San Antonio Spurs

Timberwolves To Pursue Derrick Rose

The Timberwolves plan to target Knicks point guard Derrick Rose in free agency, reports Ian Begley of ESPN.com.

Their interest in the 28-year-old point guard stems from his connection with coach/executive Tom Thibodeau, who coached Rose for five years in Chicago, including his MVP season in 2010/11. The teams had trade talks prior to the deadline involving Rose and Ricky Rubio, although nothing was worked out. Minnesota has roughly $22MM in cap space to spend this summer.

Entering free agency for the first time in his career, Rose should be completely recovered from a meniscus tear in his left knee that ended his season in early April. It’s the latest in a string of injuries that have plagued him over the past six years, although he was able to play 66 and 64 games the past two seasons.

Rose was part of a blockbuster trade that sent him from Chicago to New York last summer, but his first season in New York was seen as a disappointment. He averaged 18 points, 4.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds, but the Knicks won just 31 games, there were persistent questions about his defense and he briefly left the team without explanation in January.

Rose has said he is willing to stay in New York, but there have been conflicting reports about the team’s interest in keeping him.

“He enjoyed playing here even with the losses, which of course surprises us because he’s been on some very successful teams,” said Knicks president Phil Jackson. “But he wants to redeem himself as a player. Which I like that attitude. I like who Derrick represents as himself. He’s very direct about taking on a big challenge.”

Begley adds that San Antonio may also be a potential landing spot for Rose, depending what happens with other free agent point guards.

Rose told reporters this week that winning, not money, will be the priority in selecting his next team.

‘Mutual Interest’ Between Chris Paul, Spurs?

There may be substance behind the rumors that Chris Paul would consider joining the Spurs, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. As a guest on a podcast with ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz, Lowe suggested there is “mutual interest” between the parties.

Paul is considered certain to exercise his early-termination option and give up nearly $24.27MM for next season. He has a June 29th deadline to make that decision. Paul would be eligible for a five-year deal in the neighborhood of $205MM if he remains with the Clippers.

However, at 32, he may put a greater value on a shot at a championship, and San Antonio, which reached the Western Conference finals this year, could improve his chances.

Money would be a major impediment if Paul decides to go that route, as any team other than L.A. would be limited to an offer of four years at about $152MM. Then there’s the matter of cap room. With Pau Gasol expected to opt in for 2017/18, San Antonio only has about $10MM to spend, a figure that could decrease if Dewayne Dedmon ($3MM) and David Lee ($1.6MM) both decide to opt in for another year.

If Paul’s interest is sincere, it could prompt the Spurs to try to shed some salary before the July 1st start of free agency, especially considering their fragile point guard situation. Incumbent starter Tony Parker suffered a ruptured left quadriceps tendon in this year’s playoffs and isn’t guaranteed to be ready for the start of next season. He turned 35 in May and has one year left on his contract, so he doesn’t figure to be in the organization’s long-term plans. Backup Patty Mills is headed toward free agency, and Dejounte Murray played just 38 games as a rookie.

If Paul does consider leaving the Clippers, he will be among the most highly sought-after free agents on the market. A nine-time All-Star, he remains among the top point guards in the league, averaging 18.1 points and 9.2 assists this season.

Spurs Notes: Ginobili, Hanga, Gasol, Mills

The end of the Spurs’ playoff run puts Manu Ginobili in a familiar position of deciding whether he wants to return for another season, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Ginobili, who will turn 40 in July, received two standing ovations late in Monday’s game from Spurs fans, who understood that it may have been his last night in the NBA. After 15 seasons, Ginobili said he will be in no hurry to decide if he wants another one. “I always wanted to let it sink in for three weeks, four weeks, whatever,” Ginobili said. “Then I will sit with my wife and see how it feels.”

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich recognized the magnitude of the moment, giving Ginobili his first start in three years. Ginobili responded with a 15-point, seven-assist performance that showed he might still have a future in the NBA. “It may or may not be the last game he ever plays in,” Popovich said. “I did not want to miss the opportunity to honor him in front of our home fans.”

There’s more news as the offseason begins in San Antonio:

  • Ginobili is among several veteran free agents on the roster, and the Spurs expect most of them to return next season, McDonald notes in the same story. Patty Mills and Jonathon Simmons will both be free agents this summer, although Simmons will be restricted, and Pau Gasol, David Lee and Dewayne Dedmon all have player options for 2017/18. LaMarcus Aldridge said the team still has unfinished business to address. “To get here with so many new guys and so much new transition going on, it’s not a bad season,” he said. “I don’t think guys are satisfied with it. To get to the conference finals wasn’t our goal.”
  • If Ginobili retires, the Spurs will consider bringing over Adam Hanga to replace him, tweets international basketball writer David Pick. The Hungarian swingman was named Defensive Player of the Year in the Euroleague. San Antonio has owned his rights since drafting him with the 59th choice in 2011.
  • Gasol sounds like his mind is already made up about returning, relays Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Gasol, who turns 37 in July, signed a two-year contract last summer that includes a nearly $16.2MM option for next season. “I look forward to continuing to grow” in San Antonio’s system, he said after Monday’s game.
  • Mills plans to consider his options carefully before free agency starts, tweets Jabari Young of The San Antonio Express-News. Mills, 28, has spent the past six years in San Antonio and made close to $3.6MM this season.

Knicks Target Tucker, Cunningham, Simmons

The Knicks are putting together their free agent shopping list with an eye toward players who can contribute on offense and defense, writes Ian Begley of ESPN.com.

One of those players is Raptors small forward P.J. Tucker, who previously played for coach Jeff Hornacek in Phoenix. Hornacek describes Tucker as an intense defender and a leader in the locker room. He could also give the Knicks a 3-point threat, shooting 35.7 from long distance this season, including 40% after a midseason trade to Toronto.

Another target is Pelicans small forward Dante Cunningham, who was the top 3-point shooter in New Orleans this year at 39.2%. Cunningham is also a solid defender and helped the Pels to a 13-8 record when he played at least 28 minutes per game.

Spurs forward Jonathon Simmons has fans in the Knicks organization, but he will be in demand around the league. Simmons is a restricted free agent, so San Antonio can match any offer he receives.

New York will enter free agency with about $19MM to spend, although that number could change significantly if efforts to trade Carmelo Anthony are successful. In addition to adding talent this summer, the Knicks are hoping to retain shooting guard Justin Holiday, who played all 82 games and averaged 7.7 points per night in his first year with the team.

The Knicks may also reopen trade talks for Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio, Begley adds. New York and Minnesota discussed a deal involving Rubio at the trade deadline, and Knicks officials might still be interested.

New York will be looking for more players in the mold of Courtney Lee, who was their lone success among last summer’s major moves. Lee, who is signed for three more seasons, believes the Knicks worked out many of their problems late in the season and are headed in the right direction. He also defended center Joakim Noah, who became a lightning rod for criticism after signing a four-year, $72MM contract.

“Joakim had a lot of injuries that people weren’t aware of during the season,” Lee said. “I know how tough he is and how prideful he is and I’m looking forward to him coming back 100 percent healthy and doing what he does for us on the court. I know he will come back strong and help lead for us.”

Nets May Pursue Jonathon Simmons

  • The Nets may target Spurs forward Jonathon Simmons in free agency, according to NetsDaily. GM Sean Marks has identified small forward as the primary position of need, and Simmons has been outstanding in the playoffs. Simmons, who will be a restricted free agent, has averaged 16 points per game in the Western Conference finals and is shooting 40% from 3-point range. The website also says Brooklyn might be the team to gamble on oft-injured Harry Giles in the draft, and identifies the Sixers, Celtics and Jazz as teams that could be most willing to sell some picks.

Kawhi Leonard ‘Likely Out’ For Game 4

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said today that Kawhi Leonard is “likely out” for Monday’s Game 4, relays ESPN.com.

That means San Antonio will have to ward off elimination without its star forward, who hasn’t played since aggravating a sprained left ankle after landing on Zaza Pachulia after a jump shot in Game 1.

A first-team All-NBA selection, Leonard has been an indispensable part of the Spurs this season. He averaged 25.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per night, and is considered one of the top defenders in the league. He increased those numbers to 27.7 and 7.8 in the playoffs before the injury.

Popovich added that David Lee is doubtful for Monday after being hurt early in Game 3. He was diagnosed with a torn patellar tendon in his left knee, and the Spurs are waiting for MRI results before they make a decision.

David Lee Diagnosed With Torn Patellar Tendon

Already depleted by injuries, the Spurs may have to finish the postseason without David Lee.

The veteran big man was diagnosed with a torn patellar tendon in his left knee after being pulled early in Saturday’s game, according to Michael C. Wright and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. Lee will undergo an MRI today to confirm the extent of the injury.

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich responded, “I have no idea,” when asked about Lee’s status in the post-game press conference.

The injury occurred with 2:57 left in the first quarter when Lee was fouled by Draymond Green while making a layup. He was unable to stay in the game to shoot his free throw and was taken from the court in a wheelchair.

The 33-year-old is in his 12th NBA season and his first with the Spurs. He has a $1.6MM player option for next season and can become a free agent again in July.

San Antonio, which trails Golden State 3-0 in the Western Conference finals, is already playing without Kawhi Leonard, who aggravated an ankle injury in Game 1 of the series, and Tony Parker, who ruptured a quadriceps tendon in the conference semifinals.

Kawhi Leonard To Miss Game 3 Due To Ankle Injury

Spurs forward and finalist for the 2016/17 NBA Most Valuable Player award, Kawhi Leonard, will miss Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors tonight due to a sprained left ankle, the team confirmed.

Leonard initially suffered the left ankle sprain in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Rockets, forcing him to miss most of the contest. After also missing the Spurs’ series-clinching Game 6, he returned to play Golden State, but re-injured the ankle on a controversial closeout by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia — who ironically will also miss Game 3 due to an injured heel — in the third quarter of Game 1. Leonard missed Game 2 as the Spurs fell to a 2-0 series deficit.

“In the end, I guess it’s my decision,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters, including Melissa Rohlin of the San Antonio Express-News, at shootaround on Saturday. “He’s not thrilled that he’s not playing, but he’s not ready, so we’re not going to play him.”

In a separate piece, Rohlin spoke to Leonard about what needs to improve in his ankle before he’s ready to return to the court.

“Just seeing if I can run and at least be myself on the court,” Leonard said. “Don’t want to hobble around or shoot off balance shots. Just want to be able to push with both legs. Just that, really.”

In 12 postseason games, Leonard has averaged 27.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 4.6 APG while providing his usually stellar defense. Instead, the Spurs will enter tonight’s game without its best player as the team tries to salvage a win against the defending Western Conference champions.

No Paul George, Gordon Hayward On All-NBA Teams

The NBA has officially announced its All-NBA teams for the 2016/17 season, and neither Paul George nor Gordon Hayward is among the 15 players honored. That’s big news for both players and their teams, since they’ll be ineligible for the Designated Veteran Extension, reducing the amount of money the Pacers and Jazz – respectively – could offer their star forwards in contract extensions this offseason.

Here are this year’s All-NBA teams:

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team

Based on this year’s All-NBA voting results, Wall is now eligible to sign a Designated Veteran Extension this summer, while Leonard is eligible to sign one next summer. Harden, Westbrook, and Curry are also eligible to sign DVEs this summer, as Bobby Marks of The Vertical notes (via Twitter).

Those Designated Veteran Extensions – which are dependent on a player making an All-NBA team in the year before he signs an extension, or in two of the previous three years – apply to players finishing up their rookie scale extensions. They allow a player re-signing with his own team to earn up to 35% of the salary cap, rather than just 30%. So, if we assume a $101MM salary cap for 2017/18, a player like Curry could sign a new Warriors contract with a starting salary of $35.35MM, instead of $30.3MM.

The Pacers and Jazz will still be able to offer George and Hayward larger and longer contracts than any other team, but the advantage won’t be as significant as it would have been if those players had earned All-NBA spots. Teams can offer their own Bird-rights free agents up to five years (instead of four) and 8% raises (instead of 5%).

Hayward figures to opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer, while George is expected to reach free agency in 2018. George could still become eligible for the DVE in ’18 if the Pacers hang onto him through next season and he earns All-NBA honors a year from now. However, there’s no guarantee that Indiana will be willing to take that risk.

As for the rest of the All-NBA votes, there weren’t any major surprises, particularly on the first two teams. Perhaps the biggest surprise, in a year which was dominated by four clear-cut MVP candidates, is that Harden was the only player who received 100 out of 100 possible First Team votes. Westbrook and James received 99 apiece, while Leonard received 96.

Note: Hoops Rumors readers voted last month on All-NBA teams, and our squads looked awfully close to the official ones, with a couple notable exceptions. You can check out the results of our voting right here.

Hoops Links Vol. 5: Shirley Temple Lies, Milkshake Theft, More

Welcome to the fifth installment of Hoops Links, where we round up our favorite content from around the NBA blogosphere and shine a light on it here. Every week we set out to feature entertaining, original content powered by the blogging community.

See your own piece plugged? Well done! Now share the love by spreading the word about Hoops Links – we’re talking favs, retweets, postcards to mom and everything in between. Help us build a bigger stage for your best work!

If you want to hit us up with a link in the future, make sure to drop me a line on Twitter (@AustinKent) or even just email HoopsRumorsTips@Sports.ws. Remember, we want to be intrigued and captivated. It also helps if the content is relatively fresh (considering we publish on Thursdays).

Without further ado…


With a roster full of young players and a negligible chance of winning a meaningful amount of ball games, the Suns made the decision with months remaining in the season to tank unabashedly. After Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery, in which Phoenix dropped from a projected No. 2 seed to the No. 4 seed, Adam Maynes of Valley of the Suns wrote a spirited column suggesting that the organization got what it deserved.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Angry Earl Watsons
Author: Adam Maynes – @Adam4America
Link: Phoenix Suns tank fail


Joel Embiid verticalWe’re all happy to buy into the quirky Joel Embiid narrative whenever the goofy big man does something like sip a Shirley Temple on live television. But what if we’re living a lie? Kyle Neubeck of Liberty Ballers revealed that the pink beverage at Embiid’s side during the Draft Lottery was little more than a prop.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Red Pills
Author: Kyle Neubeck – @KyleNeubeck
Link: Joel Embiid’s Shirley Temple prop


Are the Bulls less likely to deal Jimmy Butler to the Celtics now that Boston has landed the No. 1 pick in the draft? Vijay Vemu of Blog A Bull suggests as much, writing that Danny Ainge took a risk holding onto the pick at the deadline rather than going the safe route and dealing for an established star.

Rating: 7 out of 10 Fortunate Gambles
Author: Vijay Vemu – @VJVemu
Link: Jimmy Butler to Celtics less likely


The Hawks could have done more to involve Dwight Howard in their offense, Da’Vonte Hughes of Soaring Down South writes, suggesting that the big man had reason to be upset with how he was utilized during his first season Atlanta.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Neglected Supermen
Author: Da’Vonte Hughes – @CookieByNature
Link: Dwight Howard non-option for Hawks


Did you forget that Joel Anthony was still in the NBA? You aren’t alone. Dan Devine of Ball Don’t Lie noticed the big man’s name trending on Twitter and discovered that people all around the world were shocked to see the veteran big man suit up in the Spurs‘ blowout loss Wednesday.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Two-Time NBA Champions
Author: Dan Devine – @YourManDevine
Link: Joel Anthony trends on Twitter


There are similarities between Jimmy Butler and Stanley Johnson, including underwhelming freshman and sophomore seasons, says Luke Wolthuis of Piston Powered. Could Johnson, a well-built two-way forward, make a leap similar to that of Butler’s in Year 3?

Rating: 7 out of 10 Better Late Than Nevers
Author: Luke Wolthuis – @WolthuisLuke
Link: Stanley Johnson, Jimmy Butler comparison


Harrison Barnes verticalAlthough he may not win the award, Harrison Barnes deserves a spot in the Most Improved Player conversation, Sam Guertler of Mavs Moneyball suggests. The forward’s offensive game improved dramatically in his first year as a targeted weapon in Dallas, without any compromise in efficiency.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Additional Better Late Than Nevers
Author: Sam Guertler – @SamGuertler
Link: Harrison Barnes Most Improved Player


It takes a delicate balance of usefulness and expendability for a player to suit up for three different franchises in one season. This year, Ersan Ilyasova dressed for the Thunder, Sixers, and Hawks, and still managed to set a new career high for points in a season. Miles Wray of The Step Back took a good long look at how the season stands up historically.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Bonus Points For Playing For Two Altogether Different Teams Last Year
Author: Miles Wray – @MilesWray
Link: NBA players who play for three teams in one season


It was hard to evaluate the first season in the NBA for Jakob Poeltl, a lottery pick on a reigning Eastern Conference Finals squad, but Brian Boake set out to do so anyway for Raptors Rapture. In Poeltl, the Raptors have a cheap, malleable option to audition as their Stretch 5 of the Future.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Teenage Mutant Ninjas
Author: Brian Boake – @NewmarketBrian
Link: Jakob Poeltl’s future with Raptors


Over the years, Gregg Popovich has simply owned Mike D’Antoni in the NBA playoffs, so much so that the J.R. Wilco over at Pounding the Rock had a particularly specific video commissioned just to drive home the point.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Academy Award-Winning Method Actors
Author: J.R. Wilco – @JRWilco
Link: Gregg Popovich, Mike D’Antoni History

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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