the Mavericks coach explained it on a radio show, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.

Appearing on Saturday Stein Line with Marc Stein, Kidd said Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and Grant Williams are the definite members of his starting five, with camp competitions to decide the starters at center and small forward. Kidd views Hardaway as the potential leader of his bench unit.

“I’m excited again for Timmy, looking to talk to him about being Sixth Man of the Year,” Kidd said. “That would help our team, put us in a really good seat if he’s up for Sixth Man of the Year. And I think he’s capable of doing that.”

Hardaway has been a part-time starter during most of his time in Dallas and started 45 of the 71 games he played last season, so he’s familiar with either role. He’s willing to do whatever Kidd asks, but he said at Friday’s media day that he and his coach haven’t talked about it.

“You guys heard it first from him,” Hardaway said. “I’m a hybrid, I guess, at this point in my career. Whether I start or come off the bench, I’m not going to be the one to have an ego or anything like that because it doesn’t get you anywhere. I want to win ballgames, just like the rest of the guys on this team. Any other thought is kind of a waste of energy.”

There’s more from Dallas:

  • Rookie center Dereck Lively II is already making a strong impression and will contend for a starting job in camp, Townsend adds. “He’s taken a big, big jump for us here late, being able to play with Luka in the pickup games,” Kidd said. “There’s some excitement between those two.”
  • The Mavericks are still getting used to Williams, who was known for being extremely vocal on the court during his time with the Celtics. Dallas targeted the free agent forward to bring that same energy and a defensive presence to his new team. “I think Grant is a good leader too, he talks a lot,” Doncic told reporters at media day (video link). “Sometimes too much.”
  • Dante Exum plans to return to Partizan Belgrade if he ever plays in Europe again, according to Eurohoops. Exum signed a two-year, $6.15MM contract with the Mavericks this summer that is non-guaranteed for the second season. “Let me say right now, if I ever return to Europe, Partizan is the first option, and probably the only one,” Exum told Mozzart Sport.

Stein’s Latest: Lillard, Raptors, Hield, Lively, Howard

There’s a growing belief around the league that the Raptors have legitimate interest in trading for Damian Lillard, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack column (subscription required).

There has been skepticism over Toronto’s desire to make a deal, Stein adds, considering that the front office hasn’t been active even though trade rumors have been swirling around the team since January, particularly regarding Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby. He notes that any remaining uncertainty is related to Lillard’s strong preference for Miami over every other market.

Stein compares the Lillard situation to the Raptors’ pursuit of Kawhi Leonard five years ago. Unlike Leonard, who was entering the final year of his contract, Lillard is signed for four more years and is owed nearly $220MM. Toronto also doesn’t have the foundation in place to compete for a title with one more big move, the way it did when it traded for Leonard.

Stein believes the Trail Blazers would prefer to wrap up the summer-long Lillard saga before the team’s media day next Monday. However, negotiations with the Heat are on hold as they and many other teams around the league think about preserving their assets for a potential run at Giannis Antetokounmpo or any other star who might become available.

Portland doesn’t want to part with Lillard for less than his market value, Stein adds, but the alternative is to deal with the distractions that will come with keeping him for training camp and beyond.

Stein shares more inside information from around the league:

  • Several NBA executives disagree with Stein’s statement on his radio show that the Pacers can get a future first-round pick for Buddy Hield. Stein says he talked to several front office people who believe Hield’s expiring $19.3MM contract will limit his trade value because of the uncertainty about re-signing him. They see his ceiling as multiple second-rounders.
  • Appearing on Stein’s show, Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said rookie center Dereck Lively II will get an opportunity to win a starting job in training camp. Stein notes that Dallas pursued the Hawks’ Clint Capela and the Suns’ Deandre Ayton during the offseason, but wasn’t able to work out a deal for a veteran big man. Christian Wood left in free agency and JaVale McGee was waived, leaving Dwight Powell as the only incumbent center on the roster. Richaun Holmes was acquired in a draft night trade, and Maxi Kleber may see time as a small-ball five.
  • Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and Grant Williams are the Mavericks‘ only definite starters heading into camp, added Kidd, who said first-round pick Olivier-Maxence Prosper will also compete for a starting job. “I look for those rookies to play a lot this season,” Kidd told Stein. “They’re going to be a part of our fabric.”
  • Dwight Howard‘s interview with the Warriors last week wasn’t the first time he has thought about joining the team. Stein recalls that Golden State wanted to sign Howard when he became a free agent in 2013, and he even worked out that summer with Stephen Curry, but he chose the Rockets instead.

Southwest Notes: Capela, Mavericks, Cissoko, Grizzlies

The Mavericks are still in the market for a veteran center and would like to acquire Clint Capela from the Hawks as the third team in a potential Pascal Siakam deal, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack column.

Atlanta has been pursuing the Toronto forward in trade talks, but an offer centered around De’Andre Hunter may not be enough. The Hawks could be willing to include Capela, who has two years left on his contract at a total of about $43MM, but the Raptors don’t need another high-priced center after re-signing Jakob Poeltl. Stein suggests that Dallas could either try to facilitate the deal or work out a separate trade with Toronto involving Capela.

The Mavs attempted to acquire Capela from the Hawks in June, according to Stein, but they refused to part with Josh Green along with the 10th pick in the draft.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Summer League coach Jared Dudley was impressed with both of the Mavericks‘ rookies, grading Dereck Lively II a “seven out of 10” and Olivier-Maxence Prosper a “nine out of 10,” per Eddie Sefko of “Lively will get there. He has potential. He’s going to be the starting center of the Mavericks one day,” Dudley said. “O-Max is right there. The three-and-D guys, it’s easier to transition. Offense, he’s a bull going at you. He has to work on his decision-making a little when he gets in the paint. But myself and the Dallas Mavericks are happy with what they did.”
  • Spurs rookie Sidy Cissoko‘s ability to attack the basket has stood out during Summer League, observes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. The French forward prepared for the NBA by spending last season in the G League. “I didn’t change my game,” he said. “In my (pre-draft) workouts, I was doing the same thing almost every time. I have this in my game, so I just repeat it over and over. If it is still working, I will not change it.”
  • Jake LaRavia, David Roddy and Ziaire Williams are all possibilities to be the Grizzlies‘ starting small forward when the season begins, according to Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal. Memphis didn’t bring in anyone to replace Dillon Brooks after he signed with Houston, so there’s not an obvious choice for the position. Cole adds that once Ja Morant returns from his suspension, he may start alongside Marcus Smart in the backcourt with Desmond Bane sliding to small forward.

Mavericks Sign Dereck Lively II To Rookie Contract

Dereck Lively II has inked his rookie scale contract with the Mavericks, the team announced along with a video of the signing.

As the 12th pick in this year’s draft, Lively is eligible to receive $4,775,640 in his first season and can make $22,282,690 over the four-year contract, as our breakdown of rookie scale salaries shows.

The Duke center took advantage of a strong showing during the pre-draft process to rise up draft boards. Dallas had considered taking him at No. 10, but was able to trade down two spots and still get its preferred selection.

That trade sent Davis Bertans into Oklahoma City’s cap room, so it couldn’t be completed until after the July moratorium, which likely delayed Lively’s signing by a few days.

Lively was one of the top recruits out of high school last year, but injuries slowed him down during his lone season at Duke. He earned spots on the ACC’s All-Freshman and All-Defensive teams while averaging 5.4 points and 5.0 rebounds in 32 games.

Dallas’ No. 24 overall pick, Olivier-Maxence Prosper, is one of three first-rounders who have yet to officially sign their rookie contracts.

Mavericks Trade Davis Bertans, Cason Wallace To Thunder

JULY 6: The Mavericks have officially acquired Lively’s rights in exchange for Bertans and the rights to Wallace, the team announced today (via Twitter).

JUNE 22: The Mavericks and Thunder have agreed to a trade, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that Davis Bertans and the No. 10 pick are headed to Oklahoma City in exchange for the No. 12 pick.

The Thunder selected Kentucky guard Cason Wallace at No. 10, Charania adds, while Dallas will get off Bertans’ pricey multiyear contract. The No. 12 pick that Dallas acquired was used on Duke big man Dereck Lively II, Shams Charania of The Stadium tweets.

The Mavericks will generate a $17MM trade exception with this trade, according to Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype (Twitter link). They’ll now be approximately $74MM under to projected luxury tax line, which will help them make other moves, such as re-signing Kyrie Irving.

[UPDATE: Mavs to use trade exception to acquire Richaun Holmes]

The Mavs were looking to move down in the lottery, get off a bad contract and acquire a veteran starter, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link). They accomplished the first two goals with this deal. They also add a promising young rim protector in Lively, who will fill a hole in the Dallas frontcourt with the team considered unlikely to re-sign big man Christian Wood.

Bertans had a career year in 2019/20 with the Wizards and cashed in with a five-year, $80MM deal. Dallas acquired Bertans as part of the Kristaps Porzingis trade with Washington.

The Thunder now pick up the two remaining years left on his deal — $17MM next season and $16MM in 2024/25 with an early termination option. The final year is only partially guaranteed for $5MM.

Oklahoma City’s desire to move up was motivated by the concern that another team might jump the Thunder by making a trade with Orlando, which held the No. 11 pick, Jeremy Woo of ESPN tweets. The Raptors, who held the No. 13 selection, were a potential trade-up suitor for Wallace.

Northwest Notes: Lillard, Holmgren, Micic, Edwards

Since Damian Lillard made his trade request on Saturday, it has been made clear by various reporters that he’s focused on landing with the Heat, but that the Trail Blazers don’t seem overly enthusiastic about what Miami can offer. The belief is that if the Blazers are going to make a deal with Miami, they would want to involve a third team in order to secure more assets that appeal to them, likely in place of Tyler Herro, who would be redundant in Portland’s crowded backcourt.

In an ESPN appearance (YouTube link), Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed that the Blazers are “not impressed” by the assets that the Heat have to offer, adding that Portland has been fielding calls from various teams around the NBA who are inquiring to see what it might take to land Lillard. While the Blazers could potentially get a stronger package from another team, it also remains to be seen how the star guard might respond if he’s sent somewhere he doesn’t want to be, which may give suitors outside of Miami pause about putting their best assets on the table.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter video link), the Blazers have explored multi-team trade scenarios that would send Lillard to the Heat and net Portland more draft assets than Miami has to offer directly.

“There are three- or four-team scenarios in a potential deal with the Heat that would potentially net the Blazers several first-round draft picks,” Charania said during an appearance on The Rally.

While Charania didn’t offer any further details, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report tries his hand at putting together some hypothetical multi-team Lillard deals that he believes are at least somewhat plausible.

As we await more signs of forward progress in the Lillard talks, here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • After missing his entire rookie season due to a Lisfranc injury in his right foot, Thunder big man Chet Holmgren made his 2023 Summer League debut in Salt Lake City on Monday. As Tim MacMahon of ESPN writes, last year’s No. 2 overall pick looked a little rusty, but ended up with 15 points, nine rebounds, and four blocks — more importantly, the foot felt “great,” according to Holmgren. “It’s like the injury never happened, other than everything I had to go through obviously,” he said. “But at this point, if you erased my memory, I wouldn’t know that anything had happened to my foot other than the scars from surgery.”
  • Numerous EuroLeague veterans have flopped in the NBA, but Vasilije Micic will try to buck that trend with the Thunder, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman writes. Only 10 Europeans have debuted in the NBA at age 29 or older and a majority had limited success. Micic agreed to a three-year, $23.5MM contract over the weekend.
  • With Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards set to sign a massive new maximum-salary extension, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic takes a look at some of the on- and off-court responsibilities that will come with Edwards’ new deal.

Draft Rumors: Miller, Hornets, Blazers, Pacers, Magic, More

The Hornets appear to be leaning toward selecting Alabama’s Brandon Miller with the second overall pick in tomorrow night’s draft, according to reports from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link via ClutchPoints), Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link), Jeremy Woo of ESPN (Insider link) and Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

Wojnarowski, Givony, and Woo have all heard from sources who say Miller performed much better in his second workout on Monday in front of Hornets brass, including owner Michael Jordan. Wojnarowski goes so far as to say Miller “further solidified his standing as Charlotte’s choice at No. 2.”

For his part, Miller said in a SiriusXM NBA Radio interview (Twitter video link) that he didn’t feel intimidated by working out in front of Jordan, noting that he didn’t grow up watching the Hall of Famer. He also said he had a “fun time” exchanging verbal jabs with Jordan.

Here are more rumors on the draft, which is less than 24 hours away:

  • It would take a “significant return” for the Trail Blazers to part with the No. 3 pick in a draft that many view as having a consensus top-three prospects, but they’ll continue to listen to offers up until it’s time to make a selection, Wojnarowski said on ESPN’s NBA Today (YouTube link). “Certainly, they want to build around Damian Lillard, Wojnarowski said, per RealGM. “That’s been their focus. Damian Lillard says he wants to continue to be in Portland. So I think they’ll go right up to the clock on Thursday night. Offers and outreach from teams tend to get more serious the closer you get to the deadline…Portland may not have gotten the best offers that will come to them, but they will here in the next 24 hours or so. This is a significant decision for this organization, for Damian Lillard’s future in Portland.” If Miller gets picked No. 2, the Blazers would almost certainly select Scoot Henderson, Woj added.
  • Fischer confirms a recent report that the Spurs are inquiring about adding a second lottery pick and have been linked to French wing Bilal Coulibaly, who played with projected No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama on Metropolitans 92. Interestingly, sources tell Woo that Coulibaly hasn’t unilaterally granted access to his medical details, indicating he may have a preferred destination in mind.
  • Cam Whitmore‘s stock may be falling due to medical concerns, sources tell Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report, who has Whitmore going No. 9 to the Jazz in his latest mock draft. Whitmore had been viewed as an option for the Rockets (No. 4) or Pistons (No. 5).
  • Although Ausar Thompson canceled a workout with the Pacers (No. 7) last week, he still had a meeting with team officials, he told Fischer. Indiana sent a “select group” of personnel to Atlanta to meet with Thompson over the weekend, Fischer writes.
  • Anthony Black‘s camp “initially showed resistance” to the idea of working out for Orlando due to the Magic‘s guard depth, sources tell Fischer. However, he wound up leaving a strong impression on the team and now thinks he could be picked No. 6 overall, he told Fischer. If the Magic do pick a guard, they’ve given rivals the impression they’d consider trading Cole Anthony, who has a “great relationship” with the front office, or Jalen Suggs. “They didn’t tell me that,” Black said, “but that’s what I figured they’d do if they picked me.”
  • The Lakers have been exploring all kinds of options with their first-round pick (No. 17), including possibly moving up a few slots, Fischer writes. Keyonte George could be a target — the guard has also been linked to the Raptors at No. 13, per Fischer.
  • According to Fischer, Jarace Walker believes he could go as high as No. 5 (Pistons), with a floor possibly being Indiana (No. 7); Taylor Hendricks believes he could go anywhere from No. 5 to No. 12 (Thunder); and Dereck Lively II has been told he could be picked anywhere from No. 10 (Dallas) to No. 20 (Houston).

Trade Rumors: Lakers, Kuminga, Nets, LaVine, Raptors

There has been growing buzz in recent days that the Lakers are increasingly more likely to trade their first-round pick (No. 17) than to keep it, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic. In his latest story, Buha explores all the possibilities in play for Los Angeles, including hanging onto the pick, trading out of the draft, or trading down.

As Buha writes, the idea of the Lakers packaging the No. 17 pick with Malik Beasley ($16.5MM team option) and/or Mohamed Bamba ($10.3MM) to acquire a starter-caliber player appears more viable than ever. League sources say that Pacers center Myles Turner and sharpshooter Buddy Hield, Nets wings Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale, and Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr. are among the players who have been linked to the Lakers.

While it sounds less likely than trading down or out of the draft, Buha says the Lakers have at least considered the possibility of trying to move up from No. 17. Dereck Lively and Kobe Bufkin are among the prospects the club likes, a source tells The Athletic.

Here are more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • Addressing a report from last week that suggested the Warriors have explored moving up in the draft using Jonathan Kuminga, Anthony Slater of The Athletic provides some additional context, writing that rumor stemmed from an inbound call from a lottery team that has long been interested in Kuminga. Multiple sources tell Slater that Golden State isn’t shopping the young forward.
  • While the lottery team that called the Warriors about Kuminga is unknown, it’s worth noting that Slater uses the Pacers as an example in his discussion of that scenario. Additionally, when ESPN updated its mock draft on Wednesday (subscription required), Jonathan Givony added Kuminga to the list of forwards the Pacers may explore acquiring via trade.
  • In the latest episode of The Lowe Post podcast (YouTube link), ESPN’s Zach Lowe said the Nets‘ asking prices for forwards Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale have been high. Brooklyn is seeking “real first-round pick equity” for those players, not just looking to move up a few spots in the draft, according to Lowe.
  • Despite reports that they’re gauging his trade market, the Bulls continue to value Zach LaVine very highly, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, who hears from one league source that the team would seek a good young player, multiple first-round picks, and salary filler if LaVine is moved. Another league source thinks a single first-rounder might be sufficient if the Bulls could get an “established, high-end” player back.
  • Toronto has been involved in a series of trade rumors so far this offseason, but a pair of sources who spoke to Michael Grange of indicated that they wouldn’t be surprised if the Raptors don’t do anything drastic. “What I’m hearing now is they’re not going to trade from their core,” one source told Grange.

Stein’s Latest: Pacers, Barnes, Anunoby, Hawks, Lively, Beal

If the Pacers aren’t able to trade for a starting-caliber forward, either using the No. 7 pick or other assets, they’re expected to turn to free agency in an effort to land that sort of player, Marc Stein writes at Substack.

One player Indiana has some interest in, league sources tell Stein, is Kings forward Harrison Barnes, who will be an unrestricted free agent next week. As Stein points out, Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle coached Barnes in Dallas, while point guard Tyrese Haliburton played with the veteran in Sacramento, so Barnes certainly has fans within the organization.

Stein classifies Barnes as a “strong” candidate to change teams this offseason, though he hears from one source that a return to the Kings hasn’t been ruled out.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • A team with interest in acquiring OG Anunoby described the Raptors‘ feelings about trading him as “strong reluctance,” Stein writes. While Anunoby has no shortage of potential suitors – including teams like Indiana, Portland, Memphis, and Sacramento – Stein says the early signals suggest the Raptors may end up once again holding onto him, like they did at the trade deadline.
  • The Hawks are “known to be interested” in Duke big man Dereck Lively and have spoken to Dallas about trades involving the No. 10 pick, according to Stein. While Stein doesn’t go into detail about how the possibility of Atlanta landing Lively would affect the team’s current big men, such as center Clint Capela, that frontcourt would be getting awfully crowded.
  • A veteran personnel executive tells Stein that Bradley Beal getting to be the third option with the Suns should “suit him very well.” Beal was probably miscast as a franchise player in Washington, but made a career-best 50.6% of his shots this past season as he increasingly shared the scoring load with Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma while his shot attempts per game dipped to 17.6 (his lowest mark since 2016/17).