Trail Blazers Rumors

Blazers Interested In Jeremy Lin

  • The Trail Blazers would also be willing to part with their 2019 first-rounder for help in the backcourt or on the wing, per Deveney. Sources tell Deveney that Portland has expressed some interest in Hawks point guard Jeremy Lin, whom the Sixers and Pelicans have also inquired on. Getting a first-round pick in return for Lin might be challenging, but the veteran guard has boosted his value with a solid season so far in Atlanta.

  • The Trail Blazers would also be willing to part with their 2019 first-rounder for help in the backcourt or on the wing, per Deveney. Sources tell Deveney that Portland has expressed some interest in Hawks point guard Jeremy Lin, whom the Sixers and Pelicans have also inquired on. Getting a first-round pick in return for Lin might be challenging, but the veteran guard has boosted his value with a solid season so far in Atlanta.

Roster Notes: Wizards, Suns, Blazers, More

Early to mid January is a period of flux for a number of NBA rosters, as teams navigate two key deadlines.

[RELATED: NBA Dates, Deadlines To Watch In January]

All full-season contracts officially became guaranteed on Thursday, after a handful of clubs beat the deadline earlier this week and released players on non-guaranteed contracts to avoid having those cap hits lock in.

The next deadline arrives on January 15, which is the last day of the 2018/19 league year for teams to sign players to two-way contracts. After that day, teams can waive players on two-way deals, or convert them to standard contracts, but they can’t add anyone new on a two-way pact.

With those factors in mind, here are a few teams to keep an eye on within the next week or two:

Washington Wizards:

Having waived Ron Baker on Monday, the Wizards dipped down to 13 players on standard contracts. Teams are permitted to carry fewer than 14 players for up to two weeks at a time, so Washington will have until January 21 to sign or acquire a player to fill that slot.

It’s unlikely that the Wizards will guarantee that 14th player a rest-of-season contract, unless there’s someone they really love. A series of 10-day contracts is more likely, particularly before the February 7 trade deadline arrives.

Phoenix Suns:

The Suns are in a similar spot to the Wizards, with just 13 players on full-season standard contracts. However, Phoenix already filled its 14th roster slot by signing by signing Quincy Acy on Monday.

Still, Acy received a 10-day deal which will expire after next Wednesday, so the Suns are on track to have their roster count drop back to 13 players soon. They’ll have to eventually re-sign Acy or add someone new to the roster in order to get back to the league-mandated minimum of 14 players on standard deals.

Portland Trail Blazers:

In one of 2018/19’s under-the-radar roster oddities, the Trail Blazers have kept both of their two-way contract slots open all season. Portland doesn’t have its own G League affiliate, so perhaps the franchise views two-way players as unnecessary if they’re not contributing to the NBA team — so far, the club hasn’t been short-handed enough to need those extra contributions.

The club’s unsettled ownership situation could also be a factor here. Two-way players are very inexpensive in relative terms, but they still represent two more player salaries that need to be paid. Longtime Blazers owner Paul Allen passed away in 2018, so perhaps the front office hasn’t felt the need to ask ownership for the money for those two extra salaries.

Nonetheless, with Tuesday’s deadline for two-way signings fast approaching, it would be a surprise to see the Trail Blazers leave both spots open for the rest of the season. It could make sense for Portland to sign a player or two with some NBA experience, who could contribute down the stretch if necessary.

New York Knicks / New Orleans Pelicans:

The Knicks and Pelicans are currently the only two other NBA teams with two-way contract openings — they each have one. I’d expect both clubs to fill those slots by the January 15 deadline, though their priorities may be different.

The Pelicans – like Portland – don’t have their own affiliate and may prefer a player capable of helping out right away rather than a raw prospect, given their position in the standings. The Knicks, on the other hand, have their nearby Westchester affiliate at their disposal for developmental purposes. And given their current focus on developing prospects, even at the NBA level, it would be in the club’s best interests to bring aboard another young player for that two-way opening.

Market For Kevin Love Appears Sparse

Pinning down Kevin Love‘s trade value is going to be a challenge and pulling off a trade for the big man may be problematic for rival teams, Ken Berger of Bleacher Report relays.

“The problem is: You have a rookie GM [Koby Altman]—who’s a really good guy and has done some really good things and is trying to prove himself. And you’ve got a delusional owner [Dan Gilbert],” a Western Conference executive tells Berger. “And they’re going to think they’re supposed to get something for the guy. You’re not getting an asset for him under any circumstances.”

Love, who remains sidelined with a foot injury, with will make approximately $28.9MM next season in the first year of the extension he signed last summer.

“It’s a lot to ask someone to take on $144 million for a 30-year-old with an injury history,” another executive said. “You’re dealing with a very small, narrow marketplace for him.”

Love isn’t eligible to be traded until January 24, which is the six-month anniversary of him signing his extension in Cleveland. Finding a suitor will be an issue. The Cavaliers will hope that a contending team will be willing to take a huge risk in order to inch closer to the Warriors atop the league’s hierarchy.

The Rockets and Thunder both make sense as landing spots should a trade occur, one Western Conference executive speculated. The Nuggets have Paul Millsap‘s $30MM salary coming off the books next summer and are fans of Love’s game. The Trail Blazers could use a floor spacer and the Pacers may see the upside he provides. The Hornets and Mavericks have eyes for the big man, Sam Amico of Amico Hoops hears, but finding a deal for either team is no easy task.

“It’s going to have to be a playoff team in a non-destination market,” one of the executives tells Berger. “A team that has a couple of stars that isn’t going to get anybody in free agency because they don’t have the room or nobody’s going to go play there.”

The Thunder-Love scenario is intriguing. Love and Russell Westbrook remain friends and have been close since their days at UCLA. Westbrook’s massive deal worth over $200MM runs through the 2022/23 (with a player option on the last year), which is the exact same timeline as Love’s contract. Paul George is under team control at least through the 2020/21 season and with those contracts, as well as Steven Adams‘ $100MM contract on the books, the team isn’t going to have cap room anytime soon.

“[GM Sam Presti] will figure it out in three years when Russell and Paul are coming to the end of their run,” the Western Conference GM said of a potential Love-to-the-Thunder trade.

It’s difficult for OKC to construct a deal for Love that doesn’t involve giving up one or more of the team’s key contributors due to the big man’s $24.1MM salary. Dennis Schroder ($15.5MM), Alex Abrines ($5.46M), and Patrick Patterson ($5.45M) would make up an interesting package, though Schroder has brought much-needed playmaking for the team, taking some of those duties off of Westbrook this year.

Adams’ salary clocks in at slightly under $24.2MM and if the Thunder have confidence that Nerlens Noel can step up into a bigger role (a big if), perhaps trading their enforcer in the middle makes sense.

However, it’s hard to envision why the Cavs would make such a deal beyond Adams’ contract expiring two years earlier than Love’s. Cleveland covets young players and draft picks as it begins a rebuild. Bringing in an additional team on a three-way trade might be the solution should a deal come together, though that is simply my speculation.

Love’s defense adds another risk to a complicated situation,  as people within the league believe he is a liability on the defensive end.

“When we need a bucket against Cleveland, that’s who we attack,” an anonymous coach tells Berger. “Guys like him become hard to hide. There’s always been a premium on pick-and-roll defense, but even more so now. Everybody is spreading the floor and driving and kicking and trying to generate something going downhill.”

One executive groups Love’s contract in with John Wall‘s, calling the pair of deals the “two worst contracts in the league.”

“How many teams are really looking for a dinosaur face-up 4-man, or a 5 who can’t switch pick-and-roll?” the exec said of Love (via Berger).

Most of the pessimism comes from Love’s contract. The executive compared Love to Brook Lopez – an offensive-focused player who landed just a one-year $3.4MM deal with the Bucks this past offseason – suggesting that Love wouldn’t receive much on the open market.

The evaluation seems extremely pessimistic. Love still has value; the questions is: what is that value? He can still help a team in the win column and it’ll only take one team willing to meet the Cavs’ demands to make a deal.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Northwest Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Northwest Division:

Raul Neto, Jazz, 26, PG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $4.4MM deal in 2018
Neto’s $2.15MM salary for next season becomes guaranteed if he’s still on the roster after July 6. Even though it’s not much money, Neto has given the Jazz little reason to keep him around. He’s not in the rotation with Dante Exum backing up Ricky Rubio. Except for a blowout win over the Knicks in which he played 20 minutes, Neto has either been benched or seen fewer than four minutes over the past 10 games. With Rubio headed to unrestricted free agency, it’s conceivable Utah could exercise that option as insurance. The Brazilian native is more likely to continue his career elsewhere, probably overseas.

Trey Lyles, Nuggets, 23, PF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $10.4MM deal in 2015
Lyles has received rotation minutes but his offensive numbers have declined. He’s shooting just 41.1% from the field and 24.1% beyond the arc, compared to a 49.1/38.1 slash line last season. He was mired in a terrible slump last month, making just 32.3% (18.6% from distance) of his field goal attempts. Lyles will be a restricted free agent if the Nuggets extend a $4.63MM qualifying option. That may depend on some other factors. They hold a $30MM team option on Paul Millsap‘s contract. It’s also predicated on whether they believe Michael Porter Jr. will contribute significantly next season.

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Thunder, 23, SG (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $4.26MM deal in 2016
Luwawu-Cabarrot, a 2016 first-round pick by the Sixers in 2016, got some opportunities in his first two seasons with Philadelphia. His court time has diminished considerably in Oklahoma City. After playing in 69 games (19 starts) in his rookie year and 52 last season, Luwawu-Cabarrot has languished at the end of OKC’s bench despite Andre Roberson‘s injury issues. He’s played just 12 minutes since November 28. The Thunder didn’t pick up Luwawu-Cabarrot’s option during the offseason, so he’ll be unrestricted in July. It will be interesting to see if any team believes he has untapped potential or whether he’ll have to seek overseas opportunities.

Taj Gibson, Timberwolves, 33, PF (Up) — Signed to a two-year, $28MM deal in 2017
Gibson has become a more efficient offensive player in recent years while providing his usual toughness in the paint as well as rebounding. Gibson remains one of the top offensive rebounders in the league (2.7 per game) and has kept a positive attitude despite the addition of Dario Saric, which has cut into his minutes. If Tom Thibodeau remains in charge, the Timberwolves will likely try to re-sign him. Otherwise, Gibson will find work as a 25-30 minute option at power forward for a suitor looking for an upgrade at that position.

Nik Stauskas, Trail Blazers, 25, SG (Down)– Signed to a one-year, $1.6MM deal in 2018
Stauskas is playing for his fourth organization in five seasons. He will be on the move again if his shooting doesn’t perk up. After a strong start, Stauskas has gone into an offensive funk. He made just 24.3% of his 3-point attempts in December and went scoreless in a nine-minute stint against Sacramento in his first 2019 appearance. Stauskas reached double figures in five of his first eight games with the franchise but has hit that mark just twice since that point. With first-rounder Anfernee Simons showing no signs of taking Stauskas’ rotation spot, the Blazers may try to acquire a wing player before the trade deadline.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/4/19

Here are Friday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Grizzlies recalled rookie guard Jevon Carter and big man Ivan Rabb from the Memphis Hustle, the team’s PR department tweets. Carter has appeared in 13 games with the Hustle, averaging 17.8 PPG and 5.5 APG in 33.0 MPG. Rabb has played five games with the Hustle and posted averages of 23.4 PPG and 10.2 RPG in 36.7 MPG.
  • The Trail Blazers transferred guard Wade Baldwin IV to the Texas Legends, according to a team press release. Baldwin has appeared in 13 games with the Trail Blazers but averaged just 5.5 MPG in those outings. He saw action in 17 games with the Legends last season. He joins forward Caleb Swanigan, who was transferred to the Legends on December 31st.
  • The Timberwolves assigned rookie forward Keita Bates-Diop to the Iowa Wolves, the team’s PR department tweets. The second-round selection has already played 13 G League games, posting averages of 17.5 PPG and 9.0 RPG in 35.7 MPG.
  • The Hornets recalled forward Dwayne Bacon, the re-assigned him to the Greensboro Swarm, according to team press releases. That allowed Bacon, who has appeared in 18 games with the Hornets this season, to play for the Swarm against the Lakeland Magic on Friday. He’s averaged 21.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 3.2 APG in six G League appearances.
  • The Pacers recalled forward Ike Anigbogu from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, according to a team press release. In 14 games with the Mad Ants, Anigbogu posted averages of 11.6 PPG and 10.1 RPG in 29.3 MPG.

Trail Blazers Assign Caleb Swanigan

  • The Trail Blazers have assigned forward Caleb Swanigan to the G League, the team announced on its website. A first-round pick in 2017, Swanigan is averaging 1.9 points and 3.1 rebounds in 16 games for Portland this season. Because the Blazers don’t have a direct G League affiliate, Swanigan will report to the Texas Legends.

NBA Teams With Open Roster Spots

NBA teams are allowed to carry up to 15 players on their regular season rosters, plus two more on two-way contracts, for a total of 17 players. However, approximately half of the league’s clubs aren’t currently taking advantage of all their roster spots and have at least one open 15-man or two-way contract slot.

[RELATED: 2018/19 NBA Roster Counts]

There will likely be more roster movement starting next month, since January features plenty of important roster dates and deadlines. Teams can begin signing players to 10-day contracts on January 5. Every player on a non-guaranteed contract will have his salary guaranteed if he’s not waived by January 7. And two-way contracts can’t be signed after January 15.

For now though, there are 11 NBA teams with openings on their 15-man rosters and three more with at least one open two-way contract slot.

Here’s a breakdown of those teams with open roster spots:

Teams with an opening on their 15-man roster:

  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Golden State Warriors
  • Houston Rockets
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Miami Heat
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Philadelphia 76ers
  • Phoenix Suns
  • Toronto Raptors
  • Washington Wizards

Of the 11 teams with an open roster spot, six are projected taxpayers — the Warriors, Rockets, Heat, Thunder, Raptors, and Wizards are all over the luxury tax threshold and will be in no rush to fill the 15th spot on their respective rosters, since doing so would increase that year-end tax bill.

The other clubs are more likely to add a 15th man sooner or later, though the Hornets also aren’t far off from the tax threshold and may exercise some caution with that final roster spot. Teams like the Cavaliers and Suns figure to prioritize developmental players when they eventually fill their rosters, while potential contenders the Sixers and Pacers may focus on finding a immediate contributor.

Teams with an open two-way contract slot:

  • Boston Celtics
  • New York Knicks
  • Portland Trail Blazers (2)

The Trail Blazers have yet to add a two-way player to their roster this season, which is somewhat unusual, even given the club’s uncertain ownership situation. It’s not as if a two-way player requires a significant investment, so that seems like a signing Jody Allen would sign off on if the front office asked.

Portland doesn’t have its own G League affiliate, so maybe the club believes its ability to develop a young player on a two-way deal would be limited. Still, the other two teams without G League affiliates of their own – the Nuggets and Pelicans – have filled both of their two-way contract slots. Perhaps if the Blazers are plagued with injuries at some point this season, they’ll use those two-way openings to add a player or two who can help out immediately at the NBA level.

[RELATED: 2018/19 NBA Two-Way Contract Tracker]

Meanwhile, the Knicks recently promoted Allonzo Trier to their 15-man roster and haven’t yet filled his old two-way spot. The Celtics are in the same boat, having waived two-way player Walt Lemon Jr. at the end of November. Both teams will likely fill those openings before the January 15 deadline.

Do Trail Blazers Need To Make Trade?

  • After getting off to a 10-3 start this season, the Trail Blazers have dropped 10 of their last 15 games and are currently the ninth seed in the West, on the outside of the playoff picture. Jason Quick of The Athletic takes a look at whether Portland can turn things around with the current roster, or whether it might be time for president of basketball operations Neil Olshey to go out and make a move.

No Plans To Put Trail Blazers Up For Sale

Longtime Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen passed away in October, but his sister Jody Allen has no plans to sell the franchise anytime soon, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic.

“Nothing is for sale right now,” said Chris McGowan, the Blazers’ president and CEO. “We are operating business as usual and [Blazers president of basketball operations] Neil [Olshey] and I are collaborating regularly with her on all major organizational decisions.”

As Quick details, Jody Allen has decisively ruled on a handful of major decisions facing the team within the last couple months, including giving the front office the go-ahead to make a potential trade. Although that deal had ownership approval, it ultimately didn’t materialize.

According to McGowan, any rumors that Allen – who was named the executor and trustee of her brother’s estate after his death – is not in favor of keeping the Trail Blazers are “crazy talk and speculation.” McGowan also noted that he shared a three-year business plan for the Blazers with Allen and that the business side of the franchise is flourishing.

“Jody has empowered me and Neil to do our jobs,” McGowan said. “She makes the final decisions, but there has been no handcuffs … she has been a quick decision maker.”

Merritt Paulson Could Be Prime Candidate For Blazers Ownership

  • John Canzano of The Oregonian casts a vote for Merritt Paulson to end up with ownership of the Trail Blazers if the team get put up for sale. Paulson is the majority owner of the Portland Timbers, a Major League Soccer team, as well as the Portland Thorns, a National Women’s Soccer League team.