Marcus Smart

Fischer’s Latest: Bridges, Bulls, Kings, Magic, Smart, More

Free agent forward Miles Bridges‘ could receive $30MM+ annually on his next contract, league sources tell Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. However, it remains to be seen if that money will come from the Hornets or another team.

According to Fischer, Charlotte is “believed to be open” to sign-and-trade concepts involving Bridges if the right opportunity arises. Sources tell Fischer the Nets discussed a Bridges trade concept with Charlotte in February that would have sent Ben Simmons to Charlotte. The Kings also inquired about Bridges ahead of the deadline, per Fischer.

As Fischer writes, the Hornets are viewed as a “salary-dumping ground” this summer as their new front office and head coach spearhead a rebuild. The same is true of the Pistons, who are looking for a new coach after dismissing Monty Williams.

Bridges’ market value has been difficult to gauge due to his off-court history, which includes multiple domestic violence allegations. One of those cases was dropped, but the other caused him to miss the entire 2022/23 season after he pleaded no contest (accepting punishment without formally admitting guilt).

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • Confirming previous reporting, Fischer hears the Bulls remain active in trade talks around the league. The Thunder, Raptors and Hornets are among the teams with interest in restricted free agent Patrick Williams, Fischer writes.
  • The Kings appear to be the most likely suitor right now for Zach LaVine, according to Fischer, who adds that Sacramento has continued shopping Harrison Barnes and Kevin Huerter in trade talks. Huerter, in particular, has drawn a “healthy amount external interest.” Still, the Bulls haven’t gained serious traction on a potential LaVine deal in several months despite being active in negotiations, sources tell Fischer. The Kings are also contemplating moving the No. 13 pick in next week’s draft, Fischer adds.
  • In previous trade windows, the Bulls pushed for unprotected picks when discussing Alex Caruso, sources tell Fischer. One scenario saw the Bulls push for four first-rounders, though presumably that total would have included protected picks. Chicago officially traded Caruso to Oklahoma City on Friday for Josh Giddey.
  • Fischer confirms LaVine is a “backup option” for the Sixers and their significant cap room. Fischer also suggests (via Twitter) the 76ers shouldn’t be ruled out as a landing spot for Paul George, despite a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic stating that their interest in George has waned as of late.
  • Fischer says the Magic are looking for a veteran wing who can space the floor, naming Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as perhaps their top target. If they lose Williams, the Bulls could have interest in Caldwell-Pope, with the Sixers another potential landing spot depending on how things work out with other targets. There are scenarios in which Orlando would exercise its $11MM team option on Joe Ingles as well, sources tell Fischer. Fischer previously touched on Klay Thompson‘s fit with the Magic.
  • The Grizzlies, who control the No. 9 pick, are known to be looking for big men, with UConn’s Donovan Clingan one draft target in a move-up scenario. However, Fischer hears from sources who say Memphis is also open to moving back in the draft. The Grizzlies are unwilling to move Marcus Smart, but Luke Kennard has drawn “strong interest” in trade talks, according to Fischer — the team holds a $14.7MM option on Kennard for 2024/25.

Rockets Rumors: Clingan, Sheppard, No. 3 Pick, Smart, More

The Rockets have UConn center Donovan Clingan and Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard at the top of their board heading into next week’s draft, league sources tell Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Houston controls the No. 3 overall pick.

According to Iko, Clingan seems to have the edge over Sheppard, but it’s not a sure thing the 7’2″ big man will be available with the third pick. ESPN recently reported that while Zaccharie Risacher remains the favorite to go No. 1 to the Hawks, Atlanta is also high on Clingan, who may be Risacher’s top competition. Ken Seguira of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has also heard the Hawks are high on Clingan.

The Rockets already have Alperen Sengun at center and he shares an agent with Clingan, Iko writes. Those factors — plus the trade deadline addition of Steven Adams — would seemingly work against Houston selecting Clingan, and the team has been unable to get him in for a private workout to this point. Sheppard, meanwhile, will visit the Rockets this week, sources tell Iko.

Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman recently suggested Houston might not have much leverage if they decide to trade the No. 3 selection due to a perception that there’s a minimal difference in value between that pick and those later in the lottery. However, Iko has heard differently, writing that there’s “rapidly growing interest” from rival teams in Clingan and Sheppard. Those teams may also be motivated to move up ahead of the Spurs, who control the Nos. 4 and 8 picks.

While several teams have shown interest in the third pick, team and league sources tell Iko the Hornets, Grizzlies and Trail Blazers have been “the most vocal” in their pursuit of the selection, with Memphis and Charlotte particularly “aggressive.”

Iko hears all three clubs are fans of both Clingan and Sheppard. The Hornets control the 6th and 42nd overall picks; the Grizzlies control Nos. 9, 39 and 57; and the Blazers control Nos. 7, 14, 34 and 40.

Here are some more Rockets rumors, all from Iko:

  • In an ideal situation, Houston would prefer to use the No. 3 pick as part of a package to acquire a star player like Donovan Mitchell, but there hasn’t been much league-wide “activity or movement” when it comes to stars this offseason, according to Iko. The Pelicans are rumored to have floated a proposal of Brandon Ingram for Sengun, but Houston has “no interest” in that deal, team sources tell Iko. Iko also hears New Orleans discussed Ingram with the Sixers.
  • If the Rockets can’t land a star and still decide to move the third pick, Iko wonders if a Grizzlies offer centered around Marcus Smart and the ninth pick could make sense for both sides. According to Iko’s sources, GM Rafael Stone and head coach Ime Udoka are fans of Smart, who played under Udoka in Boston. In a move-back scenario, Houston might be interested in selecting Tennesee forward Dalton Knecht, says Iko.
  • Houston also controls a second-round pick (No. 44) in the upcoming draft. San Francisco’s Jonathan Mogbo, Minnesota’s Cam Christie, Illinois’ Terrence Shannon, Colorado’s KJ Simpson, UCLA’s Adem Bona and Marquette’s Oso Ighodaro are among the prospects who have been discussed at that spot, though Iko acknowledges some of those players might get drafted before then. Clemson forward/center PJ Hall, Texas forward Dylan Disu, St. John’s guard Daniss Jenkins and Washington State forward Jaylen Wells are among the players who will work out for Houston this week, Iko reports.
  • For free agency, Iko hears the Rockets have placed a high priority on adding shooting, but the team is only interested in two-way contributors — Alec Burks, Gary Harris, Talen Horton-Tucker and Saddiq Bey are names to watch. Bey, however, will be a restricted free agent if he’s given a qualifying offer, which complicates matters (he’s also recovering from a torn ACL). A source close to Eric Gordon tells Iko that the veteran guard is “50-50” on exercising his player option to remain with the Suns, but the longtime former Rocket is also open to a reunion with Houston. The Rockets will have the non-taxpayer mid-level exception to dangle in free agency, Iko notes.

Morant Showing Good Progress From Shoulder Surgery

Ja Morant appears to be ahead of schedule in his recovery from shoulder surgery, Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports.

According to Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins, Morant and several other players who suffered significant injuries are making good progress. Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr., Ziaire Williams, Vince Williams and Marcus Smart were among the other Grizzlies players who missed chunks of time due to injury this season.

“Everything is going well,” Jenkins said on Tuesday. “Ja is the only one when June rolls around, he’s going to be pretty close to full go on the court. Everything that everyone was dealing with towards the end of the season is in a good place right now.”

Morant’s season was essentially a washout. He missed the first 25 games of the season due to an NBA suspension, then averaged 25.1 points, 8.1 assists and 5.6 rebounds in nine games after the suspension, including a game-winning shot against New Orleans on Dec. 19 in his return to action.

Morant was then diagnosed with a labral tear in his right shoulder after a training session. At the time of his January surgery, the recovery process was outlined as a six-month process.

Grizzlies head of basketball operations Zach Kleiman said in April that there wasn’t a timeline on Morant’s full availability, but that he was “expected to be fully cleared for basketball activities maybe halfway through the offseason.”

Morant will be entering the second year of his five-year, max contract.

Grizzlies’ Derrick Rose, Ziaire Williams Unlikely To Return This Season

Injured Grizzlies point guard Derrick Rose and forward Ziaire Williams aren’t expected to return to action this season, according to Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Rose, who last played on February 28, has been sidelined due to right groin issue and lower back recovery. Williams hasn’t suited up since March 2 due to a lower back injury of his own, as well as a hip flexor strain.

“They’re doing well,” head coach Taylor Jenkins said on Friday. “Most likely they’re not going to be coming back by the end of the season. We’re just kind of taking it day to day.”

As Cole notes, Ja Morant is the only Grizzlies player who has officially been ruled out for the rest of the season. There also has been no indication that Marcus Smart (finger) is on track to play again this spring. However, the team isn’t simply shutting down all of its injured players despite its 24-49 record.

Brandon Clarke made his season debut on Wednesday after spending more than a year recovering from an Achilles tear. Memphis also remains hopeful that Vince Williams (knee) and John Konchar (heel) will play again before the regular season concludes on April 14, says Cole.

The banged-up Grizzlies have qualified for multiple hardship exceptions in recent weeks due to all their injuries. If Morant, Rose, Williams, and Smart are the only four players they don’t expect back in the season’s final two weeks, they’ll only qualify for a single hardship exception going forward, giving them the ability to carry one extra player rather than two.

Grizzlies’ Bane, Smart To Remain Out For Multiple Weeks

The Grizzlies will continue to be without guards Desmond Bane and Marcus Smart for several more weeks, the team announced in a press release.

Bane is progressing well from a Grade 3 left ankle sprain he suffered on Jan. 12 game against the Clippers. He is expected to return to play during the next three-to-five weeks, per the Grizzlies.

Bane was in the midst of a career year prior to the injury, averaging 24.4 points, 5.3 assists and 4.6 rebounds in 37 games.

Smart, who sustained a left finger/hand injury during a Jan. 9 game against the Mavericks, will continue to wear a splint for another three weeks, per that club. He will be reevaluated at that three-week mark.

Acquired from the Celtics during the offseason, Smart is averaging 14.5 points and 4.3 assists in 20 starts with Memphis.

The injury-ravaged Grizzlies return Friday from the All-Star break with a 20-36 mark, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Smart is eventually shut down.

Southwest Notes: Grizzlies, Jackson, Udoka, Wembanyama

The Grizzlies aren’t ready to shut down any of their players, but Mark Giannotto of The Commercial Appeal questions whether that’s a sound strategy. Before Memphis ended its nine-game losing streak Wednesday night, coach Taylor Jenkins told reporters that the team will bring back as many injured players as it can over the season’s final two months.

“We’re actively preparing and training these guys as if they are playing,” Jenkins said. “We haven’t had any conversations about shutting down guys. This is a competitive bunch.”

Injuries have made this a nightmarish season for the Grizzlies, who were one of the West’s top teams the past two years. Players such as Desmond Bane and Marcus Smart could still return, but Giannotto believes it’s wiser for the organization to hold them out to avoid any further injury risk while seeing what the team’s young talent can do after the All-Star break.

Giannotto notes that general manager Zach Kleiman didn’t offer any timeline for Bane or Smart in a news conference last week, but he indicated that it might be beneficial for Brandon Clarke to see some action when he’s cleared to return from an Achilles tear he suffered last season.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies rookie GG Jackson called it a “joyful experience” as his two-way contract was converted to a new four-year deal last week, per Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal. The second-round pick has excelled as the team’s injuries have given him an unexpected chance to play big minutes, and he had been hoping to land a standard contract. “I kind of had a feeling with the way everything has been panning out, but I tried to keep the main thing with basketball,” Jackson said. “But nonetheless, I’m grateful.”
  • Rockets coach Ime Udoka said lineup changes may be necessary following Wednesday’s loss at Memphis, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Houston faced an early 23-point deficit as its pattern of slow starts continued. Jalen Green sat out the entire fourth quarter for the second time in four games, and Feigen notes that little-used Nate Hinton played more second half minutes than Green did. “Maybe I have to look at the rotation and the lineup I have out there starting and try to get five competitors out the court at one time to avoid poor starts like that,” Udoka said. “I will look at all of that over the break, look in the mirror myself and figure out the best way to move forward to get us off to better starts.”
  • Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press previews what Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama can expect as he prepares for his first All-Star Weekend.

Celtics Notes: Tillman, Porzingis, Springer, Buyout Market

When they were teammates with the Grizzlies, Xavier Tillman used to ask Marcus Smart about the experience of playing in Boston, never expecting to get the opportunity to do so himself before the end of the season, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Seeking help in the frontcourt, the Celtics acquired Tillman from Memphis on Wednesday in exchange for Lamar Stevens and a pair of second-round picks. He’s looking forward to experiencing first-hand everything Smart said about Boston fans.

“The main thing he told me is it’s very similar to Memphis in terms of the grit and the grind and how hard you have to work for the fans and appreciation and stuff like that,” Tillman said. “And once you do show that you’re willing to hustle, they’re going love you. I love it.”

The Celtics had their eye on Tillman for several years and considered selecting him in the 2020 draft, Himmelsbach adds. Memphis took him with the 35th overall pick, and he has built a reputation as a hard worker and versatile defender during his four NBA seasons.

“It’s crazy, to be honest with you,” Tillman said. “I’ve always watched the Celtics in terms of just the winning history of it, back with [Kevin Garnett] and all that stuff and seeing these guys repeatedly go to the Eastern Conference finals all the time, I’m always locked in on that. So for me to get the opportunity to be part of a winning organization, it’s pretty awesome.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Kristaps Porzingis wasn’t upset about being passed over as an injury replacement for the All-Star Game, Himmelsbach adds. Trae Young and Scottie Barnes were selected this week to take the place of Joel Embiid and Julius Randle. “Of course there’s some prestige in that and maybe five years ago that was something that was always on my mind, but it doesn’t change anything,” Porzingis said. “To be honest there’s a big part of me that’s kind of happy I can go to Miami or somewhere where there’s sun, get some tan, lift some weights, prepare my body for the rest of the season and then postseason.”
  • President of basketball operations Brad Stevens had been hoping to acquire Jaden Springer from the Sixers since watching him when their teams met in the preseason, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Stevens got his chance when Philadelphia opted to unload the 21-year-old guard to create more financial flexibility and add an extra second-round pick. Weiss notes that Stevens also faced an urgency to add talent before the deadline because of the limitations that will be placed on teams above the tax apron starting this summer.
  • A Celtics reunion with Danilo Gallinari appears unlikely, Brian Robb of MassLive states in a mailbag column. The Pistons waived Gallinari on Friday, but Robb believes his mobility is still affected by last year’s ACL tear, causing teams to target him on defense. Robb views Otto Porter as a more desirable option if he reaches a buyout with the Jazz, but he cautions that Boston would face competition from several teams.

Grizzlies Notes: Deadline Moves, Bane, Smart, Clarke, Jackson

Victor Oladipo and Chimezie Metu have already been waived, but the two other players acquired by the Grizzlies in their recent series of tradesLamar Stevens and Yuta Watanabe – are expected to get an opportunity to play over the next couple months, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Stevens is on an expiring deal, while Watanabe holds a minimum-salary player option for 2024/25.

The Grizzlies also hope to get a longer look down the stretch at Ziaire Williams and Jake LaRavia, two former first-round picks who are currently sidelined due to injuries. As Cole writes, head of basketball operations Zach Kleiman showed by trading David Roddy on Thursday that he’s willing to move on from recent first-rounders who haven’t established themselves as consistent, productive rotation contributors, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to give up on players like Williams or LaRavia.

“We’re in a spot where we have a lot of young players,” Kleiman said. “Nothing has been ruled out. Let me say that. I think that everyone at the very least has shown that in stretches, there’s a lot to be encouraged by. What we’re focused on right now is giving those guys opportunity. Wouldn’t surprise me if some guys emerge and maybe surprise people.”

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Having traded away Steven Adams and Xavier Tillman, the Grizzlies’ plans at center going forward are unclear. Their 2024 first-round pick, which projects to be a top-10 selection, may factor into that equation, Cole notes, since it could serve as a valuable trade asset or an opportunity to add a young blue-chipper to the roster. “Wherever that pick might be, we want to be in a position where we’re able to kind of navigate and steer that in different directions,” Kleiman said.
  • The Grizzlies project to be a luxury tax team next season based on their current commitments. Kleiman told reporters, including Cole, that’s not something the club is actively working to avoid. “There’s not a budget that we have to operate from,” Kleiman said. “There’s not a place that we need to be relative to any marker or luxury tax. . . . Those are all things we’ll have to weigh from a team-building standpoint.”
  • There’s still no timeline for the returns of Desmond Bane (left ankle), Marcus Smart (right ring finger), or Brandon Clarke (left Achilles), according to Kleiman. He indicate that Bane and Smart are expected to be out at least through the All-Star break and expressed optimism Clarke can return this season. “Brandon’s doing really well in his recovery,” Kleiman said, per Cole. “We’ll make a determination when we get a little bit closer. . . . Regardless of record, a little cameo at the end of the season just to build momentum going into next season, I think that’s something that’s potentially still on the table.”
  • As Jonah Dylan of The Memphis Commercial Appeal details, the Grizzlies players who remained on the roster through Thursday’s trade deadline were sorry to see Tillman and Roddy go. “I’m obviously upset and gutted and I feel bad,” said Jaren Jackson Jr., who played with Tillman at Michigan State before spending the past four seasons with him in Memphis. “It’s just part of the business. I’ve been here a long time. But it doesn’t get easier, for sure.”
  • GG Jackson‘s new four-year deal with the Grizzlies will be worth $8.5MM over four seasons, with $6.1MM in guaranteed money, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. A minimum-salary deal would be worth in the range of $7MM, so it sounds like Jackson will receive significantly more than the prorated rookie minimum for the rest of the 2023/24 season.

Celtics Notes: Trade Market, Tillman, Pritchard, Smart

After agreeing to acquire Xavier Tillman from Memphis in exchange for Lamar Stevens and a pair of second-round picks, the Celtics are likely to make another move before Thursday’s trade deadline, league sources tell Brian Robb of MassLive.com.

Although the Celtics aren’t exactly loaded with trade assets, they remain well positioned to make another smaller move. Boston still controls six future second-round picks, and sending Stevens to the Grizzlies meant the club didn’t have to touch its $6.2MM trade exception in the Tillman deal. The C’s also still have an open spot on their 15-man roster.

As Robb writes, president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has been open about his desire to add more wing depth, and the fact that the team was willing to give up Stevens may signal that an addition at that spot is coming.

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • Souichi Terada of MassLive.com takes a look at the Celtics’ roster and depth chart after the Tillman trade and considers what might be next for the club.
  • Before news of the Tillman deal broke, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston previewed the trade deadline for the Celtics. While he acknowledged that a smaller move or two is most likely, Forsberg made the case that the front office should seriously explore the possibility of taking a bigger swing, given that Boston could have an opportunity to solidify its place as a title favorite. Forsberg named Alex Caruso and Deni Avdija as two players worth looking into.
  • After not being dealt at the 2023 trade deadline, Payton Pritchard admitted to being disappointed, since he didn’t have the kind of role he wanted in Boston. One year later, he’s averaging a career-high 20.8 minutes per night as a crucial part of the Celtics’ rotation after signing an extension in October. “It’s funny the difference a year will make,” Pritchard said this week, per Jay King of The Athletic. “At the end of the day, it was always the same thing. I wanted to be able to play and be able to play every game. And sweat out there. And really feel like I’m contributing. Fortunately enough, on this team, this year, I feel like I have a role to help the team win.”
  • Former Celtics guard Marcus Smart wasn’t available to play on Sunday when the Grizzlies visited Boston, but he got a tribute video and was showered with loving chants by the fans at TD Garden, as King writes at The Athletic. “I’m surprised he didn’t cry, because that was special,” Celtics forward Jayson Tatum said. “He was the fan favorite and everybody knew that. The way he played, he wore his heart on his sleeve and every night, he gave it his all. We have some very smart fans, right, and they saw that and they appreciated that. So, it was just really cool to see. I’m happy for him.”

Fischer’s Latest: Carter, Brogdon, Smart, Hawks, Jones, Hornets

While there will likely be plenty of trades completed between now and next Thursday’s deadline, many of the players whom rival teams had hoped would hit the market aren’t expected to be available this season, writes Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

As Fischer details, that list of players who are believed to be off-limits includes several current and former All-Stars, such as Lauri Markkanen, Donovan Mitchell, Jarrett Allen, and Karl-Anthony Towns. It also features talented forwards Mikal Bridges and Jerami Grant, as well as rising talent Jonathan Kuminga.

Fischer isn’t the first to report that those players likely won’t be on the move at the deadline, so no names in that group come as real surprises. However, Fischer adds a few more players to the list of unlikely trade candidates, writing that Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. is no longer considered available and citing league personnel who are skeptical that the Trail Blazers will part with Malcolm Brogdon.

Additionally, while a handful of clubs – including the Bucks and Lakers – have called the Grizzlies to inquire about Marcus Smart, according to Fischer, Memphis has shown no interest in moving the veteran guard, who remains in the team’s plans beyond this season.

Here are a few more trade-related notes and rumors from Fischer:

  • The Hawks are viewed by rival executives as the most “active and aggressive” team in the trade market, with Dejounte Murray, Clint Capela, De’Andre Hunter, and AJ Griffin among the players who could be moved. While previous reports have indicated that Trae Young and Jalen Johnson are Atlanta’s only two untouchable players, Fischer says the club values Bogdan Bogdanovic as highly as any player on its roster outside of Young and Johnson.
  • Even though the Wizards are seeking a first-round pick for Tyus Jones, rival executives are confident that Washington will ultimately accept a package consisting of multiple second-rounders for the veteran point guard, per Fischer. Jones is on an expiring contract and wouldn’t be a starter on many teams, so a first-rounder would be a high price to pay.
  • Hornets forward P.J. Washington and center Nick Richards are generating a good deal of interest from potential trade partners, league sources tell Fischer. Kyle Lowry, Gordon Hayward, and Miles Bridges are among Charlotte’s other trade candidates.
  • We also passed along several of Fischer’s trade rumors related to Western Conference teams in a separate article.