Portland Trail Blazers

Trade Rumors: KCP, OKC, Afflalo, Knight, Ezeli

While the Pistons have been open to listening to inquiries on anyone, few – if any – players on their roster have received as much interest as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Speaking to reporters, including Rod Beard of The Detroit News, Stan Van Gundy confirmed that KCP’s future has been one of the main topics discussed as of late by the Pistons, who will have to make a big long-term commitment to the shooting guard this summer if they keep him.

“That’s something you have to make decisions about and deal with. I’m not getting into specifics at this point, but that has been a significant part of what we’ve talked about,” Van Gundy said of the RFA-to-be. “He was probably the most urgent decision because of that and the money coming and what it means in terms of the cap and the (luxury) tax. We’ve talked about it internally and we’ve talked about it with (team owner) Tom (Gores). We know exactly what’s coming and we’re making informed decisions.”

Here are several more trade rumors and notes from around the NBA:

  • The Thunder are being aggressive as the trade deadline nears, according to Royce Young of ESPN.com (Twitter links), who adds Doug McDermott to the list of players on Oklahoma City’s radar. OKC was linked to another Bulls forward – Taj Gibson – earlier today.
  • League executives believe the Kings will move Arron Afflalo today, says Chris Haynes of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee adds (via Twitter) that Afflalo is more likely to be dealt than Ben McLemore, who has impressed some people within the organization lately. Afflalo has been linked to Indiana and Oklahoma City this week.
  • Brandon Knight wouldn’t mind a change of scenery, but the Suns have set their asking price too high in the past in talks with the Magic, Kings, Sixers, and Bulls, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. As Amick observes, it remains to be seen whether that will change today.
  • The Trail Blazers continue to try to find a taker for Festus Ezeli‘s contract, per ESPN’s Marc Stein (Twitter link).
  • Although Bucks general manager John Hammond likes to make trades, league executives say Milwaukee has been “low key” in trade talks this week, according to Jeff Zilgitt of USA Today (Twitter link).
  • The Cavaliers continue to work on deals that could fortify their roster, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the team ultimately rely on the buyout market instead, tweets Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.

Latest On The Pistons, Drummond, Caldwell-Pope

The Pistons are “welcoming offers” for Andre Drummond and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, according to Mark Stein of ESPN.com. It’s likely that Drummond stays with the franchise, as he’s beloved by owner Tom Gores, but the softened stance on the big man opens up the door on a potential trade.

The Blazers had discussions with the Pistons about bringing Drummond to Portland, but those talks ended when Detriot insisted on receiving C.J. McCollum in return, sources tell Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. Stein notes that the Blazers view McCollum as untouchable.

Stein adds that the Raptors and Pistons have had exploratory conversations on Drummond. Detroit has also engaged in conversations with the Nets. Before DeMarcus Cousins was traded to the Pelicans, the Pistons discussed a deal with the Kings centered around a Cousins-Drummond swap.

Drummond signed a max contract with the team over the summer. Caldwell-Pope will be a restricted after the season and the team is reportedly wary about having to give the shooting guard a sizable deal. Stein notes that the team is looking for at least one first-rounder in exchange for KCP.

If the Pistons hold onto Caldwell-Pope and re-sign him to a max deal in the offseason, they would be near the luxury tax line. That’s not an attractive position to be in for a team that sits below .500. However, coach/executive Stan Van Gundy tells Vince Ellis of the Detriot Free Press that ownership has not issued any mandate to shed salary this season.

Pacers Rumors: George, Afflalo, Crabbe, Davis

The latest Woj Bomb from Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical is a report suggesting that the Pacers are gauging the trade market for Paul George. Wojnarowski’s story hardly guarantees that George will be on the move in the next 24 hours, but after we heard for most of the season that the Pacers wouldn’t even consider a trade, it now appears that the team is a little more open to the possibility.

With that in mind, here are a few of the latest Pacers-related notes and rumors:

  • George met with Pacers owner Herb Simon in recent days and said he’d love to remain with the Pacers for the long term, according to Sam Amick of USA Today. However, that stance came with a caveat, says Amick — Indiana needs to be capable of contending for a title if George is going to stay. As Amick explains, that’s why the Pacers need to decide very soon whether to be aggressive in fortifying the roster around George or whether to move him and rebuild.
  • The Lakers are considered a potential landing spot for George in free agency in 2018, but Amick writes that L.A. may not want to wait that long. New president of basketball operations Magic Johnson is already in the process of trying to land the Pacers forward, per Amick.
  • Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net confirms (via Twitter) that Magic Johnson plans to call the Pacers about George before the deadline, and the two heads of basketball operations in Indiana and Los Angeles already know one another pretty well. In the view of Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star (via Twitter), the fact that new George rumors have surfaced shortly after Johnson’s hiring in L.A. is “not a coincidence.”
  • Despite the Lakers‘ interest in George, Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times and Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter links) downplay the likelihood of the team going all-in for him at this point.
  • If the Pacers don’t move George and look to upgrade their roster, there are a number of options in play for the club. Amick identifies Jahlil Okafor, Arron Afflalo, Allen Crabbe, and Ed Davis as players that Larry Bird has inquired on as the deadline nears. We heard about Indiana’s Okafor talks on Tuesday.

Woj’s Latest: Bogdanovic, KCP, Butler, Sixers

The Kings still had four days to go before the 2017 trade deadline when they agreed to send DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans, but the team rushed to finalize the trade so that owner Vivek Ranadive wouldn’t change his mind about wanting to move the star center, Adrian Wojnarowski says in a podcast for The Vertical.

Both Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks were somewhat critical of the Kings, pointing out that the team should have been able to find a way to move Matt Barnes in the process of trading Cousins, rather than releasing him and eating his $6.4MM+ guaranteed salary for 2017/18. Wojnarowski also said that multiple free agents in recent years have used the Kings for leverage or turned down more money from Sacramento sign elsewhere, suggesting that the club needs to make good decisions and improve its reputation going forward.

The Vertical’s team, including Wojnarowski, Marks, and Chris Mannix, tackled many more topics within that podcast and a live chat with fans on Facebook, so let’s dive in and round up some of the highlights…

  • The Wizards don’t want to trade a first-round pick for a rental player, but the team does have “significant interest” in Nets sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanovic, who will be a restricted free agent this summer. Wojnarowski also adds the Kings to the list of teams with real interest in Bogdanovic.
  • Although the Pistons “love” Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, they’re hesitant about giving him a maximum salary contract in the offseason, so they have been open to listening to inquiries on him to gauge his value, says Wojnarowski. While Stan Van Gundy did say last month that no one on the roster is untouchable, a KCP deal seems like a long shot.
  • If the Bulls are going to consider moving Jimmy Butler, they’ll need to blown away by an offer, per Wojnarowski. Mannix adds that the Celtics believe Jaylen Brown has star potential and would be very reluctant to include him in an offer for Butler.
  • In recent weeks, the Sixers have shifted their focus from trading Nerlens Noel to trading Jahlil Okafor, but if the team doesn’t find a deal it likes for Okafor, Noel remains a trade candidate, says Wojnarowski. Although the Bulls have had “pretty consistent interest” in Okafor, Philadelphia continues to value him like a former third overall pick, and teams around the league are less bullish on his value, according to Woj.
  • The Rockets, Thunder, and Hawks are among the teams on the lookout for help. Mannix says Houston remains in the market for a frontcourt piece, while Wojnarowski says the Thunder are still seeking a wing scorer. Woj also notes that Atlanta is focused on building around Paul Millsap, despite the fact that he can opt out this summer.
  • The market for Nets center Brook Lopez is “really limited,” since the market is somewhat over-saturated with that type of player, says Wojnarowski.
  • The Clippers are reluctant to give up any more draft picks, particularly for rental players, so they’re a candidate to dive into the buyout market after the deadline, according to Wojnarowski, who adds that the club has had some interest in Wilson Chandler and Nikola Mirotic.
  • According to Wojnarowski, the Trail Blazers remain committed to Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum as core pieces, and are taking the long view on their roster rather than pushing for a playoff spot this season.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 2/21/17

The NBA second half won’t get underway until Thursday, but with NBA and D-League teams returning from their respective All-Star breaks, assignments and recalls have gotten underway again. Here are Tuesday’s moves:

  • The Jazz have recalled Joel Bolomboy from the Salt Lake City Stars following his participation in the weekend’s D-League All-Star game, per a team release. The rookie forward averaged 15.8 PPG and 13.2 RPG in 18 first-half NBADL games.
  • Briante Weber has been recalled to the Warriors from Santa Cruz after playing in the D-League All-Star game, Golden State announced in a press release. Weber is still on his second 10-day contract with the Dubs, though the team could waive him at the trade deadline if it needs to open up that 15th roster spot.
  • One other D-League All-Star is back with his NBA team, as the Heat confirmed that they’ve recalled Okaro White. White has been with the Heat since mid-January, but his early-season play with the Sioux Falls Skyforce earned him a spot in the D-League All-Star Game.
  • The Nuggets have sent 2016 first-rounder Malik Beasley back to the D-League, the team announced in a press release. It’s the third assignment this season for Beasley, who will head to Sioux Falls and join Miami’s affiliate, since Denver doesn’t yet have a D-League team of its own.
  • The Raptors have sent Bruno Caboclo, Pascal Siakam, and Fred VanVleet to the D-League, according to the team (Twitter link). Caboclo and VanVleet have gone back and forth between the NBA and NBADL all year, but it’s Siakam’s first assignment.
  • Rookies Chinanu Onuaku and Kyle Wiltjer have been re-assigned to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets announced today (via Twitter).
  • The Trail Blazers have assigned rookie guard Tim Quarterman to the D-League, according to a press release from the team. Quarterman joined the Windy City Bulls in his previous two NBADL stints via the flexible assignment rule, but will head to the Long Island Nets this time around.

Agent Rob Pelinka Frontrunner For Lakers’ GM Job

With general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive VP of basketball operations Jim Buss having been relieved of their duties in the Lakers’ front office, new president of basketball operations Magic Johnson will call the shots in L.A. However, the club remains on the lookout for a new GM, and according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical and Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report (Twitter links), longtime player agent Rob Pelinka has emerged as a frontrunner for the position.

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne first reported (via Twitter) that Pelinka, who represents Kobe Bryant and many current NBA players, was on the Lakers’ radar for a front office role. If the team decides to hire Pelinka, he would have to divest himself of his representation business, which would take some time, as Wojnarowski notes (via Twitter).

Several other rumors are swirling as the Lakers’ front office undergoes major changes, so let’s round them up…

  • Assuming the Lakers haven’t already decided on Pelinka, there are a number of other potential candidates believed to be on their radar, per Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter links). According to Amick, Blazers GM Neil Olshey, former Cavs GM Chris Grant, Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard, and Pacers VP of basketball operations Peter Dinwiddie are worth keeping an eye on.
  • ESPN’s Marc Stein reports (via Twitter) that another veteran player agent – Arn Tellem – is also said to be a potential target for the Lakers. However, as Rod Beard of The Detroit News tweets, Tellem – who formerly represented Kobe Bryant – has been very involved in the Pistons‘ move to downtown Detroit and seems unlikely to bolt in the middle of that project.
  • Magic Johnson has previously talked about wanting Bryant to have a role in the Lakers’ front office. Shelburne tweets that the future Hall-of-Famer is “happy doing what he’s doing,” but would be available to the organization if needed.
  • Jerry West hasn’t been approached by the Lakers about a role in the team’s front office, tweets Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times. According to Ding (via Twitter), West won’t be a part of the club’s new management group.
  • According to Tim Kawakami of The San Jose Mercury News (Twitter links), one reason the Warriors were motivated to give GM Bob Myers a promotion and a raise last summer was to avoid making him a target for the Lakers.

Jahlil Okafor Was Nearly Traded To Portland

The Sixers were close to a deal with the Trail Blazers when Jahlil Okafor was held out of the lineup, tweets David Aldridge of TNT.

Okafor sat out last Saturday and didn’t accompany the team on a flight to Charlotte for Monday’s game. A trade appeared imminent at the time, but nothing happened and he rejoined the Sixers on Wednesday.

Aldridge says the deal that nearly took place involved Portland, although he doesn’t speculate on what Philadelphia would have received in return. The Blazers and Nuggets finalized a trade Monday that sent Jusuf Nurkic and a 2017 first-round draft pick to Portland in exchange for Mason Plumlee, a 2018 second-rounder and cash. Presumably, that deal ended the Blazers’ interest in Okafor.

And-Ones: Blue, BIG3, NBPA, Draft, Expansion

NBA D-League veteran Vander Blue has appeared in more than 150 NBADL games since making his debut in 2013, and once again ranks among the league’s scoring leaders this season. In 35 games for the Los Angeles D-Fenders, Blue has averaged 25.2 PPG and has shot 37.2% on three-point attempts.

Despite his success in the D-League, the former Marquette standout has only appeared in five NBA regular-season games. Nonetheless, at age 24, he continues to believe he’s deserving a longer look in the NBA, telling Alberto de Roa of HoopsHype that he knows it’s eventually going to happen. In fact, as he focuses on producing for the D-Fenders and earning another shot in the NBA, he says he’s not considering more lucrative offers overseas.

“I told my agent I don’t really wanna hear about overseas right now,” Blue said. “I feel like if I start thinking about that I’m gonna lose focus about what I need to do here. And I want my mind, my soul, my body all to be in one spot so I can really be the best I can be.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from across the NBA:

  • The BIG3 has confirmed another new team, announcing in a press release that Chauncey Billups, Stephen Jackson, and three other players will team up on a club called the Killer 3s. Previously, we heard that Rashard Lewis and Jason Williams would co-captain a team called the 3 Headed Monsters.
  • TNT’s David Aldridge spoke to NBPA executive director Michele Roberts, engaging in an interesting Q&A on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and her role as an advocate for the league’s players.
  • ESPN’s Chad Ford (Insider link) has updated his latest 2017 mock draft in the wake of this week’s trades, which saw two first-round picks change hands. The Trail Blazers and Magic acquired first-rounders from Denver and Toronto, respectively, so Ford has incorporated new picks for those teams.
  • There’s no indication that the NBA is seriously considering expansion at the moment, but that didn’t stop Tom Ziller of SBNation.com from identifying his top 13 candidates for a new NBA franchise, from an obvious choice (Seattle) at No. 1 to a surprise choice at No. 13.

Knicks, Lakers Top Forbes’ NBA Franchise Valuations

The Knicks have been one of the NBA’s most dysfunctional teams this season. On the court, the team has gone just 23-33, with $72MM man Joakim Noah failing to make a significant impact, and Jeff Hornacek and Phil Jackson not always on the same page when it came to the use of the triangle. Off the court, things have been even worse, with Jackson criticizing star forward Carmelo Anthony, and owner James Dolan at odds with former Knicks star Charles Oakley.

On the west coast, the Lakers haven’t been much better, racking up a 19-38 record, good for the No. 14 seed in the West. The team hasn’t made as many off-court headlines, but the structure of the front office is currently up in the air, with new advisor Magic Johnson publicly declaring that he wants to be the one calling the shots on roster decisions.

Despite the problems in New York and Los Angeles, the Knicks and Lakers remain the NBA’s two most valuable franchises, according to a report from Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes. The Knicks and Lakers are the only teams valued at more than $3 billion by Forbes.

Team valuations are up around the league, with the Warriors leading the way among this year’s increases — according to Forbes, the Dubs are 37% more valuable that they were at this time in 2016. In total, 18 teams have a valuation exceeding $1 billion, which is up from 13 teams last year and just three teams in 2015. The average NBA franchise is now worth $1.36 billion, according to the report.

Here’s the full list of NBA franchise valuations, per Forbes:

  1. New York Knicks: $3.3 billion
  2. Los Angeles Lakers: $3 billion
  3. Golden State Warriors: $2.6 billion
  4. Chicago Bulls: $2.5 billion
  5. Boston Celtics: $2.2 billion
  6. Los Angeles Clippers; $2 billion
  7. Brooklyn Nets: $1.8 billion
  8. Houston Rockets: $1.65 billion
  9. Dallas Mavericks: $1.45 billion
  10. Miami Heat: $1.35 billion
  11. Cleveland Cavaliers: $1.2 billion
  12. San Antonio Spurs: $1.175 billion
  13. Toronto Raptors: $1.125 billion
  14. Phoenix Suns: $1.1 billion
  15. Sacramento Kings: $1.075 billion
  16. Portland Trail Blazers: $1.05 billion
  17. Oklahoma City Thunder: $1.025 billion
  18. Washington Wizards: $1 billion
  19. Orlando Magic: $920MM
  20. Utah Jazz: $910MM
  21. Detroit Pistons: $900MM
  22. Denver Nuggets: $890MM
  23. Atlanta Hawks: $885MM
  24. Indiana Pacers: $880MM
  25. Philadelphia 76ers: $800MM
  26. Memphis Grizzlies: $790MM
  27. Milwaukee Bucks: $785MM
  28. Charlotte Hornets: $780MM
  29. Minnesota Timberwolves: $770MM
  30. New Orleans Pelicans: $750MM

For comparison’s sake, Forbes’ 2016 valuations can be found right here.

Jahlil Okafor Rejoins Sixers

With trade rumors swirling, the Sixers held Jahlil Okafor out of action on Saturday night, and didn’t bring him on their trip to Charlotte for Monday’s game. However, Okafor has rejoined the Sixers in Boston and will play in tonight’s game against the Celtics, as Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com writes. According to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter), Nerlens Noel will remain in the starting lineup, with Okafor coming off the bench.

When Okafor was initially kept out of action over the weekend, it appeared that the Sixers were moving toward finalizing a trade involving the former No. 3 overall pick. Indeed, a source tells Camerato that the team had been close to a deal involving Okafor. Now that the club is ready to re-insert him into the lineup, it seems no trade is imminent.

According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, people around the NBA are skeptical that the Sixers were ever all that close to moving Okafor. O’Connor’s sources speculate that Okafor’s absence was a failed attempt to “stir interest” and “flush out” teams’ best offers.

The Pelicans, Bulls, Nuggets, and Trail Blazers have been linked to Okafor in recent reports, but O’Connor suggests Denver and Portland don’t appear to be serious suitors, and he’s not sure Chicago is either. New Orleans seemed to be gaining momentum on a possible Okafor deal earlier this month, but that was nine days ago, and nothing has come of it yet.

The Sixers’ game tonight is the team’s last one before February 24, a day after the trade deadline, so it’s possible that it will be Okafor’s last contest with the franchise. We’ll have to wait to see if the offers for Okafor improve by next Thursday, or if Philadelphia eventually settles for an offer currently on the table.

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