J.J. Hickson

J.J. Hickson To Play In Puerto Rico

Longtime NBA big man J.J. Hickson will resume his professional career in Puerto Rico. As Nicola Lupo of Sportando relays, Puerto Rican club Leones de Ponce announced (via Instagram) that it has signed Hickson to a contract and he’s set to make his debut for the team.

The 19th overall pick in the 2008 draft, Hickson appeared in 534 regular season games for the Cavaliers, Kings, Trail Blazers, Nuggets, and Wizards from 2008-16, averaging 9.5 PPG and 6.8 RPG in 22.2 minutes per contest for his career. The 30-year-old’s last appearance in the NBA came for Washington on April 13, 2016.

Since 2016, Hickson has continued his career in international leagues, suiting up for multiple teams in China and for Champville SC in Lebanon. Before signing with Leones de Ponce, the former North Carolina State had yet to play anywhere during the 2018/19 season.

And-Ones: Simmons, Rose, Hickson, Draft

Sixers rookie Ben Simmons used the start of the Final Four to take another swipe at the NCAA, relays Alysha Tsuji of USA Today.

“All this money being made and they get a swag bag at the end of it,” tweeted Simmons, who has clashed before with the NCAA over the lack of compensation for players. He spent one season at LSU before leaving for the NBA.

Simmons was included in a 2016 Showtime documentary called “One and Done” where he made a similar appeal for athletes to be paid. “Everybody’s making money except the players,” he said. “We’re the ones waking up early as hell to be the best teams and do everything they want us to do and then the players get nothing. They say education, but if I’m there for a year, I can’t get much education.”

There’s more news from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA player Malik Rose has been selected as G League Basketball Executive of the Year, the Hawks announced on their website. Rose serves as GM of the Erie BayHawks, Atlanta’s G League affiliate, who put together a 28-22 season and a third-place finish in the Eastern Conference. Rose, who played 13 NBA seasons, is also basketball operations manager for the Hawks.
  • J.J. Hickson has signed to play in Lebanon, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando. Hickson spent eight seasons in the NBA, with his last experience coming in 2015/16 when he split time with the Nuggets and Wizards. The 29-year-old has been playing in China since then.
  • USC center Chimezie Metu, who declared for the draft this week, will hire CAA sports as his representative, tweets international basketball writer David Pick. Meto is projected to be taken between the 25th and 35th pick. Potential top-five selection  Michael Porter Jr. of Missouri is nearing an agreement with Mark Bartelstein and Priority Sports, according to Pick (Twitter link).

J.J. Hickson Headed To China?

AUGUST 20: Hickson is finalizing a deal with the Fujian club, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com.

AUGUST 19: Power forward J.J. Hickson is negotiating a deal in China, a source told international journalist David Pick (Twitter link).

The 6’9” Hickson has played in the NBA since the 2008/09 season. He played 20 games with the Nuggets last season, including nine starts, and averaged 6.9 points and 4.4 rebounds in 15.3 minutes.

Hickson, who had a $5.6MM salary last season, was waived after reaching a buyout agreement in February.  The Nuggets tried to deal him before the trade deadline but couldn’t find a taker. He played in just three games after December 8th before he was waived.

He then signed for the remainder of the season with Wizards after clearing waivers. He appeared in 15 games with Washington, averaging 4.6 points and 3.0 rebounds in 8.7 minutes.

Hickson has also played for the Cavaliers, Kings and Trail Blazers. He’s averaged 9.5 points and 6.8 rebounds in 534 career games.

A torn ACL in March 2014 sidetracked Hickson’s career. His reputation as a subpar midrange shooter and poor defender also hindered his chances of signing another NBA contract.

Northwest Notes: Miller, Novak, Hickson

The Timberwolves‘ willingness to agree to a buyout with Andre Miller demonstrates the team’s commitment to developing its younger players, Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune writes. Parting ways with Miller now slides Tyus Jones up the depth chart where he will act as the primary backup to Ricky Rubio, Zgoda notes. “At this point where we are, it’s about giving these guys the opportunity to grow and develop,” interim coach Sam Mitchell said. “We’re never going to get where we need to go until these young guys learn how to play in certain situations.

While he will miss Miller’s veteran presence, the coach agreed with the move to waive the playmaker, Zgoda adds. “Absolutely. Andre has been great. He was great for me. I think he helped Ricky out a lot, and I think he has helped Zach LaVine and Tyus a lot. At this point of the season, he has a chance to sign with a great team like San Antonio that’s going to have a chance to win a championship. I’m happy for Andre,” Mitchell told Zgoda.

Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • J.J. Hickson relinquished $396,242 of his 2015/16 salary to secure his buyout from the Nuggets, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders relays (on Twitter). Denver is still on the hook for $5,217,258 in salary to the power forward, who signed with the Wizards for the remainder of the season after clearing waivers.
  • The Nuggets also agreed to a buyout arrangement with Steve Novak, who parted with $416,886 of this season’s salary as part of the transaction, Pincus tweets. As a result, the franchise’s cap hit for the combo forward is $3,333,115. Upon clearing waivers Novak signed with the Bucks for the remainder of the campaign.
  • The Trail Blazers have surprised the league with their stellar play of late, as many predicted the franchise would be lottery-bound in 2015/16 after losing LaMarcus Aldridge to the Spurs via free agency last July. The team may lack star power beyond Lillard, but it makes up for that with excellent locker room chemistry, Jason Quick of CSNNW.com relays. “How much we like each other, how much time we spend around each other, that shows you a team that is really together,” Lillard said. “It is a unit, and that makes up for us not being Cleveland. It makes up for us not having LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love. We are a group. We have each other’s back.’’

Wizards Sign J.J. Hickson

The Wizards have signed J.J. Hickson, the team announced. Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post reported that a deal was expected between the sides after Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports wrote that they were engaged in advanced discussions about a prorated minimum-salary contract that would run through the rest of the season. The pact indeed covers the balance of 2015/16, as Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld confirmed in the team’s press release.

“Signing J.J. for the remainder of the season gives us another solid veteran who will bring more depth to our frontcourt,” Grunfeld said. “His experience, athletic ability and physical presence will be solid additions to our team as we continue our playoff push.”

Hickson became a free agent earlier this week after the Nuggets waived him Saturday. Denver and the Jeff Schwartz client were planning to do a buyout deal, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported shortly before Hickson’s release, though it’s unclear how much salary, if any, Hickson forfeited from the $5,613,500 his Nuggets contract called for him to make this season. Assuming he’s getting the minimum as reported, he’ll make $366,337 with the Wizards as a seven-year veteran, though Washington only has to pay $273,038, the equivalent of the prorated two-year veteran’s minimum, with the league picking up the tab for the rest. That’s key, since the Wizards were already only about $1MM shy of the tax line.

Washington was only carrying only 14 players, one below the regular season maximum, so the team didn’t have to make a corresponding move. The Wizards were short a big man, since they sent Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair to the Suns for Markieff Morris in a two-for-one trade at last week’s deadline. The 27-year-old Hickson appeared in only three games for the Nuggets after December 8th, but he made nine early-season starts prior to that, eclipsing the eight starts in 73 appearances he made last year.

Wizards, J.J. Hickson In Advanced Talks

WEDNESDAY, 11:10am: The expectation is that a signing will take place on Thursday, Castillo writes, noting that Hickson has to pass a physical before joining the Wizards.

4:36pm: The contract would be a prorated minimum salary arrangement that covers the remainder of this season, Charania writes in a full-length story.

4:30pm: Hickson and the Wizards are indeed engaged in contract talks, Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post tweets, though the scribe notes that no agreement is expected to be formalized today.

TUESDAY, 4:18pm: The Wizards are in advanced contract discussions with free agent power forward J.J. Hickson, Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports reports (Twitter link). The exact terms of the proposed deal are unknown but Charania notes that it would be for the remainder of the 2015/16 season. Washington currently has 14 players on its roster, so no additional move would be required to sign Hickson.

Hickson was waived by the Nuggets on Friday after Denver was reportedly shopping him leading up to Thursday’s trade deadline but found no takers. The power forward was scheduled to make $5,613,500 this season, an amount that the Nuggets will be on the hook for less any salary Hickson may have given up in a buyout arrangement.

The 27-year-old appeared in 20 games for Denver this season averaging 6.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 15.3 minutes per contest. Hickson’s career numbers through eight NBA seasons are 9.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 0.9 assists to accompany a shooting line of .505/.000/.622.

Nuggets Waive J.J. Hickson, Steve Novak

5:42pm: Both players have officially been waived, the team announced via press release.

4:39pm: The Nuggets have waived Steve Novak and J.J. Hickson, Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports reports (Twitter links). A formal announcement from the team has yet to take place. Novak is earning $3,750,001 for 2015/16 and Hickson is scheduled to make $5,613,500, amounts that the Nuggets will be on the hook for less any salary the players may have given up in buyout arrangements. Both players’ deals expire at the end of this season, so they won’t have any impact on next season’s cap number for Denver. These moves leave the Nuggets with a roster count of 13 players, two under the regular season maximum.

The 32-year-old Novak appeared in only seven games for the Thunder this season before the Thursday trade that shipped him to the Nuggets. His career numbers through 10 NBA seasons are 4.7 points and 1.3 rebounds to accompany a slash line of .438/.432/.876. He’s reportedly a candidate to join the Cavaliers assuming he clears waivers, according to a report by Chris Haynes of The Northeast Ohio Media Group.

Denver was reportedly shopping Hickson leading up to Thursday’s trade deadline but found no takers. Hickson and the Nuggets had subsequently agreed to work out a buyout arrangement prior to the March 1st cutoff date for players to be postseason-eligible for their new teams, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com relayed. Hickson has appeared in just three games since December 8th. He averaged 7.9 points and 4.8 rebounds in 17.2 minutes per game across 17 appearances this season prior to that date.

Nuggets To Work Buyout With J.J. Hickson

The Nuggets will do a buyout with J.J. Hickson no later than March 1st, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Stein indicates that Denver has already committed to place Hickson on waivers by that date, though he says Hickson’s situation is the same as that of Steve Novak, whom Stein previously indicated would merely engage in buyout talks with the Nuggets. Regardless, the Hickson news is no surprise, as Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports reported earlier this week before the trade deadline that Hickson was almost certain to end up with a buyout.

The 27-year-old power forward is making $5,613,500 on an expiring deal, so it appears he’ll be giving up some of that money to secure his release in time to latch on with a playoff team. Players who hit waivers after March 1st aren’t eligible to appear in the postseason for another club.

Stein reported in January that Denver was actively shopping Hickson, about a month after Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders wrote that the Hickson was said to be available. The Jeff Schwartz client and his representatives at Excel Sports Management pushed hard for a trade, according to Sam Amico of Amico Hoops (on Twitter), but none materialized before the 2pm Central time deadline today.

Hickson has appeared in just three games since December 8th. He averaged 7.9 points and 4.8 rebounds in 17.2 minutes per game across 17 appearances this season prior to that date, with coach Michael Malone going so far as to put him in the starting lineup on nine occasions.

Northwest Notes: Martin, Cheeks, Pleiss, Burke

Kevin Martin is hoping the Wolves will trade him to a winning team before Thursday’s deadline, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. A source said Martin would like to see the deal done as a reward for his “professionalism and mentoring of young teammates.” The 12th-year shooting guard is making $7.085MM this year and has a player option worth nearly $7.38MM for next season.

There’s more news from the Northwest Division:

  • Thunder assistant coach Maurice Cheeks will be out of action for about six weeks after undergoing hip surgery, the team announced today. Mark Daigneault, head coach of the Thunder’s D-League affiliate, will take Cheeks’ place, while OKC Blue assistant Jarell Christian will coach that team for the rest of the season.
  • The Jazz recalled center Tibor Pleiss from the D-League today, tweets Jody Genessy of The Deseret News. However, the move was just so Pleiss could attend practice, and he was sent back down later in the day.
  • Jazz point guard Trey Burke, who is rumored to be in a proposal that would send him to Houston in exchange for Ty Lawson, works better as a backup than a starter, according to Bobby Marks of the Vertical on Yahoo Sports. In his guide to the trade deadline for Utah, Marks says the Jazz have been missing a floor leader in the absence of Dante Exum, who is out for the season after undergoing knee surgery last summer. Marks advises the Jazz to hang onto Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and rookie Trey Lyles as they push for a playoff spot.
  • Randy Rigby will retire as president of the Jazz at the end of the season and will be replaced by Steve Starks, Genessy tweets. “I am excited about the future of the Jazz and my continued involvement as an adviser,” said Rigby, who has been with the organization since 1986.
  • The Nuggets may be able to get a second-round pick for J.J. Hickson, Marks writes in his trade deadline guide for Denver. Hickson has fallen out of the team’s rotation and has been on the market for weeks. Marks credits the Denver front office with being on the right track for rebuilding and says the team should consider moving either the Rockets’ or Blazers’ first-round picks, which are both conditional, in exchange for a future pick or veteran player.

Nets Likely To Part Ways With Andrea Bargnani

TUESDAY, 6:59am: Colangelo and Rosas are still in the race for the GM job, Wojnarowski clarifies (on Twitter).

MONDAY, 11:24am: Andrea Bargnani is among the players almost certain to work a buyout with their respective teams if they’re not traded by Thursday’s 2pm Central deadline, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports. It’s not surprising to see David Lee and J.J. Hickson as the other names on Wojnarowski’s short list of buyout candidates, since Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck reported earlier this month that the Celtics intended to either trade Lee or do a buyout, while the Nuggets have apparently been shopping Hickson. Bargnani is in the first season of a two-year deal for the minimum salary that includes a player option for next season and is averaging only 13.8 minutes per game, by far the fewest of his 10-year NBA career.

Still, it’s difficult to gauge just what the Nets will do with their personnel, since they’re in the midst of hiring a new GM. Nuggets assistant GM Arturas Karnisovas and Spurs assistant GM Sean Marks continue to talk with the team as it moves toward second interviews this week, league sources told Wojnarowski. The general consensus around the NBA as of Friday held that former Raptors and Suns GM Bryan Colangelo would ultimately emerge with the gig, as Beck reported then, though Colangelo and Rockets executive VP of basketball operations Gersson Rosas aren’t necessarily out of the running, Wojnarowski indicates. Chris Broussard of ESPN on Thursday identified Colangelo, Karnisovas and Marks as the front-runners for the job that’s been vacant since the Nets removed Billy King from the position last month.

Regardless of whom the Nets choose as GM, he’ll be only one part of a committee that will hire the team’s next coach, Wojnarowski also writes. Various reports have indicated that some combination of team chairman Dmitry Razumov, board member Sergey Kushchenko, CEO Brett Yormark and owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s holding company president Irina Pavlova comprise the committee in charge of the GM search. The new GM will join that group in its efforts to find a coach, according to Wojnarowski. The Nets hope to draw from a pool of coaching candidates that includes NBA head coaching veterans Jeff Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau and Spurs assistant Ettore Messina. Mike Mazzeo and Marc Stein reported last month that Brooklyn had strong interest in Thibodeau, and Stein later identified Messina as a candidate, but this appears to be the first legitimate link between the Nets and Van Gundy.

Whomever ends up coaching the Nets likely won’t have Bargnani, unless the team speeds through the process. March 1st represents the de facto buyout deadline, since it’s the last day any player can hit waivers and still be eligible to play for another NBA team in the postseason.