Henry Walker

Henry Walker Signs Overseas Deal

Five-year NBA veteran Henry Walker has signed with Cedevita Zagreb of the Croatian League, international journalist David Pick reports (Twitter link). The deal covers the 2015/16 campaign, and the contract does include an NBA out clause, Pick notes.

Walker, 28, appeared in 24 games with the Heat last season, averaging 7.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 26.2 minutes per contest. His career numbers are 6.0 PPG and 2.2 RPG to accompany a slash line of .446/.369/.760. The swingman had joined Miami on a pair of 10-day contracts that led to a deal for the rest of the 2014/15 season, with a non-guaranteed salary for the 2015/16 campaign included in that pact. Miami released him back in July, and it was reported that the Blazers had interest in Walker, but no NBA deal materialized for the player.

The small forward had agreed to a deal to join the fledgling Amerileague back in October, but that was before the league’s CEO, Cerruti Brown, was outed for using a fictitious name and was revealed to be Glendon Alexander, a former McDonald’s All-American with multiple fraud convictions.

And-Ones: Amerileague, Fredette, Draft, Coaches

The viability of the Amerileague plunged further into question Wednesday as a former spokesperson for the league revealed to freelance journalist Erin Ashley Simon that the league’s CEO was using a fictitious name and is actually Glendon Alexander, a former McDonald’s All-American with multiple fraud convictions. Amerileague operations manager Marcus Bass confirmed the news to Jeff Goodman and Paula Lavigne of ESPN’s Outside the Lines. Alexander has resigned as CEO, reports Adam Johnson of D-League Digest (Twitter link), ending a trail of suspicion about his involvement that Kami Mattioli of The Sporting News first detailed in May. Henry Walker recently became the first player who appeared in the NBA during the 2014/15 season to sign with the Amerileague, but Walker’s agent, Mike Naiditch, tells Hoops Rumors that, “If there was never a league, then [there] was never a deal.” 

The Amerileague draft was to take place today, but Bass tells Johnson that the event is on hold (Twitter link). See more from around basketball:

  • An unwillingness to adjust his freewheeling college game to the NBA style of play led to Jimmer Fredette‘s lack of success in the league, one of his former NBA assistant asserts to Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports. The Spurs waived Fredette on Wednesday, though four other NBA teams still reportedly have some level of interest in him.
  • Vanderbilt junior center/forward Damian Jones says he plans to enter the 2016 draft, as Adam Sparks of The Tennessean relays. Chad Ford of ESPN.com ranks the 6’10” Jones as the 14th-best draft prospect, while Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress has him at No. 16.
  • Hawks assistant Kenny Atkinson, Magic assistant Adrian Griffin and Pelicans assistant Darren Erman are future head coaching candidates to watch, according to Chris Mannix of SI.comHeat assistant David Fizdale draws an honorable mention on Mannix’s list.

Henry Walker Signs With Amerileague

Five-year NBA veteran Henry Walker has signed with the Amerileague, the league announced (hat tip to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders). It’s a milestone of sorts for the six-team startup minor league, as Walker is the first of its signees who saw regular season action in the NBA last season. Walker, Josh Selby, Terrence Williams, Dajuan Wagner, Royce White, David Harrison and Antoine Wright are among those with NBA experience in the more distant past to join the Amerileague, Kennedy notes (Twitter link). Walker, who turned 28 last week, started 13 times in his 24-game stint with the Heat last season.

Walker joined Miami on a pair of 10-day contracts that led to a deal for the rest of the season with a non-guaranteed 2015/16 included. It was his first time back in the NBA since 2011/12, and the Mike Naiditch client made the most of it, as his 26.2 minutes per game for the Heat were a career high. Miami nonetheless released him in July, but Sam Amico reported soon after for Hoops Rumors that the Blazers had interest in the swingman.

The Amerileague is reportedly handing out salaries worth up to as much as $50K per month, about twice what the most well-compensated D-League players make. It’s not immediately clear if Walker will see that sort of money, but those salaries make the Amerileague more competitive with European teams. That helps explain why veterans like Walker are joining. The D-League has instead largely been the purview of younger, less-experienced players willing to sacrifice money for a chance to play with NBA-affiliated organizations.

Do you think the Amerileague will last for the long term as a legitimate minor league? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

Column: Indiana Ready To Move At Different Pace

Sam Amico, the founder and editor of AmicoHoops.net and a broadcast journalist for Fox Sports Ohio, will write a weekly feature for Hoops Rumors with news, rumors and insight from around the NBA. We’re excited to present the first installment here:

It should be an interesting season for the Indiana Pacers.

Two years ago, the Pacers were a real contender. They lost to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals but appeared to be on the brink of very good things. They were making major strides, seemingly a franchise that would soon get over the hump.

Then Lance Stephenson left in free agency.

Then Paul George suffered a horrific leg injury while playing an exhibition with Team USA.

Then the Pacers suddenly became a middle-of-the-road club, fighting to make the playoffs, but not quite good enough to get in.

So president of basketball operations and basketball icon Larry Bird decided to give them a bit of a makeover. Bird and coach Frank Vogel aimed to get the Pacers to move at a quicker, well, pace. They want to push the ball, force the tempo, and move away from the smash-mouth style of the previous five or six years.

That style worked well for the Pacers — but it truly was an elbows-out, feet-on-the-floor type of game and it only carried them so far.

So plodding 7’2″ center Roy Hibbert was shipped off to the Lakers (for virtually nothing), aging power forward David West left for San Antonio, and Bird suddenly started talking about the possibility of George, a swingman by trade, playing some power forward.

(As an aside, when George hinted he may be less than thrilled with the position change, Bird uttered a line only a man with his credentials can utter. “He don’t make the decisions around here,” Bird said, drawing laughter.)

Either way, the Pacers will be playing an entirely different style — and they believe that with the addition of a healthy George and free agent signees Monta Ellis and Jordan Hill, they are ready for take-off.

Bird and Vogel also seem especially excited about rookie lottery pick Myles Turner, a big man with a perimeter game, and even Joseph Young, a push-it-up and fill-it-up combo guard drafted in the second round.

Also, even after the signing of Glenn Robinson III, the Pacers may still have a few minor moves in the works.

Right now, Turner is likely the starting center, with Hill and George in the frontcourt, and George Hill and Ellis at guard. Word is, Bird wants another experienced big, and someone such as Carlos Boozer may eventually come cheap.

But no matter who comes and goes, it’s clear that Bird, his front office team and coaching staff are taking a different approach to finding success. And with good health and smooth adaptation to a new playing style, the Pacers just may be on to something.

Around the NBA

1. Several league execs have said this could be a breakout season for Perry Jones III, a fourth-year forward who was recently traded from Oklahoma City to Boston. “I’m just happy to have a fresh start,” Jones told the media Monday, including Jay King of MassLive.com (Twitter link). “It’s something that I needed.”

2. Since last season, the Celtics have added David Lee, Amir Johnson, Jones and draft picks Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter. “It feels like we’ve taken a step forward in this offseason by adding these guys and our draft picks,” owner Wyc Grousbeck told reporters Monday, including Ben Rohrbach of WEEI.com (Twitter link).

3. One untrue rumor making rounds is J.R. Smith to the Lakers. But Smith is considerably more likely to return to the Cavs than go anywhere else. And the Lakers aren’t interested. A deal between the Cavs and Smith could be finalized within the next seven to 10 days.

4. Tayshaun Prince and the recently released Henry Walker are both drawing interest from Portland.

Heat Rumors: Ennis, Richardson, Johnson

James Ennis‘ contract will be fully guaranteed if he makes the opening day roster in an amended agreement between the Heat and his agent, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). Ennis, who is represented by Scott Nichols of Rize Management, was originally scheduled to have half of his $845,059 salary guaranteed on August 1st. That partial guarantee is no longer in effect. The approach regarding Ennis’ guarantee has yet to be finalized but both sides apparently agree he will remain non-guaranteed for near future, according to Ira Winderman of the Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter link). The Heat will thus retain his rights through training camp, Winderman adds in another tweet. This gives the team a chance to evaluate him in camp before making any financial commitment, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets.
In other news concerning the Heat:
  • They plan to make an offer to No. 40 overall pick Josh Richardson soon, according to Jackson. The shooting guard from Tennessee will likely see a multiyear offer with partial guarantees similar to the deal that Ennis signed with Miami last year, tweets Winderman.
  • Miami didn’t signal the likelihood or lack thereof that it would offer Henry Walker a chance to re-sign with the team, but their parting today was “amicable,” agent Mike Naiditch told Jackson for the same piece.
  • Tyler Johnson‘s 50% contract guarantee will be picked up by Saturday’s deadline, according to Winderman (Twitter link). That would mean Johnson will receive at least $422,530 this coming season.
  • Team president Pat Riley and point guard Goran Dragic have collectively decided that Dragic won’t play for Slovenia this summer, Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press tweets.

Heat Waive Henry Walker

1:37pm: The move is official, the team announced.

1:14pm: The Heat plan to waive Henry Walker today, league sources tell Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link). A reunion is nonetheless possible should he clear waivers, Charania adds. His salary is to become guaranteed if he remains under his existing contract through Saturday, as our schedule of salary guarantee dates shows. The move would be no surprise, as the forward’s release had been a matter of speculation. Miami has let Walker know that he’ll go on waivers, tweets Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

Walker first joined the Heat on a 10-day contract in February, later signing another 10-day deal before finally inking a deal that covered the rest of the season plus a non-guaranteed 2015/16 salary. He saw his first regular season NBA action since 2011/12 in his time with the Heat, averaging 7.3 points and 3.4 rebounds in 26.2 minutes per game with 34.1% three-point shooting across 24 appearances. The Mike Naiditch client made 13 starts, an uncommonly high number for a late-season pickup, yet it apparently wasn’t enough to ensure his place on the roster for this coming season.

The release of Walker would take Miami down to 14 players, leaving a spot for the team to sign shooting guard Josh Richardson, this year’s No. 40 overall pick, whom the Heat have been trying to clear room for. Miami only has to carry 13 players into the regular season, but the Heat are still reportedly trying to trade Mario Chalmers. Regardless, subtracting Walker would keep $100K from the Heat’s books, a number that would be multiplied many times over if the Heat don’t end up below the $84.74MM tax threshold by season’s end. Miami currently has about $89.2MM in guaranteed salary on its books.

Do you think that Walker will stick in the NBA this time? Leave a comment to let us know.

Southeast Notes: Carroll, Wittman, Walker

Soon-to-be free agent DeMarre Carroll has benefited from Atlanta’s focus on player development and from playing almost exclusively at small forward, SB Nation’s Paul Flannery details. Some numbers suggest that Carroll, who’s exceeded the team’s expectations on his two-year deal, has been the most important player for the Hawks in their series against the Nets, Flannery points out.

“Player development is big in this league,” Carroll said. “When coaches take time to work kids on their player development, they can succeed. It’s about opportunity and player development. That’s what I believe.” 

Atlanta will have Carroll’s Early Bird rights this summer, as we explained. Here’s more from around the Southeast Division:

  • Randy Wittman‘s job has never been in jeopardy this season, even when the Wizards lost back-to-back games to the Timberwolves and Sixers, according to J. Michael of CSNWashington.com, and the Wizards coach looked shrewd in the team’s sweep of the Raptors, as Michael details. Marc Stein of ESPN.com wrote shortly after those losses that while Wittman’s job wasn’t in immediate danger, there was increasing pressure on him and others within the organization.
  • Henry Walker faces a stiff challenge to remain with the Heat into next season on his non-guaranteed deal, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he was an obvious choice when the team sought a midseason addition this year, as Surya Fernandez of Fox Sports Florida relays.
  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel believes the Heat should avoid their pattern of reuniting with their former players when it comes to Dorell Wright, who will become a free agent when his contract with the Blazers expires at the end of June.

Southeast Notes: Magic, Harris, Heat

The Magic made some positive strides this season and have a solid young core in place for the future, Kyle Hightower of The Associated Press writes. When discussing what would need to be altered to make the team a contender, GM Rob Hennigan said, “Our focus is on getting better. We want to be a playoff team. We’re not trying to be a lottery team — that’s counter to our goals. This season has been frustrating. It has, I think if you ask our players, our coaches, myself— we expect more. We’re also realistic about how young we are…We think with their development and some pieces added here and there we will start to turn this thing.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Restricted free agent Tobias Harris characterized his end of season meeting with Hennigan as being productive, Hightower adds. “Talk went good,” Harris said. “Only God knows what’s next. I can’t control the future. None of us can. I’ll leave it up to management to decide what the overall plan is and go from there. We didn’t really talk too much about [his contract], just about the season…He just told me not to worry about it and he’s proud of the year I had.
  • Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was complimentary of swingman Henry Walker, whose $1,110,602 salary for next season is non-guaranteed, as was relayed by the team’s official Twitter account. “With a full off-season with us I feel like his player development can continue,” Spoelstra said. Walker appeared in 24 games for the Heat this season, averaging 7.3 points and 3.4 rebounds in 26.2 minutes per outing.
  • Spoelstra also relayed that the Heat are enamored with Goran Dragic and Luol Deng, both of whom have player options to decide upon this offseason, and that the organization wants both players to return next season, Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post writes. “We love them; Hopefully they love us,” Spoelstra said. “I love working with them and our staff loved working with them. They’re two pros. From an objective point of view, they’re not difficult guys to work with. They’re absolute pros, the kind of guys you want to build your team around, the guys you want to go to work with, the guys you want to be in a foxhole with.

Southeast Notes: Magic, Whiteside, Jefferson

Better late than never. Over the weekend, Shaquille O’Neal expressed regret about the way he left the Magic nearly two decades ago. “We won games and then I made a business decision,” O’Neal said, according to Kyle Hightower of The Associated Press. “It’s never personal. The [team owner Rich] DeVos family knows that. And I accomplished [a championship] somewhere else. It’s not like I didn’t think they weren’t going to be upset or anything. But it’s business. It was all business. Do I regret it? I never fully answer it. I regret it sometimes. Is this where I started and should have stayed? I actually wish they made it a law that whoever drafts you, you gotta stay there your whole career.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division..

  • The Heat are concerned that Hassan Whiteside could miss significant time thanks to a hand injury, Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald writes.  The big man split his right hand between his forefinger and ring finger during the Heat’s game against the Bucks on Tuesday and his injury required 10 stitches. There is no timetable for Whiteside’s return, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the team’s center likely would be back for the playoffs.
  • Signing Al Jefferson in the summer of 2013 has been a big reason for the Hornets‘ turn toward credibility, Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders writes. In fact, helping them shed their old losing image is part of what motivated him to join Charlotte in the first place. “That’s most definitely the reason why I came here,” Jefferson said. “I saw the young talent that this team had with Kemba Walker and [Michael Kidd-Gilchrist] and Bismack Biyombo, but the main reason I came here was the coach. When Steve Clifford got the job, just sitting down talking to him on my visit, I knew that he was coming here to turn things around. I just wanted to be a part of that.
  • The Heat‘s Henry Walker (who formerly went by the name Bill Walker), after years of battling adversity, has earned the confidence of coach Erik Spoelstra, who has started him seven times and given him regular minutes at both forward positions, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes in a profile of the player. Miami signed Walker to two 10-day contracts, and then eventually to a longer deal which was a two-year, minimum salary arrangement, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links). He is averaging 7.9 points and 3.6 assists per game.

Will Joseph contributed to this post.

Southeast Notes: O’Quinn, Beasley, Payton

Kyle O’Quinn‘s future is up in the air as his minutes continue to decrease with the Magic, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel writes. The big man has spent his entire three year career in Orlando, so he doesn’t know what the free agent process will hold for him, Robbins adds. “It’s my first free agency, so I really don’t know what to expect, to be honest,” O’Quinn said. “My agent [Andy Miller], obviously, he’s been through free agency before with other players. He can give me his analysis and his assumption and his prediction as much as he wants, but I’m the one that has to go to bed at night not knowing where I’ll be next year.” O’Quinn will become an unrestricted free agent this summer if the Magic don’t make him a $1.2MM qualifying offer, or a restricted free agent if the Magic extend the qualifying offer.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Both Michael Beasley‘s and Henry Walker‘s deals with the Heat are two year, minimum salary arrangements, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter links). Beasley’s contract includes a team option for 2015/16 that needs to be decided on before July, Pincus notes.
  • Walker’s deal includes partial guarantees of $100K if he is still on the Heat‘s roster after August 1st, $300K after November 3rd, and another $500K if Walker is still with Miami after December 1st, Pincus tweets.
  • Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders looked at Elfrid Payton‘s rookie season with the Magic and the point guard’s case to win the Rookie of the Year award. The 21-year-old Payton has appeared in 73 games this season, including 54 as a starter. He is averaging 8.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 6.2 assists in 29.5 minutes per contest.