Jarrett Allen

Team USA Notes: Reaves, Haliburton, Anthony, Curry

Team USA will leave the World Cup without a gold medal, but it may have developed a few players who will be useful in future international competitions, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. This version of the American squad was built around young talent than established stars, and many of them could return for future World Cup or Olympic tournaments.

Vardon points to Lakers guard Austin Reaves as one of those players. The 25-year-old is third in scoring for the U.S. at 12.4 PPG and second in steals at 1.3 per game. He has also regularly been on the court late in close games.

“I think I’ve been able to learn a lot from a lot of really good players, a lot of really good coaches, and basically just see that I belong,” Reaves said.

International play has often been the springboard for players to assert themselves as future stars, such as Kevin Durant in the 2010 World Championship, Vardon notes. Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards appears ready to move into that role, and Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton may be as well.

“I think being the point guard with other great scorers, other great players and understand that they want to be on the court at the same time as me, they want me to be in there to get them involved,” Haliburton said.

There’s more on Team USA:

  • Friday’s loss to Germany was among the topics addressed by global ambassadors Pau Gasol, Luis Scola and Carmelo Anthony during an appearance on a talk show, relays Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops. Anthony, one of the most accomplished international players in American history, considers the result an “upset,” but not a huge surprise. “You have to take your hat off to Germany, and for Serbia as well,” Anthony said. “That’s good for the sport, everybody has to think differently when approaching these competitions. The game has grown globally. Everybody has an opportunity to go there and win a gold medal.”
  • Lack of size was an issue for the U.S. not only against Germany but throughout the World Cup, observes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. He notes that in three games against larger European teams, the Americans gave up 53 offensive rebounds and 64 second-chance points.
  • Stephen Curry is Team USA’s “must-have guy” for the Paris Olympics, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Instead of turning to LeBron James and Durant again, Rankin would like to see the 2024 roster built around Curry with Jayson Tatum, Jimmy Butler, Devin Booker, De’Aaron Fox, Anthony Davis, Julius Randle, Bam Adebayo and Jarrett Allen all in prominent roles.

Pelicans Notes: Valanciunas, Lewis, Ingram, Zion

The Pelicans explored changes at center during the offseason, but it appears Jonas Valanciunas has the starting job locked up heading into training camp, William Guillory of The Athletic writes in a mailbag column. Although defensive issues kept him off the court in late-game situations last season, Valanciunas still provides a reliable presence in the middle with only 11 total missed games over the past two years.

New Orleans reportedly reached out to the Cavaliers this summer about trading for Jarrett Allen, but there’s currently “little traction” on a deal between the teams, according to Guillory. The Pelicans also inquired about Pistons big man Isaiah Stewart, but also to no avail.

Valanciunas has an expiring $15.4MM contract, so he’s likely to be the subject of trade rumors until the February deadline. Guillory expects New Orleans to continue to seek upgrades at center by offering a package of Valanciunas, point guard Kira Lewis and draft picks.

There’s more from New Orleans:

  • An extension for Trey Murphy won’t take effect until the 2025/26 season, so Pelicans management has two more years to determine if the current core can contend for a title, Guillory observes in the same piece. That group, which also includes Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, CJ McCollum and Herbert Jones, showed promised in 2021/22 but fell short of the playoffs last season. The front office will likely try to avoid the luxury tax again this year, Guillory states, but there’s a belief that this is the most talented group the franchise has ever assembled.
  • Pelicans fans shouldn’t be concerned about Ingram’s struggles with Team USA, Guillory adds. Ingram was recently replaced in the starting lineup because he has failed to mesh with the first unit. Guillory notes that Ingram has already proven his status as an elite player, but says it would help if he could show an ability to adjust to a complementary role because he may be in that position more often on a fully healthy Pelicans team.
  • Guillory tweeted workout photos of Williamson along with the statement, “Been hearing good things about the work Zion’s putting in this summer.” Guillory added that Williamson is “really focused” on getting ready for a long season and wrote, “Think he’s gonna come in with a chip on his shoulder.” Injuries limited the 23-year-old forward to 29 games last season, and his health is obviously crucial to the Pelicans’ playoff hopes.

And-Ones: Executives, Value Deals, Super-Max, Milestones

Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports recently ranked 25 of the NBA’s top decision-makers in terms of how successful they’ve been at drafting, making trades, and signing free agents over the course of their respective careers. The other five lead executives were not evaluated due to a small sample size.

As Rohrbach writes, with how his system is set up, having a high score over a long career is more impressive than an executive who performed similarly with fewer years of experience. Still, there’s an obvious caveat: his evaluation process is subjective.

Mavericks general manager Nico Harrison is ranked No. 25, followed by Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak and Bulls executive VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas. The top three executives in Rohrbach’s system are Jazz CEO Danny Ainge (No. 1), Raptors president Masai Ujiri, and Spurs GM Brian Wright.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype created three all-contract-value teams comprised of players at each of the five positions. Players on rookie deals and those with maximum salaries were excluded from consideration. Gozlan’s first team features four members of the United States’ World Cup roster — Jalen Brunson, Austin Reaves, Mikal Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr. Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen takes the final spot.
  • Signing players to a Designated Veteran contract, also known as the “super-max,” is a polarizing topic among NBA executives, according to Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com. “Super-max isn’t a guarantee of the result you’re looking for,” one general manager told Heavy Sports. “Just because you qualify doesn’t make you that guy. Inflated contracts are even harder to move. The additional penalties in the new CBA should slow the roll of everybody giving out a super-max deal the first time a guy qualifies for it. Just because a guy qualifies for it doesn’t necessarily make him entitled to it. That’s become the issue in the league. If you’re going to call yourself a franchise-level player, which is what I think the super-max number says, you’ve got to have more than just putting up numbers.”
  • ESPN.com lists some noteworthy milestones and anniversaries to watch for the 2023/24 season, noting that Lakers superstar LeBron James is on track to surpass 40,000 career points if he maintains his stellar production and stays healthy. James became the league’s all-time leading scorer last season.

Pelicans’ Valanciunas Talks Trade Rumors, Zion, More

Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas had his name pop up in trade rumors multiple times this offseason. According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, New Orleans explored the possibility of acquiring a more switchable center, inquiring on players like Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen and Pistons big man Isaiah Stewart. But with training camps just a few weeks away, Valanciunas remains on the roster.

Speaking to Fischer, Valanciunas expressed interest in staying in New Orleans beyond his current deal. And head of basketball operations David Griffin and head coach Willie Green were in Manila on Tuesday to watch the veteran big man play for Lithuania against Montenegro, tweets Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com (Griffin and Green will also visit with Team USA’s Brandon Ingram during their trip, Fischer notes).

But with lucrative new contracts for young frontcourt players like Zion Williamson and Herbert Jones on the team’s books beginning this season, extending Valanciunas at a rate anywhere near his current $15.4MM salary might be a long shot, Fischer writes.

If the 31-year-old doesn’t sign an extension with the Pelicans, he’ll likely remain a trade candidate throughout the 2023/24 season, since he’s on an expiring contract. However, he tells Fischer he’s not bothered by the fact that his future is uncertain.

“You can’t be safe all the time and sitting and know where you’re going to be the next day,” Valanciunas said. “You have to expect everything. There’s no hard feelings. Trades happen. It’s not like an unusual thing.”

Here are a few more highlights from Valanciunas’ conversation with Fischer:

On his attempts to develop a three-point shot:

“I don’t want to be stretching out. I want to be a down-low player. My main game is going to be in the paint, always. Set screens, roll hard. Do damage inside on the low post. But when they’re plugging the paint, when they’re rotating, when they’re leaving you alone, being able to knock down a three-point shot, this is what I’m still working on.”

On how good Williamson can be when he’s healthy:

“He has the skill set and the first step, which I feel bad for people who’s guarding him. It’s unbelievable things. When you’re just watching him play, you feel like, ‘Wow, what the f–k is going on?’ His power, his highlights, talk for himself.”

On his post-retirement plans:

“I want to have a feel of basketball, no matter what. Playing, doing some other jobs. Coaching, front office. No matter what, I want to be connected to basketball. So that’s what my next step is gonna be.”

Stein’s Latest: Wood, Saric, Bol, Mavs, Pelicans, Reed

Christian Wood and Dario Saric are two of the top unrestricted free agents who have yet to find new teams. There’s a good reason for that, according to Marc Stein at Substack: Both big men have only received contract offers for the veteran’s minimum thus far and are presumably looking for more money.

Stein says Saric will likely land with the Warriors if he’s unable to find a higher-paying offer. The Croatian big man is reportedly Golden State’s top remaining target.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • The Magic released Bol Bol on Tuesday and he cleared the waiver wire despite having a relatively modest $2.2MM salary. The Suns have a “level of interest” in the 7’2″ big man, according to Stein. John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM said on Thursday (via Twitter) that he believed Phoenix might “take a hard look” at potentially signing Bol. Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported when Bol was waived that the Suns contemplated trading for him on the night of last month’s draft.
  • The Mavericks aren’t done reshaping their roster this offseason, Stein reports. Dallas is expected to trade Tim Hardaway Jr. at some point, with JaVale McGee another candidate to be on the move, whether it’s via trade or being waived. Stein also hears Theo Pinson‘s time with the Mavs is likely over. The veteran guard remains an unrestricted free agent.
  • The Pelicans are just above the luxury tax threshold and have reportedly been active in trade talks for weeks. Like Fischer, Stein hears New Orleans is shopping guard Kira Lewis Jr. and center Jonas Valanciunas, with Lewis’ name surfacing more frequently in recent days. The Pelicans also unsuccessfully attempted to pry Jarrett Allen away from the Cavaliers, according to Stein.
  • There hasn’t been much buzz about possible offer sheets for restricted free agent Paul Reed, but Stein writes that the Jazz are worth monitoring. However, the Sixers are reportedly keen on retaining Reed, so it’s unclear if that might work out for Utah. The Jazz also already have several frontcourt players, so Reed would be a bit of an odd fit from a roster standpoint.

Stein’s Latest: Mavs, Thybulle, J. Allen, Maxey, D. Powell

In addition to their previously reported interest in Grant Williams, the Mavericks have their eye on another restricted free agent, Matisse Thybulle of the Trail Blazers, league sources tell veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein (Substack story).

It’s unclear if Dallas has a real shot at either player — according to Stein, the Celtics and Blazers have been sending “behind-the-scenes signals” that they plan to match any offer sheet on their respective RFAs, and the over-the-cap Mavericks will be limited to the mid-level exception.

Besides pursuing another wing, the Mavericks would still like to upgrade their center spot. They explored trades for Clint Capela and Deandre Ayton and would have been interested in Naz Reid if he had reached free agency, Stein writes. For now, Dwight Powell and Richaun Holmes appears poised to vie for the starting job as lottery pick Dereck Lively adjusts to the NBA.

Here’s more from Stein’s latest look around the league:

  • There have been some “whispers” this week that Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen may be more available via trade than the team is letting on, says Stein. Allen was an All-Star in 2021/22 and had another solid season in ’22/23, but struggled to make an impact during Cleveland’s first-round playoff loss to New York.
  • Stein, like some other reporters, has heard that the Sixers have essentially made Tyrese Maxey untouchable in trade discussions. A team source tells Stein that Philadelphia views Maxey as an integral part of the club’s future and is adamant that he won’t be available in any trade.
  • According to Stein, Dwight Powell received “serious” interest from the Rockets before deciding to remain with the Mavericks. Houston pivoted to Jock Landale after Powell chose Dallas, Stein explains.

Trade Rumors: Lillard, Valanciunas, N. Powell, Wizards, K. Martin

Following Monday’s meeting with Damian Lillard and his agent, Trail Blazers general manager Joe Cronin put out a brief statement indicating that the team remains committed to building around its star point guard. Appearing on ESPN’s Get Up on Tuesday morning (YouTube link), Brian Windhorst provided some additional information on how that meeting went.

“This was the meeting that a lot of the league was watching to see if Damian Lillard requested a trade, and he absolutely did not,” Windhorst said (hat tip to RealGM). “From what I understand, the tenor of the meeting was that he doesn’t want to put pressure on the Blazers, that he wants to see what they do in free agency, and he’s going to give them that time do that.

“This is an interesting strategy move. He said at the end of the season ‘Get me veterans.’ The draft came and went, no veterans. He’s still not pressing, from what I have been told. He’s still going to give the Blazers every opportunity to work through this free agency process this week, whether it’s through trades or signing players.”

As Windhorst points out, given that no trade request from Lillard seems imminent, teams like the Heat – who were reportedly preparing to make a trade offer for the Blazers star – might have to move forward with their other offseason moves rather than hoping that Lillard’s situation will change.

“This is going to potentially cause some teams that were going to make offers for him to have move on with business,” Windhorst said. “They were waiting to see whether Dame Lillard was going to be on the market before they started to make moves this week. Now, some teams are going to have to make a decision either go forward or wait around. Lillard is going to wait around.”

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Pelicans have made center Jonas Valanciunas available in trade talks as they seek out a big man who is more mobile and more of a rim protector, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, who says New Orleans inquired with the Cavaliers about Jarrett Allen‘s availability. Cleveland has reportedly rebuffed all inquiries for Allen.
  • Clippers swingman Norman Powell is another veteran who is considered available on the trade market, Fischer reports, adding that Powell’s name popped up in rumors when L.A. was trying to acquire Chris Paul from Washington.
  • Speaking of the Wizards, even after flipping Paul to Golden State, they’re still looking to move on from one or two more of their veteran point guards. Sources tell Fischer that Washington is seeking draft assets for Monte Morris and/or Delon Wright.
  • The Rockets have been engaging in more trade talks involving Kenyon Martin Jr. since last week’s draft, Fischer writes. While it’s not clear exactly which teams Houston has talked to recently, Fischer says the Hawks, Suns, and Nets have been cited as possible suitors for Martin dating back to the trade deadline in February.

Suns, Jazz, Mavericks Join Pursuit Of Tobias Harris

The Sixers‘ options for a potential Tobias Harris trade are growing, but they seem more inclined to keep him, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Pompey hears that the Suns, Jazz and Mavericks have expressed interest in acquiring the veteran forward, joining the Cavaliers, Pacers and Pistons, who Pompey mentioned as possible trade partners prior to the draft.

A source tells Pompey that Phoenix views Harris as an ideal complement to its new Big Three of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal. The Suns are hoping to get a deal done before the new Collective Bargaining Agreement takes effect on July 1 to avoid restrictions involving the second tax apron.

The main impediment to a deal with Phoenix is that the Sixers would have to take Deandre Ayton in return, Pompey adds. Philadelphia doesn’t have any use for another center with Joel Embiid on the roster, especially with Ayton owed $102MM over the next three years.

The Sixers wouldn’t be interested in any other trade package the Suns could offer, according to Pompey. His source says Phoenix wants to add a third team to facilitate the deal, but Philadelphia hasn’t been willing to pursue that option.

The Pacers made overtures about Harris during Thursday’s draft, but sources tell Pompey they don’t have enough assets to make a deal work. Pompey is skeptical that Indiana can change that in light of Harris’ $39.2MM salary for the upcoming season.

Pompey also hears that Sixers management is overvaluing Harris in trade talks and asking for outrageous compensation in return. A source tells him that when the Cavaliers inquired about Harris, Philadelphia responded by asking for Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley and a draft pick. A source told Pompey that Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey “isn’t negotiating in good faith.”

Philadelphia appears determined to keep Harris, Pompey adds, knowing that more trade opportunities will arise before the deadline in February. A source told Pompey that Nick Nurse is looking forward to coaching Harris and plans to give him a larger role in the offense than Doc Rivers did.

Trade Rumors: Siakam, J. Allen, Mavs, Suggs, Suns

There’s a “growing sentiment” that Pascal Siakam wouldn’t re-sign with a team that trades for him, according to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT (Twitter link), who reports that the forward’s preference is to remain with the Raptors for the long term.

Siakam will be entering a contract year in 2023/24, so a club that gives up a significant package to acquire him would probably want assurances that he’d be willing to stick around for more than one season, even if he doesn’t agree to an extension right away.

It’s worth noting that Siakam would qualify for a super-max contract – worth 35% of the cap instead of 30% – if he makes an All-NBA team in 2024, but would become ineligible for the super-max if he’s traded. That’s not to say that his reported desire to remain in Toronto isn’t genuine, but he’d also have contract-related reasons to want to stay put. Either way, his apparent stance figures to reduce his trade value for the Raptors.

Here are a few more trade-related rumors and notes from around the NBA:

  • The Cavaliers are receiving trade inquiries and offers for center Jarrett Allen, but have rebuffed those overtures, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, who reports that the Mavericks are among the teams that have reached out to Cleveland about Allen. As Fedor notes (via Twitter), the Cavs are scouring the trade market for a two-way wing and don’t have a ton of assets to offer for one without including a core player like Allen, but they don’t appear inclined to go that route at this point.
  • The Lakers would be among the teams with interest in Magic guard Jalen Suggs if the team were to make him available, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. There’s no indication that Orlando is considering moving Suggs, but if the club drafts a guard or two in the lottery tonight, its backcourt would be getting a little crowded.
  • The Suns had the option of trading Chris Paul to the Warriors for a Jordan Poole-centric package like the one the Wizards received, says John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link). However, according to Gambadoro, Phoenix determined that Bradley Beal was a better fit for what the club wanted.
  • Deandre Ayton isn’t a lock to open the 2023/24 season in Phoenix, but new Suns head coach Frank Vogel “loves” the young Suns center, who reminds him of a more skilled Roy Hibbert, according to Gambadoro (Twitter link). Vogel’s fondness for Ayton is a factor in favor of him sticking with the Suns, Gambadoro adds.

Cavaliers Won’t Consider Replacing J.B. Bickerstaff

The Cavaliers‘ moves this summer won’t include a coaching change, writes Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. Speaking to reporters on Friday, president of basketball operations Koby Altman quashed any rumors that the team might consider replacing head coach J.B. Bickerstaff following a first-round playoff exit.

“Yes. Absolutely,” Altman replied when asked if the organization remains committed to Bickerstaff. “There’s no question about that. I mean, look what he’s accomplished. It’s actually funny, I’ve not heard that, maybe because I haven’t been reading or not on Twitter, but I’ve not heard that noise. So that’s not even a question. […] End that speculation.”

Bickerstaff led the Cavaliers to a fourth-place finish in the East, and their 51 wins were the most since LeBron James left for Los Angeles in 2018. Altman said he worked with Bickerstaff on exit interviews this week, giving advice to players on how to improve during the offseason. He also credited Bickerstaff with building a culture in the post-LeBron era.

“You can’t fluke your way into 51 wins,” Altman said. “You can’t fluke your way into the No. 1 defensive rating in the NBA. That’s coaching. I know we have great defensive personnel, but you have to have buy-in from them, and that comes from the head coach. And so we’re extremely happy with J.B. and the job he’s done.”

Altman addressed several other topics in his session with the media:

  • The Cavaliers won’t panic after their short playoff run, and Altman said fans shouldn’t expect “sweeping changes” this summer, Russo adds. Many of the team’s rotation players were in the playoffs for the first time, and Altman believes the organization can build on that experience. “I also think the strength of our roster is the fact that we’re positioned really well for the future with the guys that are most important under contract,” he said. “… We have to look at what’s the piece that we really want to improve and enhance and then use the vehicle that we have to go do that.”
  • Re-signing free agent forward Caris LeVert will be an offseason priority, Altman said. Russo notes that LeVert’s role with the team changed after Donovan Mitchell was acquired last summer, and he evolved into a sixth man and secondary playmaker as the season progressed. “He’s a big part of our attack,” Altman said, “and it’s a big reason why, at the deadline, I didn’t do anything because he was a big part of what we were doing and I didn’t want to lose that. So we’d be fortunate to have him back.”
  • Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley were outplayed during the Knicks’ series, but there’s no thought of splitting up the big man duo, Altman adds. Allen is signed for three more years at $20MM annually, and Mobley is still on his rookie contract. “When you have the level of success that you’ve had with those two, it’s really hard to say, ‘Oh let’s just break them up based off one playoff series,’” Altman stated.