Ian Clark

And-Ones: MVP Race, I. Thomas, Draft, I. Clark

The top two finishers in last season’s MVP voting appear to be the top two candidates for this year’s award too, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Bontemps recently conducted a straw poll of 100 media members and found that Sixers center Joel Embiid narrowly – and unofficially – leads Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic in the MVP race.

As Bontemps details, Embiid received 45 first-place votes from the poll respondents, while Jokic got 43. Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (nine), Suns guard Chris Paul (two), and Warriors guard Stephen Curry (one) were the other players who got first-place votes. Interestingly, Embiid was the only player to show up on all 100 five-player ballots, while Jokic was left off five.

Curry received 94 first-place votes when Bontemps conducted a similar straw poll in December, but the veteran sharpshooter has slowed down since his hot start, while players like Embiid, Jokic, and Antetokounmpo have made stronger MVP pushes.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Free agent guard Isaiah Thomas is expected to rejoin the Grand Rapids Gold – the Nuggets‘ G League affiliate – after the All-Star break, league sources tell Marc Stein (Twitter link). Thomas had a very brief stint in Grand Rapids in December, scoring 42 points in his only NBAGL game before getting called up to the NBA. Thomas signed 10-day contracts with the Lakers and Mavericks before returning to the open market.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic has published a new 2022 mock draft, while Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report has updated his top-50 big board. Both draft experts currently have Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren at No. 1 and Jabari Smith of Auburn at No. 2, with Purdue’s Jaden Ivey moving up to No. 3 ahead of Duke’s Paolo Banchero.
  • Veteran guard Ian Clark, who has 330 regular season appearances on his NBA résumé and won a title with Golden State in 2017, has signed with the Sydney Kings, the Australian team recently announced in a press release. Clark played in 60 games for New Orleans in 2018/19, but has been out of the NBA since then.

And-Ones: Felder, Yao Ming, China

Kay Felder is a potential target for China’s Xinjiang Flying Tigers, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando reports. The team is expected to sign either Felder or Ty Lawson to replace another former NBA player, Ian Clark, who is sidelined by a finger injury.

A second-round pick by the Cavaliers in 2016, Felder was waived by the Raptors’ G League team in December after a domestic violence allegation. Felder, who appeared in 58 NBA games for Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit, played for Xinjiang last season after he was waived. The Flying Tigers’ interest in Lawson was previously reported.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • There doesn’t seem to be a star on the level of Yao Ming coming from China in the near future, Marc Spears of ESPN writes. Currently, there are no Chinese players who could make a sure-fire impact in the NBA and commissioner Adam Silver hopes that will change. “It frustrates me that there are no Chinese players in the NBA,” he said. “There’s probably more basketball being played in China than anywhere else in the world. And more NBA basketball is being watched in China than anywhere else in the world.”
  • An Atlantic City, NJ casino owned by Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta can now accept bets on NBA games, according to Wayne Parry of the Associated Press. New Jersey governor Phil Murphy has signed a bill allowing Atlantic City’s Golden Nugget casino, owned by Fertitta, to handle NBA bets that don’t involve the Rockets.
  • Former Hawks guard Malcolm Delaney will play in Spain this season. Get the details here.

And-Ones: Lillard, Role Players, Seattle, Lawson

During a recent appearance on The Joe Budden Podcast (h/t to Dan Feldman of NBC Sports), Trail Blazers superstar point guard Damian Lillard, who recently signed a super-max extension to stay in Portland through 2025, explains his thoughts as to why more players don’t do the same.

“I think people walk away from it because of the media… the outside influence, people talking about their legacy… so (the players) say, ‘It’s not about the money. I want to win the championship. And I want to do this.”

“But I don’t think just because you decide to stay and not pass up on that money, that don’t mean you ain’t trying to win it. When you’re 42 years old and your career [is] over, and you ain’t won it, anyway, and you walked away from 60 million dollars more than what you got, they ain’t even going to be talking about you then. The joke is going to be on you.”

Lillard’s point is an interesting one, and it begs the question as to how many players eligible for a super-max turned it down for this reason. Even though he won a championship in Toronto, Kawhi Leonard almost certainly did not. But, it’s conceivable Anthony Davis felt pressure to leave the Pelicans because outside influences convinced him he couldn’t win a title in New Orleans and that outcome would be bad for his legacy.

We have more content from around the basketball world, below:

  • Quinn Davis of Basketball Insiders takes a look at three role players who could make an impact on a team with championship aspirations next season: Sixers forward James Ennis, Clippers forward Maurice Harkless, and Jazz big man Ed Davis.
  • Newly inducted Hall-of-Famer, big man Jack Sikma, said during his induction speech last night that it’s time for the NBA to return to Seattle, writes Anthony Olivieri of ESPN. “Speaking for all Sonics fans, it’s our great hope that the NBA will soon find a pathway to bring a franchise back to Seattle. It’s time.”
  • The Xinjang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association are considering the signing of former NBA guard Ty Lawson because Ian Clark cannot report to the team yet due to an injury, per Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

Ian Clark Signs With Xinjiang

AUGUST 19: Clark has officially joined the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, according to Carchia.

JULY 30: Veteran NBA guard Ian Clark is set to sign with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association, a source tells Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

Clark, 28, has spent the last six seasons in the NBA, playing for the Jazz, Nuggets, Warriors, and Pelicans during that time. His best performance may have come in 2016/17, when he averaged 6.8 PPG on .487/.374/.759 shooting in 77 games for Golden State in one of the club’s title years.

In 2018/19, Clark appeared in 60 games for New Orleans, recording 6.7 PPG on .394/.327/.892 shooting in 16.2 minutes per contest.

Assuming Clark finalizes his reported deal with Xinjiang, he’ll be one of a small handful of players who spent time in the NBA last season and are headed to the CBA for 2019/20. Ekpe Udoh is said to be joining the Beijing Ducks, while James Nunnally is considered likely to sign with the Shanghai Sharks.

Pelicans Re-Sign Ian Clark

JULY 9: The Pelicans have officially re-signed Clark, according to the NBA’s transactions log.

JULY 6: Ian Clark will re-sign with the Pelicans for one year at the veteran’s minimum, tweets Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports.

As our chart of 2018/19 minimum salaries shows, Clark will earn $1,757,429 for the season and the team will have a $1,512,601 cap hit.

Clark, 27, was a valuable reserve in his first season in New Orleans, posting a career-best 7.4 points per night in 74 games (19.7 MPG) and shooting 31.8% from 3-point range. He improved those numbers to 7.8 PPG and 35.7% in the playoffs.

The Pelicans are the fourth NBA stop for Clark, who signed as a free agent last summer after winning a championship with the Warriors. He also spent time with the Jazz and Nuggets.

Free Agent Rumors: Gordon, Brewer, Favors

While the Magic plan to pursue a long-term deal with restricted free agent Aaron Gordon, another team to keep an eye on is the Lakers, Marc Spears of ESPN tweets.

It’s no surprise that Gordon, a 23-year-old fresh off of a career year with averages of 17.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, is generating interest in free agency but Zach Lowe of ESPN writes that Orlando may not have much pressure to go as high as the max to retain him.

The Lakers join a number of other teams apparently interested in poaching Gordon’s services, including the Pacers (story) and Kings (story).

  • The Rockets have scheduled a meeting with free agent wing James Nunnally, per international basketball reporter David Pick (Twitter link). Nunnally, who has also been linked to Portland and Minnesota, played for Turkish team Fenerbahce last season and knocked down 55% of his three-pointers in EuroLeague play, making him an interesting fit for Houston.
  • Having already been linked to several potential targets since the free agent period opened, the Timberwolves have also “planted seeds” with Corey Brewer and Davis Bertans, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link). As Wolfson observes, Minnesota has made a habit in recent years of spreading a wide net in free agency, inquiring on dozens of players.
  • In a later tweet, Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News added that the Timberwolves have also checked in on Derrick Favors, Mike Scott, David Nwaba and Ian Clark.

Pacific Notes: Jordan, Clark, Looney, Curry

If he decides to turn down his player option for 2018/19, DeAndre Jordan will enter this summer as one of the league’s most intriguing free agents and will likely have no shortage of suitors. No teams can offer Jordan as much money as his current team, the Clippers, but his steady defense and elite rebounding should interest several clubs.

Frank Urbina of HoopsHype examines Jordan’s potential trip through the open market and identifies four possible destinations. Even without Chris Paul, who was traded to the Rockets last offseason, Jordan enjoyed a solid season, averaging 12.0 PPG, 15.2 RPG, and 64.5% field goal percentage to go with a career-best 1.5 APG.

Among the possible teams, Urbina lists the Clippers, their hometown rival Lakers, plus the Knicks and Kings. The Lakers enter the offseason with major cap space that can be used on multiple free agents; the Knicks may have a season-long void in the frontcourt if Enes Kanter opts out and Kristaps Porzingis ACL injury recovery lingers; and the Kings are rebuilding with money to spend.

Check out more Pacific Division notes below:

  • Kevon Looney has been a solid player for the Warriors, but this past October, the team elected not to pick up his player option, so he could leave as an unrestricted free agent this summer. Warriors general manager Bob Myers admitted to Marcus Thompson of The Athletic (subscription required) that in hindsight, the team should have gone a different direction. “We didn’t know. We had to go on the information we had, which is not the information we have now,” Myers said. “Maybe in that circumstance, the cap factored in as far as having to be very conscious of every dollar and saying ‘Can we replace this player? Can we afford to pay him at this number?’ When we make any decision, we’re projecting. Sometimes we project correctly. Sometimes we project incorrectly.”
  • With the Warriors set for a second-round series against the Pelicans, Ian Clark – who spent two seasons in Golden State – plans to use that experience to help his current team, William Guillory of NOLA.com writes. “It’s going to be fun,” Clark said. “Being in this position to compete against them is going to be fun. Obviously I know a lot of those guys’ tendencies, and I’m trying to help as much as possible to get the win.”
  • We noted earlier today that Warriors head coach Steve Kerr listed Stephen Curry as questionable for Game 1 between the Pelicans and Warriors this Saturday. Curry has been out since late March with an MCL sprain.

Pelicans Sign Jordan Crawford

3:07pm: The Pelicans have officially signed Crawford, the team announced this afternoon in a press release.

2:32pm: The Pelicans are expected to sign Jordan Crawford to a contract, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). New Orleans has an open spot on its 15-man roster, so no corresponding roster move will be necessary to finalize Crawford’s new deal.

Crawford, 29, opened the season with the Pelicans, but was on a non-guaranteed contract and was waived after just two games when the club signed Jameer Nelson. The former first-round pick has been effective during his limited time in New Orleans over the last two years, averaging 13.6 PPG and 3.1 APG with a .483/.410/.769 shooting line in 21 games since the start of the 2016/17 season.

The Pelicans had been on the lookout for backcourt help, with Ian Clark expected to miss the next five-to-10 days with an ankle injury, as head coach Alvin Gentry announced earlier today (Twitter link via Scott Kushner of The Advocate).

Larry Drew II had been the 15th man on New Orleans’ roster, but his 10-day deal with the team expired overnight. Rajon Rondo had said earlier this afternoon that he expected a new point guard to be brought in to fill that newly-opened roster spot (Twitter link via Kushner).

2018 Free Agent Stock Watch: New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans opted to zig while the rest of the NBA zagged, effectively doubling down on big men in the throes of the Small Ball Era. Unfortunately, before anybody could see whether the unconventional approach would bear any fruit, it all came crashing down in the form of DeMarcus Cousins‘ torn Achilles.

The Pels rolled the dice when they acquired Cousins at the trade deadline last season and will now finally get the opportunity to find out whether they can lock him up long term.

Since Cousins’ unrestricted free agency impacts the course of the franchise in both the short- and long-term, the fact that he’ll be sidelined, perhaps even into the 2018/19 campaign, is the biggest Pels storyline heading into the offseason.

Ian Clark, SG, 27 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $1.6MM deal in 2018
The Pels landed an intriguing depth piece with winning experience when they inked the ex-Warriors guard last offseason. But while he’s shown the occasional glimpse of promise on the wings, Clark hasn’t exactly put himself in position for a big payout this summer. On a frontcourt-heavy roster, there isn’t much need for a wing player who shoots 29.1% from beyond the arc, but he could be a cheap rotation piece for the soon-to-be cash-strapped franchise.

DeMarcus Cousins, C, 27 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $63.5MM deal in 2013DeMarcus Cousins vertical
Cousins’ value has changed in a few ways over the course of the past 12 months. While he was once perceived as a fickle star putting up lofty but hollow numbers for a perennial loser, he’s now a major part of an intriguing organization with enormous ambitions. The catastrophic Achilles injury that cut his 2017/18 season short will have but a little impact on his stock heading forward. Given that the relationship between Cousins and the franchise appears to be on good terms, it seems well within reason that the club would offer the max allowable and then find a way to make the numbers work. Sure, the Pelicans could take the opportunity to pull the plug on the experiment before seriously hamstringing their payroll, but it could be years, if not decades, before they have as high a ceiling as they do with Cousins and Anthony Davis on the same roster. Don’t expect the injury to impact much, except, perhaps, the list of other franchises tripping over themselves trying to poach Cousins’ services.

Rajon Rondo, PG, 32 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $3.3MM deal in 2018
It’s not often that a 12-year-veteran on a minimum contract with his fifth team in four seasons would be considered a must-add, but that’s exactly what Rondo is heading into the summer. After three seasons bouncing around the league, Rondo performed admirably alongside Cousins, a former teammate and fellow Kentucky product. The Pelicans need all the affordable help they can get and a motivated Rondo, who dropped two points and 25 assists in one of the most fascinating NBA statlines of all time earlier this season, is a bargain worth chasing. Given that the surly vet hasn’t exactly been a good fit in Dallas, Sacramento or Chicago, there may not be much of a market for the Pels to compete with.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Gay, Clark, Harden

The Shreveport City Council voted on Tuesday against moving forward with the plan to invest $30MM into building an arena capable of housing a G League franchise for the Pelicans, according to William Guillory of The Times-Picayune. As we heard last month, Shreveport and Pensacola, Florida are considered the two finalists for the Pelicans’ G League affiliate.

A new facility in Shreveport would likely have made the Louisiana the strong favorite to become the home of the Pelicans’ G League squad, which is expected to begin play in 2018/19. However, even with the city reluctant to commit financially to the project, Shreveport remains in the conversation, per Pelicans VP of communications Greg Bensel.

“We are still moving in the process,” Bensel said, per Guillory. “Shreveport is part of our Saints and Pelicans family and we value that market and both teams will continue to promote our community outreach efforts throughout the area.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest division:

  • Less than eight months after tearing his Achilles, Rudy Gay has been cleared for all basketball activities and is ready to begin his first season with the Spurs, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. As McDonald notes, it remains to be seen how long it will take Gay to get back to full strength, but the veteran forward is optimistic. “I’m feeling great,” Gay told reporters on Wednesday. “I know a lot of people say that. I don’t think you’d expect me to say anything else. But I actually feel great.”
  • After winning a title with the Warriors last season, Ian Clark is looking forward to a new challenge – and a potentially larger role – with the Pelicans in 2017/18. Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com has the story on Clark, who explains why he decided to sign a one-year contract with New Orleans this summer.
  • While James Harden was happy to play some pickup ball with Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony this week, he was focused more on meshing with his new teammate CP3 than he was on the rumors that Anthony could become a member of the Rockets as well, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.