Marcelo Huertas

World Cup Notes: Greece, Banchero, Watanabe, Huertas

Team USA defeated Greece 108-86 in one of its FIBA World Cup tuneups. Coach Steve Kerr expects a much tougher matchup when the two teams square off again in the Philippines on Monday in the USA’s second World Cup game.

“We expect Greece to be better than they were one week ago. … They played a lot better against us after the first quarter and I think they will come in with more confidence than they had last time and we have to be ready for them,” Kerr said. “They gave us some trouble in the second half, but they made a couple of good runs. They are very physical, and they are well-coached, so we are ready for a tough game”.

We have more from the World Cup:

  • Paolo Banchero, who scored 21 points as a reserve for Team USA against New Zealand, is impressed by the atmosphere in Manila, Aris Barkis of relays. “It feels awesome, the energy is crazy. From the hotel lobby to this awesome arena, it’s a great environment,” the Magic forward said. “Coming off the bench, me and some other guys we want to be live and be ready to go as soon as we check in.”
  • Yuta Watanabe, who signed with the Suns this offseason, overcame an ailment to lift Japan past Finland 98-88 Sunday in FIBA World Cup group play at Okinawa, Japan, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic notes. Watanabe, who is battling a right ankle sprain, only scored four points but two of them came on free throws in the final minute to close out the upset win.
  • Brazil’s Marcelo Huertas became the second-oldest player to suit up in the World Cup in his team’s 100-59 victory over Iran on Saturday, according to The Associated Press. The former NBA player did more than just appear in the contest, scoring 10 points. Huertas is 40 years and three months old, The oldest player in tournament history was Eduardo Mingas, who was 40 years and seven months old when playing for Angola at the 2019 World Cup. Huertas played 76 games for the Lakers from 2015-17.

Ray McCallum To Play In Spain

Free agent guard Ray McCallum is headed overseas after spending parts of the last four seasons on NBA rosters. As Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays, Spanish team Unicaja Malaga has announced the signing of McCallum.

Unicaja Malaga initially agreed last month to sign another former NBA guard, Marcelo Huertas. However, as international basketball reporter David Pick reported last week (via Twitter), Huertas broke off that agreement and joined Baskonia. According to Pick, (via Twitter), McCallum’s new deal with Malaga – worth approximately $650K – is very similar to the one the team originally offered Huertas.

McCallum, the 36th overall pick in the 2013 draft, spent his first two NBA seasons with the Kings, then played for the Spurs and Grizzlies in 2015/16. A year ago, McCallum was in camp with the Pistons but failed to earn a regular season roster spot.

Although he signed a pair of 10-day contracts with the Hornets in February, the 26-year-old didn’t appear in a game for Charlotte and spent most of the season with the Grand Rapids Drive in the G League. McCallum averaged 17.6 PPG, 7.0 APG, and 5.8 RPG in 43 G League contests.

International Notes: Huertas, Hamilton, Langford

Veteran guard Marcelo Huertas, who appeared in 76 games for the Lakers over the last two seasons, appears to be headed back overseas. According to international basketball journalist David Pick (Twitter link), Huertas is joining Spanish team Unicaja Malaga, this year’s EuroCup winners.

Huertas averaged 16.4 MPG in 53 contests during his first year in L.A., but saw his role reduced in 2016/17, playing in just 23 games before he was traded to Houston. The Rockets immediately waived Huertas, giving him the opportunity to return to Europe.

Here are a few more updates on international transactions with NBA connections:

  • Having been traded by the Nets and waived by the Raptors already this month, center Justin Hamilton appears poised to land in China. Eurohoops passes along a report from Sport 24 that suggests Hamilton is on the verge of signing a lucrative contract with the Beijing Ducks.
  • Another notable player is making the move to China, according to David Pick, who reports (via Twitter) that Euroleague scoring leader Keith Langford has agreed to a $2.1MM deal with the Shenzhen Leopards. Langford, 33, has had a long and successful career overseas, appearing only briefly in the NBA with the Spurs in 2007/08.
  • Veteran forward Cory Jefferson has signed in Italy with EA7 Milano, a source tells David Pick (Twitter link). It’ll be the first stint in Europe for Jefferson, who played for the Nets and Suns between 2014 and 2016 and was in camp with the Cavaliers last year.

Rockets Trade Tyler Ennis To Lakers

6:40pm: The Lakers also received the draft rights to Brad Newley in the deal, tweets Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News. Drafted in 2007, the 32-year-old swingman plays for AEK Athens in Greece.

6:28pm: The deal is official, the Lakers announced (Twitter link). Meanwhile, the Rockets have waived Huertas.

1:58pm: The Rockets have agreed to a deal that will send Tyler Ennis to the Lakers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (via Twitter). Wojnarowski reports that Houston will receive Marcelo Huertas from Los Angeles, but that the Rockets will waive Huertas after acquiring him.

Ennis is eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer, while Huertas had a non-guaranteed salary for 2017/18, so both players were essentially on expiring contracts. The Rockets were likely planning on waiving Ennis after the deadline, so by acquiring and waiving Huertas instead, they’ll create a tiny bit of extra cap room as they peruse the buyout market. Ennis is earning approximately $233K more than Huertas this season.

From the Lakers’ perspective, Huertas had seen his playing time reduced significantly this season, having averaged 10.3 MPG in just 23 contests. He apparently wasn’t part of the team’s long-term plans, so L.A. decided to take a flier on Ennis, who could be re-signed at a modest price in the offseason if the team likes what it sees down the stretch.

Pacific Notes: Buss, Lakers, Karl, Tolliver

Lakers president and part owner Jeanie Buss will face a major decision after the season ends, writes Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. Buss could signal a change of direction for the franchise by firing her brother Jim, who serves as executive vice president, and GM Mitch Kupchak. It has been nearly three years since Jim Buss promised to resign if the Lakers weren’t “contending for a championship” in three or four seasons. Coming off three of the worst seasons in franchise history, L.A. sparked some hope with a 10-10 start, but has lost 12 of its last 13 games. “We’re like every other team that we will play a season and we will assess that season when it’s over,” Jeanie Buss said. “No reason to speculate on any possible changes. It’s a waste of time to speculate.”

There’s more news from the Pacific Division:

  • Nearly all of the Lakers‘ offseason signees are now eligible to be included in trades, notes Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. Power forward Thomas Robinson passed his deadline December 23rd, a day after Metta World PeaceMarcelo Huertas, Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov and Jordan Clarkson all became eligible on December 15th. The one exception is backup center Tarik Black, who cannot be traded until January 15th. League rules stipulate a later deadline for him because he received at least a 20% salary increase while re-signing with Bird rights.
  • Critical comments about the time he spent coaching the Kings were removed from George Karl’s new book, according to ESPN’s Marc J. Spears and Marc Stein. A proof copy of “Furious George” obtained by the network included negative passages about DeMarcus Cousins, GM Vlade Divac and owner Vivek Ranadive. Karl said he had “not authorized” those parts of the book to be included. Sources told ESPN that Karl agreed to refrain from critical statements about the organization in the settlement he reached when he left the team after last season.
  • Anthony Tolliver is earning more playing time with the Kings, relays James Ham of CSNBayArea. The well-traveled forward signed with Sacramento in July for $16MM over two seasons. He has been in and out of the rotation during the first two months of the season, but has found a larger role in the past week. “Professional — he can sit five games in a row and his name is called and he’s going to come out and play like it’s his last game,” Cousins said. “True professional. He’s always ready to play.”

Pacific Notes: Booker, Suns, Griffin, Huertas

At age 19, Suns guard Devin Booker could still have upwards of two decades of his NBA career ahead of him. For now though, he envisions playing his whole career in Phoenix, if given the opportunity to do so, as he recently told Jeramie McPeek of SLAM Magazine.

“I love it in Phoenix and I want to be one of those guys that gets drafted by one team and stays there the whole time,” said Booker, the Suns’ 13th overall pick in the 2015 draft. “You know, they turn around the franchise, and they get love for that in that city like they’re the mayor… People still wear Steve Nash jerseys here. That’s definitely something I want to be.”

Of course, a player’s career goals at age 19 could end up being much different than his goals at age 29 or 39, so it will be interesting to see if Booker does indeed stick with the Suns for most or all of his career. He’s under contract through the 2018/19 season, and will be eligible for a rookie-scale extension in ’18.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • In a recent interview, Clippers head coach and president Doc Rivers essentially called trade inquiries on Blake Griffin a non-starter, suggesting that the star forward isn’t going anywhere. Still, rumors persist that the Thunder – and other teams – will target Griffin in free agency in 2017, or even before then. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders examines those rumblings, exploring whether the Clippers will have to consider their options with Griffin prior to the 2017 trade deadline.
  • Now that Marcelo Huertas‘ two-year deal with the Lakers is official, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders has provided the specific details on Huertas’ contract. The point guard will earn $1.5MM guaranteed this season, then has a $1,567,500 non-guaranteed salary on the books for 2017/18.
  • While the “villain” tag followed Kevin Durant around this summer following his decision to sign with the Warriors, head coach Steve Kerr called that notion “absurd” during an interview with Michelle Beadle and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. “This is one of the most likeable people in this league. He’s just an awesome human being. What he did in Oklahoma City was just amazing for that community,” Kerr said. “Circumstances kind of dictate, I guess, that some people are going to see him as a villain. But it’s only because he decided to go elsewhere to play. He wanted to change his scenery, he wanted a new challenge.”

Lakers Re-Sign Marcelo Huertas

AUGUST 5: The Lakers have officially signed Huertas, the team announced today in a press release.

“Marcelo’s understanding of the game, unselfishness, and professionalism are assets to our team and he has an uncanny ability to change the pace of the game,” GM Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. “He’s fundamentally solid but also has a flair and excitement to his style of play, which makes him a fan favorite.”

Estimates from Bobby Marks of The Vertical and Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders put the value of Huertas deal at about $1.6-1.7MM annually over two years.

JULY 7: The Lakers and restricted free agent Marcelo Huertas have agreed to a deal that will keep the point guard in Los Angeles, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports. It’s a two-year pact, Wojnarowski notes, but the scribe does not relay the amount, nor what guarantees, if any, are included in the arrangement.

Los Angeles had tendered the 33-year-old a qualifying offer worth $1,074,636, which made Huertas a restricted free agent. He’ll be the the third-string point guard behind recently acquired Jose Calderon and 2015 lottery pick D’Angelo Russell, the scribe adds.

Huertas appeared in 53 games for the Lakers in 2015/16, averaging 4.5 points, 1.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 16.4 minutes per outing. His shooting numbers on the campaign were .422/.262/.931.

Qualifying Offers: Clarkson, Dellavedova, Galloway

Players eligible for restricted free agency don’t become restricted free agents by default. In order to make a player a restricted free agent, a team must extend a qualifying offer to him. The qualifying offer, which is essentially just a one-year contract offer, varies in amount depending on a player’s service time and previous contract status. A qualifying offer is designed to give a player’s team the right of first refusal. Because the qualifying offer acts as the first formal contract offer a free agent receives, his team then receives the option to match any offer sheet the player signs with another club. You can read more about qualifying offers here.

Here’s the latest QO activity from around the league:

  • The Cavaliers tendered point guard Matthew Dellavedova a qualifying offer worth $1,434,095, making him a restricted free agent, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets.
  • The Lakers have submitted qualifying offers to Jordan Clarkson ($2,725,003), Tarik Black ($1,180,431) and Marcelo Huertas ($1,074,636) making all three restricted free agents, but declined to tender one to Ryan Kelly ($2,155,313), making him an unrestricted free agent, Pincus tweets.
  • The Knicks submitted a qualifying offer to guard Langston Galloway ($2,725,003), but declined to do so for forward Cleanthony Early ($1,180,431), making him an unrestricted free agent, Pincus relays (via Twitter).

Lakers Rumors: Bryant, Scott, Clarkson, Young

After Kobe Bryant gave the NBA an unforgettable 60-point sendoff Wednesday, the Lakers faced the first day of the post-Kobe era, writes Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News“Sometimes you cannot help but think about it,” coach Byron Scott said of his 17-65 team. “When you have the type of season that you have, changes will be made.” The changes may start with Scott, who has one year left on his contract, although Medina says the organization recognizes the difficult position he faced with trying to balance a young roster and Bryant’s retirement tour.

The Lakers will have an estimated $55MM in cap space this summer, with much of that being opened by the end of Bryant’s $25MM contract and the expiration of Roy Hibbert‘s $15.5MM deal. The only guaranteed contracts for next year belong to D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., Anthony Brown, Nick Young and Lou Williams. The Lakers would like to keep restricted free agent Jordan Clarkson, and Brandon Bass may be back with a $3.1MM player option. More difficult decisions surround Hibbert, Metta World Peace, Marcelo Huertas, Tarik Black, Ryan Kelly and Robert Sacre.

There’s more out of Los Angeles:

  • Clarkson believes he will be a Laker again next season, Medina tweets. Clarkson made $845,059 this year, and L.A. must make a $3.2MM qualifying offer to retain the right to match competing bids through the Gilbert Arenas Provision. “I feel confident I’ll be back here,” Clarkson said in today’s exit interview. “I want to be here.”
  • Two other free agents also prefer to remain Lakers, Medina relays on Twitter. “This is a great place for me and I love it here,” said Sacre, who made $981,348 this season in the final year of his contract (link). “I’d love to be a part of this process of flipping it around,” said Kelly, who earned more than $1.724MM this season. “But we’ll see (link).”
  • Young may not be brought back despite having two years and more than $11MM left on his contract, but he understands the need for changes, Medina writes in a separate story. “You never know what’s gonna happen, but you know something’s got to happen,” Young said. “I know the Lakers are gonna make decisions for the Lakers. We did win 17 games after all.” L.A. expected to try to deal Young in the offseason and may seek to negotiate a buyout if trade talks are unsuccessful.

Lakers Likely To Keep World Peace, Black, Huertas

The Lakers are likely to retain Metta World Peace, Tarik Black and Marcelo Huertas through Thursday, the final day the team can waive their non-guaranteed contracts before they become fully guaranteed, a source tells Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. The team has 12 other players on fully guaranteed deals, so locking in three more limits the club’s roster flexibility. The trio of non-guaranteed Lakers are on minimum-salary deals, though the cost of each to the team is different because of their varying levels of experience.

World Peace’s contract calls for a full-season salary of $1,499,187, since he’s a 15-year veteran, though the Lakers would be responsible for only $947,276 if they indeed keep him. Black, as a one-year vet, is scheduled to make $845,059 for the full season, while Huertas is drawing the rookie minimum of $525,093. They’ve already earned roughly 42% of their respective salaries by virtue of sticking on the roster as long as they have, and while the Lakers could end up paying no more than that percentage if they waive them, it appears they’ve decided against doing so.

The Lakers are fond of World Peace’s locker room mentorship, according to Bresnahan, who points out that his playing time in Tuesday’s blowout loss to the Warriors represented his first appearance after a string of 14 consecutive DNPs. Huertas, who’s seen somewhat more action even as he’s battled hamstring injuries, set a career high with nine points Tuesday, fellow Times scribe Eric Pincus notes (Twitter link).

The case of Black is slightly more complicated. He’s been on D-League assignment three times in the past month, and coach Byron Scott has turned more often to veteran Brandon Bass at his position.

“Brandon Bass is playing really well right now,” Scott said, according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. “If he starts to slump, then I’ll turn to Tarik.”

The Lakers like Black’s energy, strength and positivity, but they want to see him work on his mid-range and post-up skills and become more of a physical presence inside, Medina notes. Still, it appears he’s done enough to secure his full-season salary. He, like Huertas and World Peace, is on a contract that expires at season’s end.

Do you think the Lakers should keep all three of their non-guaranteed players, or would they be better served to open a roster spot or two? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.