Quincy Pondexter

Pelicans Acquire Nikola Mirotic From Bulls

The Pelicans and Bulls have finalized a trade that sends forward Nikola Mirotic to New Orleans, with both clubs confirming via press releases that the deal is official. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link) first reported that the Pelicans and Bulls had reached an agreement in principle.Mirotic vertical

The two teams appeared to be on the verge of a trade earlier this week, but hit a roadblock in the form of Mirotic’s $12.5MM team option for 2018/19. The veteran forward, who had veto rights unless that option was exercised, wanted New Orleans to pick it up, but the Pelicans were initially unwilling to do so due to concerns about their ability to retain Mirotic and re-sign DeMarcus Cousins without going into luxury tax territory.

The Pelicans have now guaranteed Mirotic’s $12.5MM salary for next season, which clinched the deal, per Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Omer Asik and a future first-round pick are headed to Chicago, as was the case in the initial agreement.

New Orleans needed to include at least one more salary to stay under a hard cap, so Tony Allen heads to Chicago too, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Allen will likely be waived by the Bulls, Woj tweets.

The Pelicans will open one extra roster spot by also adding Jameer Nelson to the trade, tweets K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Nelson may also be cut, but it probably won’t happen immediately, per Johnson, who tweets that the point guard’s future is unclear. Paxson said that there is a week left until the trade deadline so the Bulls still have time to decide on waiving players, Johnson tweets.

In order to complete a three-for-one deal, the Bulls will have to open up a roster spot, since they currently only have a single opening. Quincy Pondexter looks like the strongest candidate to be waived.

[RELATED: Bulls to waive Pondexter]

Speaking of Pondexter, according to Johnson (Twitter link), the Bulls will also be returning the Pelicans’ own 2018 second-round pick to New Orleans after initially acquiring it in a September trade that landed Pondexter in Chicago. That pick served as an incentive to convince the Pelicans to exercise Mirotic’s second-year team option, Johnson notes (via Twitter).

The first-round pick the Bulls are getting in the swap will be the Pelicans’ 2018 first-rounder, and it will have “minimal” protections, tweets Wojnarowski. TNT’s David Aldridge clarifies (via Twitter) that it’ll be top-five protected this year, while Johnson tweets that it’ll be top-eight protected in 2019. Finally, Woj adds that there will be a pick-swapping option in the 2021 draft, with the Bulls having the opportunity to swap their second-round pick for the Pelicans’ second-rounder.

“The draft asset we acquired was far and away the best thing we had got (in talks),” Bulls executive vice president John Paxson said to reporters, including Johnson. “It’s consistent with the direction and plan we talked about this summer.”

Mirotic, who has been the subject of trade rumors throughout the 2017/18 campaign, was sidelined with facial injuries to start the season after being punched by teammate Bobby Portis during an altercation in practice. Mirotic’s camp reportedly issued an ultimatum in the fall in an effort to get the Bulls to trade either Mirotic or Portis, but the power forwards were willing to bury the hatchet and coexist on the court when Mirotic got healthy.

Since returning to action, Mirotic has enjoyed the most productive year of his NBA career, averaging 16.8 PPG and 6.4 RPG to go along with a .474/.429/.823 shooting line. All of those numbers are career highs. Despite his solid play and the club’s improved record, Mirotic was still said to prefer a trade out of Chicago, and was pulled out of action this week as the Bulls attempted to finalize a deal.

As the Bulls explored the market for Mirotic, the Jazz and Pistons were cited most frequently as potential trade partners. However, Detroit landed a bigger fish on Monday, acquiring Blake Griffin from the Clippers, and Utah was reportedly unwilling to include a first-round pick in an offer for the stretch four.

The Bulls, who were said to be seeking a first-rounder for Mirotic all along, will get that pick from the Pelicans, though they’ll have to give up a second-rounder and take on an unwanted contract in the process. Asik, a former Bull, is earning about $10.6MM this season, with a guaranteed salary worth $11.29MM in 2018/19. The veteran center has one more year on his deal in 2019/20, but it’s only partially guaranteed for $3MM. Allen and Nelson are on expiring minimum salaries, so they won’t have any impact on the cap beyond this season.

As for the Pelicans, they’re set to fill the lineup hole created when Cousins went down on Friday with a season-ending Achilles injury, and they may not be done adding frontcourt help. New Orleans has been strongly linked to Greg Monroe, who is being bought out by the Suns, and Scott Kushner of The Advocate tweets that the acquisition of Mirotic won’t adversely affect the club’s pursuit of Monroe. In fact, by clearing a little salary and opening up a pair of roster spots in this deal, adding Monroe may be even more viable for the Pelicans, who have room to add two players on minimum salaries, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link) — still, the team may not be able to offer him as significant a role with Mirotic now in the mix.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bulls Waive Quincy Pondexter

5:13pm: With the Nikola Mirotic trade now official, Pondexter has formally been waived.

12:57pm: The Bulls intend to waive veteran sharpshooter Quincy Pondexter, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The move will clear a second roster spot for Chicago, allowing the team to accommodate the incoming players in a three-for-one trade with the Pelicans.

[RELATED: Bulls to trade Nikola Mirotic to Pelicans]

Pondexter, who will turn 30 in March, missed the last two NBA seasons while dealing with health problems that were viewed as potentially life-threatening. However, he was able to get back on the court this season, playing for the Bulls after a September salary-dump trade sent him from New Orleans to Chicago.

Although Pondexter has been able to play again, he hasn’t been his old self — in 23 games (8.5 MPG) for the Bulls, he has averaged just 2.0 PPG with a dismal .286/.136/.824 shooting line. Coming into 2017/18, he owned a career .424 FG% and .365 3PT%.

Pondexter’s $3,853,931 salary will remain on the Bulls’ cap for this season, but that’s not of major concern to the franchise, since team salary remains below the minimum floor for 2017/18. Pondexter’s contract expires at season’s end, so Chicago won’t be on the hook for any future salary.

2018 Free Agent Stock Watch: Chicago Bulls

After navigating the drama of last season and coming out in a solid position, the Bulls will need to do everything they can to keep the momentum of their rebuild rolling.

The club has shown glimpses of being a competent squad at times this season, with a number of intriguing assets already on the roster. However, nobody would bat an eye if the Bulls end up bottoming out with a solid pick in the lottery.

Much of Chicago’s long-term success will come down to the eventual growth of players like Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn, but don’t think that the forthcoming free agency period won’t represent its own opportunities for progress.

Zach LaVine, SG, 23 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $9.6MM deal in 2014
It’s hard to believe that LaVine is still so young considering how long he’s been in the league. This summer he’ll hit the market as a restricted free agent following a torn ACL that sidelined him for parts of each of the past two seasons. That’s good news and bad news for Chicago. Like the rest of us, the Bulls are intrigued by LaVine’s ceiling and an abbreviated campaign isn’t enough to base such an important long-term decision on. That said, other teams will have even less to base a substantial offer on. Given the uncertainty around his health and even his ability to be a primary offensive weapon, it’s hard to imagine the Bulls offering a max contract but they’ve got enough cap flexibility to make him their highest-paid player in 2018/19 and beyond, assuming they like what they see out of him down the stretch.

Nikola Mirotic, PF, 27 (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $25MM deal in 2017Nikola Mirotic vertical
It’s hard to imagine that Mirotic will still be in a Bulls uniform come next summer considering that earlier today it seemed all but certain he would be traded to the Pelicans. Nonetheless, Mirotic’s contract situation will be similar wherever he lands up — his $12.5MM team option for 2018/19 is a bargain. Mirotic has shown that he’s capable of having a major impact on his ball club and any team that brings him on ahead of the February 8 trade deadline would be wise to lock him in at the discount. The open-ended contract buffs his value as a trade chip for Chicago but at the end of the day he’s a stretch four with no major red flags. That’s worth $12.5MM.

David Nwaba, SG, 25 (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $1.4MM deal in 2017
The Bulls are rebuilding their roster from the ground up, so players like Nwaba hold appeal even if they don’t necessarily scream team cornerstone. Nwaba is a respected perimeter defender that gels well with other, more offensively inclined weapons on the roster. There may be a few teams interested in poaching him for the intangibles that he brings to the court, just as Jonathon Simmons had suitors last summer, but a dearth of league-wide cap space may keep things in check. My guess is that the Bulls would be happy to cut Nwaba a check similar to Simmons’ (~$6MM per) so long as it’s on a short-term deal.

Quincy Pondexter, SF, 30 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $14MM deal in 2014
It’s impressive enough that Pondexter is back on the court after his years-long battle with injuries and illness. This year, his first with the Bulls after coming over in a salary clearing trade from the Pelicans, is the last of a four-year contract extension that’s basically felt like 12. It’s hard to envision Pondexter back in Chicago once the deal expires, but he could stick around the league if he can prove to other teams that he’s healthy enough to play the role of veteran gunner. He’s certainly earned the opportunity, at least.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bulls Notes: Pondexter, Portis, Dunn

After a tumultuous two years on the sidelines, Bulls forward Quincy Pondexter made an emotional return to the court in Chicago’s season opener, Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago writes. The 29-year-old missed the last two seasons recovering from a knee injury, as well as a life-threatening MRSA infection.

Just last January one of Pondexter’s knee surgeries went south, resulting in the guard nearly dying in a New York hospital due to the antibiotic-resistant infection. “It wasn’t looking good,” Pondexter said. “It was tough. Being able to play basketball again in less than a year is crazy. This journey has been amazing.

Pondexter scored eight points in his return but despite a prolific three-point shot, the veteran’s biggest contribution to the young Bulls will likely be his leadership. Pondexter has served as a valued role player for the Pelicans and the Grizzlies and will look to continue where he left off in 2014/15.

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Head coach Fred Hoiberg told Nick Friedell of ESPN that Bobby Portis apologized to his teammates in a recent team meeting.
  • There are too many variables at play for Bulls President of Basketball Operations John Paxson to put a timeline on the team’s rebuild, Cody Westerlund of 670 The Score tweets.
  • If the Bulls were hoping for a quiet 2017/18 season to develop young players and establish a new culture, that vanished the moment Bobby Portis punched Nikola Mirotic, Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago writes. Now the club in transition will be viewed under a microscope.
  • Second-year guard Kris Dunn could make his season debut as early as next week, NBA writer Sean Highkin tweets. Dunn had been expected to be sidelined 2-to-4 weeks as recently as last week.

Southwest Rumors: Noel, Carmelo, Tucker, Pondexter

Mavs big man Nerlens Noel will likely come off the bench this season behind Dirk Nowitzki, coach Rick Carlisle told Tim MacMahon of ESPN and other media members. Noel started 12 of 22 games after being acquired from the 76ers in February. Carlisle informed Noel and agent Rich Paul of his plans over the weekend, MacMahon adds. “At this point in time, Dirk at the 5 position is probably the best scenario for Dirk and for our team, and I just don’t think that Dirk is a guy that’s going to come off the bench as long as I’m here,” Carlisle said. “So there’s a very good chance that Nerlens will come off the bench.” Noel had a tumultuous summer as a restricted free agent, changing agents and ultimately signing Dallas’ qualifying offer of $4.1MM when he didn’t get the contract offers he expected. Noel will an unrestricted free agent next summer.

In other developments around the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets were never close to acquiring Carmelo Anthony before he was traded to the Thunder, according to a Houston Chronicle report. GM Daryl Morey said he wasn’t disappointed that he failed to work out something with the Knicks, the report adds. “We were involved in rumors in a situation he was very interested in coming here,” he said. “We had some interest if we could maybe work it out, but never did.”
  • Small forward P.J. Tucker will miss some of training camp because of a hamstring injury, according to another Chronicle report. Tucker suffered the injury during a recent workout but it’s not considered a major issue, the report adds. Tucker signed a four-year contract with the Rockets as a free agent this summer.
  • Former Pelicans forward Quincy Pondexter contracted a life-threatening infection while awaiting a third surgery on his problematic knee in January, he told Chris Haynes of ESPN. He required surgery to flush out the infection and spent a month in the hospital after the knee operation, Haynes continues. Pondexter was then dealt to the Bulls earlier this month. “It was a shock,” Pondexter told Haynes. “I was tired of letting the organization and fans down the last two years, and I wanted to do my best to help the Pelicans return to the playoffs. It was definitely a gut punch.” He also said he was never fined or missed an appointment during his knee rehab in 2015, refuted what coach Alvin Gentry claimed at the time.
  • Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge shrugged off the trade rumors this summer and came to camp with something to prove, Melissa Rohlin of the San Antonio Express-News reports. “I’m a guy who is never satisfied,” he told Rohlin. “I’m definitely going to show that I can play my game and I’m still good.”

Pelicans Trade Quincy Pondexter To Bulls

SEPTEMBER 1, 2:55pm: The deal is now official, the Pelicans announced in a press release.

In exchange for Pondexter, a 2018 second-rounder, and cash, the Bulls are sending the Pelicans the draft rights to Ater Majok, according to Brett Martel of The Associated Press (Twitter link). Majok, a 2011 pick who is currently playing in Lebanon, had his rights traded from the Lakers to Chicago in last summer’s Jose Calderon swap.

AUGUST 31, 4:52pm: There has been a clarification regarding the trade courtesy of CSN Chicago’s Vincent Goodwill. The Bulls will receive Pondexter and a 2018 second-pick, as well as cash.

4:44pm: The Bulls and Pelicans are finalizing a trade that would send Quincy Pondexter to Chicago for a second-round draft pick, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets. An update, however, suggests that it will be New Orleans giving up the pick in addition to Pondexter.

Pondexter hasn’t seen NBA action since 2014/15 when he started 28 games for the Pelicans and 30 contests total. Since then, he’s struggled through a particularly troublesome knee injury, his health remaining in limbo ahead of the 2017/18 season.

While the Bulls may end up ultimately waiving Pondexter, the second-round pick will serve them well as they navigate a long anticipated rebuild. The addition of Pondexter’s $3.9MM contract will presumably be absorbed into Chicago’s $15.3MM trade exception, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets.

Considering New Orleans’ need for a perimeter threat in light of Solomon Hill‘s long-term hamstring injury, the 29-year-old Pondexter would be an extremely valuable asset for the franchise if there was any sense of optimism that he could be healthy for the upcoming campaign. In June, however, general manager Dell Demps spoke about how uncertain the forward’s status was.

We had previously identified Pondexter as a candidate to be waived and stretched before the August 31 deadline, particularly given New Orleans’ proximity to the tax line. However, by finding a trade partner for the veteran swingman, the Pelicans will avoid carrying his cap hit in 2017/18 or stretching it across the next three seasons.

Five Candidates To Be Waived With Stretch Provision

NBA teams have about two more weeks to apply the stretch provision to the 2017/18 cap hits for players they waive. After August 31, teams will no longer be eligible to stretch salaries for the coming season, and the stretch provision will only apply to future seasons on a player’s contract.

The stretch provision is a CBA rule that allows teams to stretch a player’s remaining salary across additional seasons. For July and August, the rule dictates that a team can pay out the player’s salary over twice the number of years remaining on his contract, plus one. So a contract with three years left on it could be stretched out over seven years. After August 31, only the future years on the contract can be stretched in that manner.

In practical terms, here’s what that means for a player who is earning $6MM in each of the next two years ($12MM total):

Year Current contract Stretched by August 31 Stretched after August 31
2017/18 $6,000,000 $2,400,000 $6,000,000
2018/19 $6,000,000 $2,400,000 $2,000,000
2019/20 $2,400,000 $2,000,000
2020/21 $2,400,000 $2,000,000
2021/22 $2,400,000

In some cases, it can be advantageous to wait until September to waive a player and use the stretch provision. If a team isn’t close to the tax line and can’t clear additional cap room by stretching a player’s current-year salary, it may make more sense to be patient, since that extra immediate cap room wouldn’t be useful.

However, there are several teams around the NBA who may be motivated to waive and stretch players prior to that August 31 deadline. Here are five stretch provision candidates to keep an eye on during the next couple weeks:

Read more

Pelicans, Pistons Discussing Reggie Jackson Trade

The Pistons and Pelicans have discussed a trade that would send Reggie Jackson to New Orleans, according to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. Scotto adds that New Orleans could ship out E’Twaun Moore, Alexis Ajinca, and/or Quincy Pondexter in exchange for Jackson’s services.

Jackson, 27, still has three years and $51MM left on his deal and has been on the trade block since last season’s trade deadline. The Pelicans, who re-signed Jrue Holiday to a five-year, $126MM pact, feel that a Holiday/Jackson backcourt would be successful, per Scotto.

Jackson averaged 14.5 PPG, 5.2 APG, and 2.2 RPG in just over 27 minutes per game for the Pistons last season. However, a knee injury held him to 52 games, his lowest total since his rookie year with the Thunder.

Detroit is in a transitional phase, therefore no roster spot is safe. Aron Baynes has departed for the Celtics and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is set to sign elsewhere in free agency. While the team has acquired Anthony Tolliver, Reggie Bullock, Avery Bradley, and Langston Galloway, it’s clear that the team is focused on shorter commitments and smaller salaries.

In a possible trade, both Moore (three years, $25.9MM) and Ajinca (two years, $10.3MM) have multiple years remaining on their deals; both players provided solid contributions off the bench for New Orleans last season. Pondexter has missed the last two seasons with left knee surgery and has a $3.9MM salary for 2017/18.

Pelicans Looking To Add Shooting, Playmaking

While the Pelicans’ roster features perhaps the most feared frontcourt duo in the NBA, in Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, the team had to part with a handful of guards to acquire Cousins, and will be looking to fortify its perimeter rotation this offseason. General manager Dell Demps confirmed as much during a recent appearance on WLAE in New Orleans, as Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com details.

“The one thing I’ve learned from all these shows you go on, you don’t want to tip your hand and give people (indications of your intentions),” Demps said when asked about his free agency plans. “Sometimes I like to keep things close to the vest, but obviously shooting is going to be important for us, but also you want to get good basketball players who can make plays – I think that’s the way the game is going right now.”

The Pelicans’ top backcourt playmaker, point guard Jrue Holiday, will be an unrestricted free agent next month, so one of the club’s top priorities will be locking up Holiday or landing a viable replacement. However, after sending Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, and Langston Galloway to Sacramento for Cousins, the Pelicans will also be seeking contributors who can make and create shots at the two or three.

[RELATED: 2017 Offseason Salary Cap Digest: New Orleans Pelicans]

One player who would help fill that hole in the Pelicans’ roster is Quincy Pondexter, who has missed the last two seasons with a series of knee injuries. Pondexter remains under contract with New Orleans and made 37.3% of his three-point attempts in his last healthy season (2014/15), but Demps doesn’t sound like he’s penciling in the veteran wing for a spot in the rotation quite yet.

“It’s a little uncertain right now,” said the Pelicans’ GM. “Obviously he hasn’t played since the (2015) playoffs. He’s had some setbacks. He’s had a couple surgeries. It’s tough because he’s one of those glue-type guys who is a leader not only in the locker room, but on the floor. We’ve missed his defense and his shooting. He was a big piece for us, an important pickup when we made that run to the playoffs. We were hoping to have his services the last two years. He’s going through some testing right now and will be in town this week. We’re hoping to get him back on the floor.”

If the Pelicans are able to re-sign Holiday, they’ll almost certainly remain over the cap this offseason, meaning they’d have the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions available to use on free agents. Those exceptions will be worth about $8.4MM and $3.3MM, respectively.

Omer Asik, Quincy Pondexter Out For Season

MARCH 30: The Pelicans confirmed today that neither Asik nor Pondexter will return to action this season. Asik, who is recovering from a gastrointestinal infection, is expected to resume basketball activities in about three or four weeks.

MARCH 24: Two players on the Pelicans’ roster, center Omer Asik and shooting guard Quincy Pondexter, are not expected to return for the rest of this season, head coach Alvin Gentry confirmed today, per Justin Verrier of ESPN.com.

“Both of those guys will be gearing toward the summer and next year, really,” Gentry said.

Asik, who started 19 of the 31 games he played for the Pelicans earlier this season, hasn’t been a real part of the club’s rotation since mid-December. The veteran center has appeared in just three games for New Orleans since December 21, and hasn’t seen the court at all since February 10. As Verrier notes, Asik contracted a bacterial infection that caused him to lose a significant amount of weight.

As for Pondexter, it has been a long road back for the 29-year-old, who has been sidelined by knee injuries for each of the last two seasons. Pondexter hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since April 2015, when he was a starter for the Pelicans in their first-round loss to the Warriors.

While it’s not particularly surprising that Asik and Pondexter won’t return for the Pelicans this season, it will be interesting to see how they fit into the team’s plans going forward. Asik’s contract continues to be an albatross for New Orleans — it will exceed $10.5MM next season and increase to $11.2MM+ in 2018/19. Pondexter, meanwhile, has one more year left on his deal at just under $4MM next season. Both players could be on the trade block this summer, though they’ll probably have very limited value.

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