Justin Harper

Sixers Not Re-Signing Justin Harper

Justin Harper‘s 10-day contract with the Sixers expired overnight, and he won’t receive a second deal with the team at this time, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Following his stint in Philadelphia, Harper will rejoin the D-League’s Los Angeles D-Fenders.

“It’s a great team and a great group of guys,” Harper said of the 76ers. “I was just fortunate for the opportunity to be a part of it. If it’s not for the long term, I still enjoyed my time with the team when I was here.”

Harper, the 32nd overall pick in the 2011 draft, made his NBA debut way back in 2011 for the Magic, but was out of the league for a few years following his rookie season and had only appeared in 19 total regular season games in his career before catching on with the Sixers this month. Appearing in three games for Philadelphia during his 10-day stint with the club, Harper chipped in with 4.0 PPG and 2.0 RPG.

Harper’s return to the D-Fenders will be a welcome one for the No. 1 seed in the NBADL’s Western Conference. The Lakers’ D-League affiliate is 29-13 for the season, but has lost three of four games since Harper joined the Sixers. The 27-year-old earned an NBADL All-Star nod a year ago, and has been arguably even better this season, averaging 16.2 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and a .401 3PT% in 37 D-League games.

As for the Sixers, they now have 15 players on their roster — they had been carrying an extra man, having received an injury exemption as a result of carrying four players with long-term injuries. Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Tiago Splitter, and Jerryd Bayless all remain sidelined, so the Sixers should still be able to continue taking advantage of that exemption if they so choose. Philadelphia could also open up a roster spot later this week if Shawn Long isn’t re-signed to a second 10-day contract.

Sixers Notes: Okafor, Splitter, Brown, Silver

Despite a lingering knee injury, Jahlil Okafor hasn’t considered shutting down his season, Jessica Camerato of CSN reports (Twitter link). Okafor’s been experiencing soreness ever since a March 2016 surgery, but the former No. 3 overall pick will be relied upon in Nerlens Noel‘s and Joel Embiid‘s absence.

“We just rest and do treatment whenever we think is necessary, and just go from there.” Okafor told Keith Pompey of Philly.com.

More from Philadelphia…

  • Tiago Splitter could spend part of his rehabilitation process with the Delaware 87ers, as Keith Pompey relayed in the article linked above. Splitter, who has been sidelined with a calf injury all season, was acquired in exchange for Ersan Ilyasova at the trade deadline. “We are discussing his return to play. Some of it could look like involvement with D-League stuff, practicing, maybe playing,” coach Brett Brown said. “It’s a vehicle to return to play. He hasn’t played basketball for a year. I think the path to return to play can take different looks. That’s one of them that I just suggested.”
  • Commissioner Adam Silver told Brian Seltzer of NBA.com that he is excited about the Sixers’ progress this season. “It’s fun coming to games here. Just as I was walking through the tunnel pre-game, I ran into Allen Iverson and Julius Erving. [It’s] nice to see that they’re back, they’re believers, and I am, too,” Silver said. “This is a great sports town. Understandably, the fans are very demanding here. They expect to see a great product on the floor. I know the ownership is committed to that. It takes time to build a great franchise.”
  • The Sixers have shifted their focus toward acquiring a top lottery draft pick, Keith Pompey of Philly.com writes. After shipping out Ilyasova and Noel at the deadline, they’ve recently given playing opportunities to Justin Harper and Shawn Long“The realities of our roster are very clear to everybody. There’s no mystery to what our roster is right now,” coach Brown said. “It’s going to take some extra effort and extra luck in finding ways to compete.”

Sixers Sign Justin Harper To 10-Day Deal

MARCH 3, 9:11am: The signing is official, tweets Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

MARCH 2, 12:30pm: The Sixers intend to sign D-League forward Justin Harper to a 10-day contract, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (via Twitter). Philadelphia had an opening on its roster after reaching a buyout agreement with Andrew Bogut earlier this week, so the club won’t have to make a corresponding roster move to sign Harper.

Harper, the 32nd overall pick in the 2011 draft, made his NBA debut way back in 2011 for the Magic, but was out of the league for a few years following his rookie season and has only appeared in 19 total regular season games in his career. The Richmond alum has played well in the D-League for the Los Angeles D-Fenders in recent years, however.

Harper earned an NBADL All-Star nod a year ago, and has been arguably even better this season, averaging 16.2 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and a .401 3PT% in 37 games. His call-up will represent a tough loss for the D-Fenders, who have a 28-10 record and hold the top seed in the D-League’s Western Conference.

For the Sixers, Harper could get a chance at some playing time during his initial 10-day stint in Philadelphia, given the team’s current lack of depth at the four. With Ersan Ilyasova having been sent to the Hawks prior to the trade deadline, Dario Saric has been handling an expanded role at power forward.

Free Agent Notes: Durant, Rockets, Clippers

Kevin Durant would give himself a better chance at winning a title if he were to leave the Thunder and join the Warriors or sign with an Eastern Conference team, Bill Simmons of The Ringer writes. Many believe that Durant will sign a two-year deal with OKC that contains a player option for year two, as was reported earlier this week.

Simmons offers an unconventional viewpoint on Durant’s impending decision. Two years ago, Durant signed a $300MM deal with Nike. At the time, he and LeBron James had the best selling sneakers among all NBA players, Simmons points out. The 2014 MVP then injured his foot and missed a significant amount of time during the 2014/15 campaign. Durant’s comeback 2015/16 season was overshadowed by Kobe Bryant‘s retirement and the Warriors’ historic 73-9 record. Now, the conversation is between Nike with James and the Jordan Brand and Under Armour with Stephen Curry, Simmons adds. Simmons argues that Durant, his representatives and Nike know they won’t be competing with the top brands unless Durant wins a ring or he leaves the Thunder and he speculates that if Nike had its way, Durant would sign elsewhere this summer.

The piece, which is must-read, is a reminder that the NBA is a business and there are several off the court factors that play into basketball decisions. Selling sneakers likely won’t be the primary force that drives Durant to stay or leave, but it’s an interesting perspective nonetheless.

Here’s more on the NBA’s upcoming free agency:

Western Notes: Carter, Harper, Lee

Swingman Vince Carter appreciates the freedom the Grizzlies have allowed him to express himself on the court and off, which is a big reason why he decided to sign with the team in 2014, David Aldridge of NBA.com writes. When asked what he looks for in an organization, Carter told Aldridge, “Like anything else, you just have to do your research. There’s a lot of guys in the league that I’ve played with that are now either young coaches or whatever. So you just have to do your research. We played year to year now. You see what’s going on. Now, I look for what fits right with my style. That’s kind of how I approach it. I think everybody’s approach is different, of course. For me, it’s just who will allow me to be me. I like to help the young guys do that. So I bring that to the table, and that’s what Coach has allowed me to do here, while still playing. One thing that I’ll never do is overstep my boundaries. I’m not trying to be the coach, be the voice. I’m just trying to make the game easier. As a player, you hear what the coaches say, but sometimes, when another teammate delivers it, it’s a little different. It makes sense, or hits home.

Here’s more from out west:

  • The 39-year-old’s contract is partially guaranteed for 2016/17, the final one in his current deal, and despite his love for helping younger players develop, Carter doesn’t envision himself making the jump to the coaching ranks when his playing career is over, Aldridge adds in the same piece. “I think I’d rather do some broadcasting, to be honest with you,” Carter said. “I think that’s where my passion lies. I enjoy coaching. I enjoying Coach allowing me to coach, or [offer] words of wisdom. I don’t know if it’s coaching. Just helping, being another coach on the floor, or just off the bench, or anything. Sometimes it’s easy to translate and relay the message he’s trying to portray, or make. So I think I enjoy that part of it. But I think I want to do some broadcasting.
  • David Lee signed with the Mavericks after agreeing to a buyout with Boston because he believed they were the best fit for him, a move that has paid off for both him and the team thus far, Adi Joseph of The Sporting News writes. “I saw the possibilities on paper, thought it’d be a great fit on both sides. But you know, you’ve just got to make it [happen],” Lee told Joseph. “It’s still, until you go out there and play, you never know how you’re going to feel with the guys and how things are going to work. But I think it’s been a tremendous fit here, and I’m just excited — excited to be here and excited to give it everything I have for them this year.”
  • Justin Harper has rejoined the Lakers‘ D-League affiliate after the Pistons elected not to ink him for the remainder of the season when his second 10-day contract with the team expired, Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor tweets.

Central Notes: Vasquez, Harris, Harper, LeBron

Greivis Vasquez is determined to return to game action before season’s end, calling the Bucks a “class act” for their assistance as he rehabilitates from the right ankle surgery he had three months ago today, as Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel details. Vasquez, who hired agent Alex Saratsis of Octagon earlier this year, is headed for free agency this summer and argues the injury didn’t have a net effect on the contract he’ll be able to command.

“I feel I didn’t lose value, but I didn’t gain value,” Vasquez said. “I feel people know what I can do. My game is not based on athleticism. I’m not jumping over guys. It’s an IQ game. I wasn’t able to do what I usually do, being limited with my injury. Surgery was needed. Now I feel much better. The team I want to show that I’m healthy is this team. Because every team I’ve been with, I got that team better. I was in Toronto; we got better. New Orleans, we got better. Memphis, we got better.”

Vasquez, an offseason trade acquisition, has appeared in only 16 games for the disappointing Bucks this season. See more from the Central Division:

  • Stan Van Gundy expected it would be challenging to integrate Tobias Harris into the Pistons, as the coach usually expects in the wake of a trade, but it’s been a smooth transition so far, Van Gundy told Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today Sports. That’s been especially so after Van Gundy switched Harris to power forward after a brief experiment with him at small forward, the coach also said. “He’s unselfish. He’s been efficient,” Van Gundy told Zillgitt. “He hasn’t needed an inordinate amount of shots to get his stuff done. He moves the ball pretty well. It’s actually been pretty easy.”
  • Justin Harper‘s second 10-day contract with the Pistons expired overnight, so the backup power forward is now a free agent. The Pistons would have to sign him for the rest of the season if they were to bring him back, since two 10-day deals are the limit.
  • LeBron James usually doesn’t make comments that cast a harsh light on fellow members of the Klutch Sports Agency, but he praised Cavs deadline pickup Channing Frye for his willingness to tangle with Klutch client Trey Lyles in Monday’s game, an incident that prompted ejections for both Frye and Lyles, notes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.

Pistons Notes: Roster, Motiejunas, Harris

It appears that the Pistons will not make another major roster move, such as adding a player on the buyout market, and they may elect to keep the 15 current players under contract as they look to make a playoff push, David Mayo of Mlive.com writes. Mayo adds that no decision has been made yet on Justin Harper, who is playing on a 10-day contract, his second with the team this season. If the Pistons want to retain Harper, they will need to sign him through the remainder of the season.

Here’s more from Detroit:

  • If Donatas Motiejunas were in the middle of his rookie deal rather than the end of it, the Pistons would have likely gone through with their trade with Houston, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press speculates. Ellis believes that the team is still in need of a versatile big man and the acquisition of Motiejunas would have pushed the team toward the top of the Eastern Conference.
  • Detroit was worried about the Tobias HarrisMarcus Morris pairing on the court due to the similarities in their style of play, but the duo has fit well together since the team acquired Harris, Mayo writes in a separate piece. “I think they’ve really helped each other,” executive/coach Stan Van Gundy said. “They sort of look for each other. They’re both unselfish guys. I think it’s been good.”
  • Van Gundy believes Harris’ unselfishness allowed him to fit in with the team right away, Mayo adds in that same piece. “[Harris] doesn’t pound the ball, he doesn’t take a lot of dribbles. He makes his move, he shoots it, or he moves the ball and we can play. So I think it’s been pretty easy for our guys to adapt to playing with him,” Van Gundy said.

Pistons Sign Justin Harper To Second 10-Day

SATURDAY, 11:58am: The signing is official, the Pistons announced today.

FRIDAY, 11:38am: The Pistons will sign Justin Harper to another 10-day contract, coach/executive Stan Van Gundy said today, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com (Twitter link). That’s no surprise, since Van Gundy remarked two days ago that he was leaning toward another 10-day deal with the power forward, as Rod Beard of The Detroit News wrote. Harper’s first 10-day deal expires tonight. The latest pact will represent a tiny investment of $49,709 with a larger decision looming afterward, since Detroit will have to either re-sign him for the season or let him walk.

Harper, 26, has averaged 3.3 points in 7.7 minutes per game across three appearances so far with the Pistons, who’ve given him his first regular season NBA action in four years. He played at a handful of stops overseas and in the D-League in between, and he was with the Nets for the preseason this past fall.

The collapse of Detroit’s trade for power forward Donatas Motiejunas and injuries to power forward Anthony Tolliver and small forward Stanley Johnson prompted the Pistons to turn to Harper. Tolliver is liable to miss two more weeks while Johnson is out through at least the weekend, Langlois tweets.

Pistons Notes: Harris, Motiejunas, Morris

The Pistons had reportedly been targeting power forwards for free agency this summer, but with the acquisition of Tobias Harris, coach/executive Stan Van Gundy would feel comfortable if Harris and Marcus Morris were the team’s starters at the two forward positions beyond this season, notes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com“I think they’re both starting-caliber guys. It all depends on where your roster goes and everything else,” Van Gundy said. “You’d love to get to the point where you have starting-caliber guys coming off your bench. But certainly if we have to go into next season and beyond with those two guys as our starting forwards, we’re pretty happy with that.”

In other news regarding the Pistons:

  • Donatas Motiejunas believes a change of heart, instead of a medical issue, was the reason his trade from the Rockets was voided, according to an item in BasketNews.lt that Dan Feldman of NBCSports.com relays. According to the translation of Motiejunas’ quotes, he felt he passed the team’s physical examinations, Feldman continues. The power forward and shooting guard Marcus Thornton, since waived by Houston, were traded to Detroit in a three-team deal in which the Rockets would have received Detroit’s first-round pick, with some protections. “Those 48 hours actually just let the team decide whether they want you or not,” Motiejunas reportedly said. “The Pistons announced I did not pass the medical, although I surely did pass it and played even before it. … The injury was a pretense to call off the trade. They changed their minds.” 
  • Morris is making a case for one of the NBA’s All-Defensive teams, according to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Morris is a hard-nosed one-on-one defender, though he doesn’t record many steals or blocks, Ellis continues. Raptors coach Dwane Casey told Ellis and other media members on Sunday that Morris has a defensive presence. “Most of all, it’s his defensive toughness,” Casey said. “With the defensive disposition he brings, it’s not like you’re just going to catch the ball down there and go to work on him in the low post.”
  • Power forward Justin Harper helped his case for another 10-day contract by hitting three 3-pointers against the Raptors, Ellis writes in a separate notebook. Harper, who officially signed on February 24th, has one more game remaining against the Spurs on Wednesday before his 10-day expires. It would not be a surprise if Harper gets another 10-day, David Mayo of MLive.com writes, but the team will also scour the waiver wire for a veteran point guard or power forward.

Pistons Sign Justin Harper To 10-Day Contract

WEDNESDAY, 8:55am: The signing is official, the team announced via press release. The contract will cover four games, against the Sixers, Raptors, Bucks and Spurs. Meanwhile, the Pistons will re-evaluate Johnson in a week, the team also announced.

TUESDAY, 12:03am: The Pistons plan to sign power forward Justin Harper of the Los Angeles D-Fenders to a 10-day contract, league sources tell The Vertical’s Shams Charania (Twitter link). The 6’10” Harper was averaging 14.8 points and 5.0 rebounds for the D-Fenders, Chris Reichert of Upside Motor tweets.

The 26-year-old Harper has not appeared in an NBA game since the 2011/12 season, when he played 14 games with the Magic. He was on the Nets’ training camp roster last fall but was waived after appearing in six preseason games.

A series of events led to the Pistons’ interest in Harper. They acquired power forward Donatas Motiejunas from the Rockets in a three-team deal at the trade deadline but it was voided on Monday because Motiejunas didn’t pass the team’s physicals. The voided trade left the team with an open roster spot.

Over the past two games, the Pistons have suffered injuries to their frontcourt. Power forward Anthony Tolliver is expected to miss two to four weeks with a knee injury, and rookie swingman Stanley Johnson sprained his shoulder against the Cavaliers on Monday night, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com.