Sam Dekker

Sam Dekker Out 2-4 Weeks With Ankle Sprain

Cavaliers forward Sam Dekker will miss the next two to four weeks with a left ankle injury, the team announced today in a press release. Dekker left Monday’s game with the injury, which was later diagnosed as an ankle sprain.

Dekker, acquired from the Clippers in an offseason trade, didn’t initially project to play major minutes for the Cavaliers, but took on a larger role when Kevin Love went down with an injury of his own last month.

After playing just 44 total minutes in Cleveland’s first five games, Dekker averaged 25.2 MPG in the next five, despite his game on Monday coming to an early end. In total, the 24-year-old has averaged 6.3 PPG and 3.7 RPG in 18.8 MPG for the Cavs, with a .458/.385/.800 shooting line.

With both Love and Dekker sidelined for at least the next couple weeks – and likely much longer in Love’s case – the Cavs find themselves thin at power forward. Larry Nance Jr. could see a bump in playing time, while forwards like Cedi Osman and Kyle Korver may also spend more time at the four.

Cavaliers Notes: Smith, Dekker, Korver

The Cavaliers told J.R. Smith and his representatives over the summer that it might be difficult to find playing time for him, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Rodney Hood is expected to start at shooting guard, with George Hill at the point. The Cavs want to give significant minutes to rookie Collin Sexton, and Jordan Clarkson excelled in a reserve role with the Lakers. That leaves Smith to compete with Kyle Korver and maybe David Nwaba for wing minutes.

Coach Tyronn Lue believes Smith can still contribute, but he’s now 33 and is coming off his two worst seasons. He lost 20 pounds during the offseason and can still help on defense, but Lue doesn’t like to use him and Korver together, which could mean one of them won’t get see many minutes.

There’s more this morning out of Cleveland, all courtesy of Vardon:

  • Smith has taken over LeBron James‘ role as vocal leader in the locker room. After Saturday’s scrimmage, he was lecturing younger players for not showing up at the training facility early enough before practice and not returning text messages from the training staff.
  • After being with three teams in four seasons, Sam Dekker may have found a home with the Cavs, Vardon writes in the same story. Cleveland picked up the 24-year-old from the Clippers this summer using a trade exception from the Kyrie Irving deal. Lue compares Dekker to Avery Bradley in how he moves without the ball and plans to use him as the primary back-up power forward. “I’m a Midwest guy, back in the Midwest,” Dekker said. “I’m just welcoming it, trying to stay in an open mind, keep learning, but really trying to be aggressive and show my true game and show who I am and I think that’s worked well so far for me.” 
  • Korver was used as a standstill shooter when James was running the offense, but this season he will resume the role he had with the Hawks, with multiple screens designed to set up open shots. Vardon notes that Cleveland has ranked third and second in made 3-pointers over the past two seasons, but won’t have James and Irving to break down defenses anymore. “They’re going to be different types of 3s,” Korver said. “Can we still be a good 3-point-shooting team? I think so. … We’re all going to be moving a lot more. It’s going to be harder to guard each of us.”

Central Notes: Arcidiacono, Dekker, Walton, Clarkson

The way that Ryan Arcidiacono‘s contract with the Bulls is structured to keep him eligible for the G League, Basketball Insiders’ Eric Pincus tweets. Arcidiacano has a $50K guarantee, which will allow him to play with the Windy City Bulls. He signed a minimum one-year deal worth $1,349,383. The 6’3” guard out of Villanova appeared in 24 NBA games last season as a two-way player, averaging 2.0 points in nearly 13 minutes of action. He posted a 13.8/4.5/8.6 line in 37 G League games.

In other news around the Central Division:

  • The Clippers will send $1,247,494 to the Cavaliers as part of the Sam Dekker trade, which was made official on Tuesday, Pincus reveals in another tweet. That amount isn’t random — it’s the exact difference between Dekker’s salary and a veteran’s minimum salary, essentially allowing the Cavs to take a flier on the forward at the minimum.
  • Derrick Walton Jr. gives the Bulls another alternative, along with Arcidiacono, to Cameron Payne as Kris Dunn‘s backup, Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago notes. Walton is expected to sign with Chicago, according to his agent, after the Heat cut ties with the former University of Michigan floor leader last month. Walton is a better perimeter shooter than Payne, who is more comfortable having the ball in his hands and running pick-and-rolls, Michael Walton continues. The Bulls have a number of players who can create for themselves, so Walton might be a better fit behind Dunn, Michael Walton adds.
  • Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson is unlikely to play for Philippines in this month’s Asian Games, according to a Sportando report. Clarkson was a late addition to their national team but won’t be able to join them in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Cavaliers Notes: Schedule, James, Sexton, Dekker

As expected when LeBron James announced he was leaving for Los Angeles, the Cavaliers have fallen out of the mix for the NBA’s spotlight games. In the partial schedule announced earlier today, Cleveland isn’t included in any of the nationally televised games for the opening week, Christmas Day or Martin Luther King Day, notes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. It’s quite a change for the Cavs, who hosted last season’s opener and whose matchup with the Warriors had become a yuletide tradition.

Cleveland will have at least once marquee game on November 21 when James returns with the Lakers for his only appearance in the city this season, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

There’s more Cavaliers news to pass along:

  • First-round pick Collin Sexton tells Ben Stinar of Amico Hoops that he’s excited about the opportunity awaiting him in Cleveland. The eighth selection in this year’s draft, Sexton will be counted on to eventually become the primary creator in the Cavaliers’ offense. “My role will just be able to come in and learn and have an impact on the team,” he said. “No matter what it is, being a distributor, being a scorer. Just going out there playing my game and being the best me I can be.”
  • The Cavs get a B grade from ESPN’s Kevin Pelton for their acquisition of Sam Dekker. Cleveland needed to find someone who could fill both forward spots after losing James and Jeff Green to free agency, and Dekker, who was picked up from the Clippers at minimal cost, has shown an ability to handle both roles. Pelton states that Dekker is better than anyone the team could have signed in free agency.
  • Standing pat until the season starts may be the Cavaliers’ best strategy at this point, according to Evan Dammarell of Forbes. He says the Cavs wouldn’t have benefited from a rumored Kyle Korver for Jerryd Bayless swap with the Sixers and doubts that the Rockets, who have reportedly expressed interest in J.R. Smith have much to offer that Cleveland would want.

Clippers Trade Sam Dekker To Cavaliers

AUGUST 7: The Cavaliers have officially acquired Dekker from the Clippers, the club announced today in a press release. The Clippers will receive the draft rights to Vladimir Veremeenko in exchange for Dekker, the draft rights to Renaldas Seibutis, and cash.

Veremeenko and Seibutis were drafted in 2006 and 2007, respectively, and aren’t expected to ever play in the NBA.

AUGUST 5: The Cavaliers are finalizing a trade with the Clippers that would see forward Sam Dekker dealt from Los Angeles to Cleveland, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), the two teams are still working out the specifics, but the trade will essentially allow the Clips to start clearing their roster logjam.

Dekker, 24, spent his first two NBA seasons in Houston after being selected 18th overall in the 2015 draft by the Rockets. He was included in last June’s Chris Paul blockbuster between the Rockets and Clippers, part of a package that also included Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, and Montrezl Harrell, among others.

Dekker saw his minutes cut back on his new team in 2017/18, averaging just 12.1 MPG in 73 contests for the Clippers. The former Wisconsin standout recorded 4.2 PPG and 2.4 RPG with a .494 FG% for L.A.

Having re-signed several key players and added a few new ones this offseason, the Clippers were carrying 16 players on fully guaranteed contracts, a total that didn’t include Beverley and his non-guaranteed deal. As such, the club had been expected to trade or release a couple veterans before the start of the regular season in October. The Clips will get a head start on that cutdown process by moving Dekker and his guaranteed $2,760,095 salary. The move will also give the team a little extra breathing room below the tax line.

The Cavaliers won’t have to send out any salary in exchange for Dekker, since they have a traded player exception large enough to accommodate his salary. Cleveland created a $5.8MM trade exception last August in their Kyrie Irving trade with the Celtics — it’s the biggest of four TPEs currently held by the club, and is the only one sizable enough to fit Dekker’s salary. The Clips figure to create a new TPE of their own worth Dekker’s salary.

The move to Cleveland will give Dekker a chance at a fresh start, according to Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), who hears from one source that “a lack of maturity and focus regarding basketball” have been issues for the young forward early in his career.

It will be interesting to see how the Cavaliers plan to use Dekker — he has served primarily as a four, but has spent a little time at the three as well. There may be a clearer path to playing time for Dekker at small forward, where Kyle Korver and Cedi Osman currently sit atop the Cavs’ depth chart, with David Nwaba perhaps entering the mix as well. But Dekker could potentially play at power forward alongside bigs like Kevin Love or Larry Nance in smaller lineups.

While the Cavs’ team salary will inch a little closer to the tax threshold with the acquisition of Dekker, it shouldn’t be a major concern for the team unless Nwaba is getting a lucrative deal and/or Rodney Hood receives a substantial raise.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Clippers To Pick Up Sam Dekker’s Fourth-Year Option

The Clippers will pick up Sam Dekker‘s team option for the 2018/19 season, according to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). As a result, the Wisconsin product will make slightly over $2.76MM next season

Dekker came to Los Angeles as part of the Chris Paul trade. He hasn’t been a major cog in the Clippers system this season, earning a total of 32 minutes over his five games played with the club. The combo forward has made 41.7% of his shots this season while sporting a player efficiency rating of 11.6.

Dekker has played a total of 89 games in his career, which includes four postseason contests with Houston last season. He was the No. 18 overall pick in the 2015 draft.

Jerry West Talks Dubs, CP3, Dekker, Ballmer, Lakers

Longtime basketball executive Jerry West surprised many NBA observers earlier this offseason when he decided to leave the Warriors for the Clippers. Speaking to Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, West acknowledged that he was sad to leave Golden State and had been very happy working for the Warriors, chalking up his decision to timing.

Although he’s a consultant for the Clippers now, West still views the Warriors as the overwhelming favorite to win another championship in 2018, telling Kawakami that “everyone’s playing for second place right now.”

In addition to sharing his lingering fondness for his old team, West also touched on several other noteworthy topics during his discussion with Kawakami. Here are a few highlights:

On whether he knew Chris Paul would leave when he left the Warriors for the Clippers:

“I felt he was. Yes. I didn’t think he was going to stay there. You just get a sense that some players are going to move, you do. You just get a sense… there was all the talk. I know that Steve [Ballmer] met with him. I think Lawrence [Frank] and Doc [Rivers] both met with him. I did not meet with him or talk with him. I just had the sense when I first started talking to them, I asked them, ‘You may not be able to keep either one of these players, him or Blake Griffin.’ I said, ‘How’s that going to work?’ I think they felt there was a chance for sure that he was going to leave.”

On the Clippers moving on without Paul:

“I know some of the people down there [in Houston] and obviously Mike D’Antoni, he’s a friend of mine, he has a place at the Green Brier, and he’s very high on the players we got. He mentioned to me, he said that he thinks they’ll get to play there more and particularly if Sam Dekker can be healthy, he’s a very good prospect. He’s had two seasons of injuries, but he seems very healthy.

“It also gives Doc a chance as a coach to be able to coach differently, more ball movement. Chris was a ball-dominant point guard. [Not having Paul] encourages more movement. When a coach has to do things a little bit differently, that might be challenging but also might be fun for him. Even though we’ll miss Chris, it’s part of the NBA.”

On Clippers owner Steve Ballmer:

“[In] a lot of ways he reminds me of the kind of owners that you want, somebody who’s really committed to trying to build a team. He’s smart, he lets people do their job, he doesn’t think he’s someone who wants to run the team. He’s given Lawrence and Doc a lot of leeway there and they’re going to hire two new people there in the front office. It’s just… I see some changes from the prior regime there that I think are going to be really positive.

On whether he thought he might return to the Lakers rather than joining the Clippers:

“Absolutely not. I had no contact with the Lakers. Honestly, I would’ve never gone back there even if they would’ve contacted me. Never had any conversations, never had a desire there. I knew that would’ve never happened.”

Be sure to check out Kawakami’s full interview with West for more interesting observations from The Logo.

Clippers Trade Chris Paul To Rockets

Reversing his decision to head to the free agent market, Chris Paul has opted into the final year of his contract as part of a trade. The Clippers have sent Paul to the Rockets in exchange for a massive trade package, Houston confirmed today in a press release. The Clippers will receive the following pieces in the deal:Chris Paul vertical

“Since winning back-to-back championships, the pursuit of a third title has remained the ultimate goal for our franchise,” Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said in a statement. “We feel that combining two of the league’s greatest players in James Harden and Chris Paul, operating in Coach [Mike] D’Antoni’s system, gives us a championship caliber team that will compete at the highest level for years to come.”

The move is a bombshell, particularly since Paul had been expected to reach free agency this weekend — a report last week indicated that he had made the decision to opt out of his contract. However, CP3 had yet to formally file the paperwork to exercise that early termination option. Instead, he’ll waive the ETO, which will allow him to play out the final year of his deal and become eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2018, unless he signs an extension with Houston before next July. Paul is currently set to earn $24,268,959 in 2017/18.

According to Wojnarowski, the Clippers and Rockets reached an agreement after Paul informed L.A. that he intended to sign with Houston in free agency. From the Clippers’ perspective, the trade with Houston is a way to recoup some value for the star point guard and avoid losing him for nothing. Meanwhile, the Rockets will no longer have to worry about trying to dump a salary or two in order to create enough room for a maximum salary slot for Paul.

The Rockets, who were reported on Tuesday to be a “serious” threat in the Paul sweepstakes, have now secured their man before the free agent period even gets underway. The club’s star-studded backcourt will create an intriguing dynamic, since Harden is coming off an MVP-caliber season in which he served as Houston’s primary ball-handler. According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Paul and Harden were “determined” to play together, so the duo is presumably unconcerned about how the ball-handling duties will be shared going forward.

It will be interesting to see if Rockets president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has anything else up his sleeve for the team in July. According to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, the club is still on the lookout for a third star to complement Paul and Harden. Houston was reportedly involved in Paul George trade talks, though the club surrendered some valuable assets in today’s move, so it’s not clear whether Morey still has enough pieces to interest the Pacers.

With Paul now headed to Houston, the Spurs – who were rumored to be a contender for Paul – will have to look elsewhere if they intend to sign a marquee free agent point guard. Teams around the NBA hoping to re-sign their own star point guards, such as the Pelicans (Jrue Holiday) and Raptors (Kyle Lowry), may also be breathing a little easier, since the Rockets were viewed as a team capable of shaking up the point guard market.

As for the Clippers, it’s not clear yet if today’s deal will be the first domino to fall in a full-fledged rebuilding process for the club, or merely a retooling of the roster. In Beverley and Williams, the Clips will acquire a pair of effective and affordable veteran guards who figure to step into key roles right away. Dekker is more of a wild card, but the 23-year-old big man flashed some upside in a rotational role for the Rockets last season, as did Harrell.

Paul’s departure also figures to be a factor in Blake Griffin‘s impending free agency. Unlike Paul, Griffin has formally exercised his ETO with the Clippers, so he’s on track to become an unrestricted free agent on Saturday. Given the reported tension between Paul and Griffin over the years, it’s possible that the trade of CP3 makes Griffin more likely to re-sign — Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net (Twitter link) spoke to several league executives who speculated as much.

[RELATED: Clippers confident about re-signing Blake Griffin]

Because the combined salaries of Beverley, Dekker, and Williams – the package reported initially for the Clippers – weren’t enough for the Rockets to land Paul, Houston spent most of the day acquiring players with non-guaranteed salaries from other teams to include in the deal. Liggins and Hilliard will be flipped to the Clippers, but Tim Quarterman, Shawn Long, and Ryan Kelly, who were all traded to Houston earlier today, won’t be part of this transactions — Houston instead included Harrell and Wiltjer.

I explained the math from the Rockets’ perspective earlier today. By structuring the deal as they did, the Rockets will remain over the cap and will have the mid-level exception ($8.4MM) and bi-annual exception ($3.3MM) available to pursue free agents when the new league year begins.

The Clippers waived retiring forward Paul Pierce in order to adhere to the NBA’s offseason roster limit of 20 players.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter links) broke news of the trade. Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle and Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times were among those who reported key details along the way.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

And-Ones: Goodwin, Lopez, Harrell

Archie Goodwin, whose second 10-day deal with Brooklyn will expire tonight, is on the verge of signing a two-year deal with the Nets. Coach Kenny Atkinson is excited about the opportunity to bring him back, as Brian Lewis of the New York Post relays.

“I think Archie has shown some really good things. Even in [his short stints], it’s like, ‘Man, I want to see more,’” Atkinson said. “Archie, he’s been showing good things. Let’s find a way to get him in.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Brook Lopez, who has long been the subject of trade rumors, is shooting more than ever from behind the arc, SB Nation’s Net Income details. Lopez entered the season with just three made 3-pointers in his career, but Atkinson installed an offense that emphasizes the 3-ball and the center now has a chance to break a record for most long distance swishes by a 7-footer. Lopez has 129 made 3-pointers for the Nets this season and with 23 more made buckets, he’ll break Dirk Nowitzki‘s single season record of 151 made shots.
  • With both Sam Dekker and Ryan Anderson sidelined, the Rockets‘ void at power forward might suggest that Montrezl Harrell will get more of an opportunity to play the four. Coach Mike D’Antoni said that won’t the case, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle relays. “I like guys who space the floor,” D’Antoni added. Harrell played power forward during Sunday’s win over Phoenix, but he missed all three of his 3-point attempts.
  • Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer explains how the next five games will determine the Sixers‘ chances of getting a top-3 pick. Philadelphia currently owns the fifth spot in our Reverse Standings.

Sam Dekker Breaks Hand, Out 3 To 4 Weeks

The Rockets will open the playoffs without Sam Dekker, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. The second-year forward suffered a broken left hand Sunday night in a fourth-quarter collision with Jared Dudley of the Suns.

Dekker will see a specialist today in Houston, but the initial prognosis has him out for three to four weeks (Twitter link). That would cover at least one playoff series.

“It was a loose ball,” Dekker explained. “It [his left hand] got pinned up. I knew right away. Things happen. It’s basketball. I’ll be back. I hope I can get back and help the team in the playoffs.”

Dekker made his second start of the season Sunday for the short-handed Rockets, who were playing without James Harden, Trevor Ariza and Ryan Anderson. He has been a solid contributor all year, averaging 6.5 points and 3.7 rebounds in about 18 minutes per game.

Dekker’s injury will give the Rockets a chance to take a closer look at Troy Williams over the final five games of the regular season. The former Grizzlies small forward signed with Houston last month and saw him first game action Sunday, hitting 6 of 9 from 3-point range and scoring 21 points.

“He played, I mean he really played,” said coach Mike D’Antoni. “He is rangy and long. I don’t know if he can shoot like that, if anybody can shoot like that. He made the most of it, that’s for sure. We’ll see, sometimes it’s a Texas gusher where oil comes out and all of a sudden, mud comes out. We’ll go slowly. Don’t want to get too excited.”