Shabazz Muhammad

Western Notes: Jackson, Harden, Muhammad, Wolves, Clippers Arena

Rumors of the Suns trading promising rookie Josh Jackson for Kyrie Irving should be put to rest, writes Greg Moore of AZCentral.com. Moore writes that Jackson and Devin Booker each create a sense of “awe and wonder,” making anyone who watches them dream of the future.

The Arizona-based scribe argues that the manner in which coach Earl Watson talks about Jackson comes off much more as genuine optimism for the future than big talk to boost trade value.

“I love Josh Jackson,” Watson said Monday. “Something about him is just uncommon.” Devin Booker, meanwhile, “always had that edge.” “(Those) two together are going to be great young guys who can push other guys to become better because they’re so inner competitive,” Watson said.

Watson joked in response to being asked about a rumor that Jackson had grown two inches since being drafted:  But “if he did, we love it, and even if he didn’t … let’s build the legend. Yeah, he grew. Absolutely. He’s like 7 feet now … anyone coming up against him should be intimidated by his constant growth vertically, in height, and ability to play above the rim.”

In a recent interview, Jackson addressed the trade talk, saying, “I think if that was going to happen, it would have happened by now.” However, he also said: “I’m going to make the best of whatever situation that I’m presented with. If I’m traded to China, whatever, I’m going to come out, and I’m going to be happy and just try to make the best of it.”

Here are more notes from the Western Conference:

  • James Harden is more fit and fired up than ever, writes Sam Amick of USA Today.  “I know how exciting this season is (going to be, and) I know how important it is, so I’m going to take full advantage of it. I have a lot of charity (events), a lot of things going on, but when I’m in that gym that’s kind of my getaway. That’s kind of when I’m locked in,” Harden said. The Rockets‘ 2017 postseason ended with concerns over Harden’s fatigue and stamina.
  • Shabazz Muhammad may have to settle for a short-term “prove-it” deal for next season, writes Michael Rand of The Star Tribune. Heading into the offseason, coach Tom Thibodeau used the word “optimistic” when discussing re-signing Muhammad. However, in July, the wing’s rights were renounced. On Wednesday, Timberwolves signee Jamal Crawford tweeted Muhammad, “c’mon back home.”
  • The mayor of Inglewood and the four other council members unanimously approved a revised agreement with a Clippers-controlled company to shrink the four-block area where an arena could be built so homes and a church aren’t displaced, reports Nathan Fenno of The Los Angeles Times. More than a dozen citizens had raised concerns about the potential arena before the vote took place.

And-Ones: Muhammad, Franchise Players, Sims

Free agent forward Shabazz Muhammad remains one of the most noteworthy names on the open market, and with still no deal in hand, the four-year veteran is looking to change agents, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link). If that sounds familiar, it’s because Muhammad just hired a new agent in the spring — the former Rob Pelinka client made the move to Rich Paul after Pelinka landed with the Lakers as their new GM.

As Wolfson adds in a separate tweet, at least six teams have checked in on Muhammad, but the former first-round pick entered free agency hoping to get a mid-level type deal, perhaps similar to what Patrick Patterson received from the Thunder (three years, $16MM+). At this point in the offseason, Muhammad will be hard-pressed to find more than a minimum salary deal, which explains why he’s not necessarily thrilled with Paul’s work.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the league:

Wolves Interested In Shabazz Muhammad Reunion

The Wolves renounced the rights to Shabazz Muhammad earlier this summer, something that allowed the UCLA product to become an unrestricted free agent. He hasn’t yet found a home and with the market settling, Minnesota would like to bring him back, according to Darren Wolfson of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

The team only has the ability to offer him a minimum salary slot after making several additions this offseason. Minnesota exhausted its cap space by signing Taj Gibson and Jeff Teague and it used its mid-level exception to ink Jamal Crawford. Taking a minimum salary agreement would be disappointing for the young swingman, as he was certainly expecting better offers. He’s one of the best remaining wings remaining on the market, as I recently outlined.

Muhammad drew interest from several teams toward the beginning of free agency. The Hawks, Nets, Bucks, and Knicks all eyed the 24-year-old in July, though it’s unclear if any of those teams still have an interest in him now.

Five Notable Wings Still Available In Free Agency

While the Grit and Grind Era will always represent a special time in Memphis, the Grizzlies have moved on and Tony Allen appears to be a casualty of the transition. Fellow grinder Zach Randolph was able to secure a two-year, $24MM with the Kings, but Allen hasn’t been able to land a lucrative deal of his own.

Early in free agency, the Clippers were reportedly interested in working out a sign-and-trade deal for Allen, but after making several additions, Los Angeles isn’t in a position to offer much more than a minimum salary arrangement. The Wolves also had interested in the swingman, as Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com reported several weeks ago, though we haven’t heard much on Allen joining either of those clubs since.

Allen previously indicated that he wasn’t looking to break the bank in free agency. He also said he’ll be a Memphian for life. It’s possible he returns to the Grizzlies on a minimum salary deal, something they may have planned for him. However, it remains to be seen whether taking a hometown discount and taking the minimum are the same in Allen’s eyes.

At age 35, Allen isn’t going to learn how to shoot at a league-average level, something that becomes more of an issue during the NBA’s second season. He remains one of the better perimeter defenders in the league and he was a useful rotation player last season.

The Grizzlies could use a swingman to help solidify their rotation; so could the Wolves, Clippers, Mavericks, and Pacers. Allen should be able to help out a team in need of wing depth, though he’s not the only option on the market. Here are some other notable options available:

  • Anthony Morrow— Shooting is as important as its ever been in the NBA, which bodes well for Morrow should he find his three-point shot again. He’s a career 41.7% shooter from behind the arc, but he shot under 31% last season. Morrow, who turns 32 in September, will likely see another opportunity in the league. However, his flaws on the defensive end may force him to wait until closer to training camp to find a home.
  • Gerald Green — Green saw some minutes for the Celtics on the backend of their rotation last season before seeing a slightly larger role in the postseason. It’s plausible to think that his work in the NBA’s second season would boost his stock, but we haven’t heard much about him garnering much interest on the market. The 31-year-old has enough left in the tank to help a team in need of wing depth, though he’s another athlete who will likely have to play the waiting game.
  • Brandon Rush — Several teams have reportedly checked in with Rush, including the Mavericks, Heat, and Pacers. Dallas makes the most sense for the 32-year-old, as I recently detailed.
  • Shabazz Muhammad — Muhammad may be the most talented wing left on the free agent market. The Wolves pulled his qualifying offer earlier in the month, which rendered him to unrestricted free agency and the Hawks, Nets, Bucks, Knicks, Bulls, and Magic all were reportedly interested in the swingman. Yet, the UCLA product remains unsigned. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of deal and what kind of role Muhammad lands. It’ll also be interesting to see if the 24-year-old can expand his game beyond scoring, as he took 598 shots last season but dished out just 35 assists.

Atlantic Notes: Anthony, Nets, Raptors

The Knicks have, at least for now, pulled Carmelo Anthony from the trading block and are not actively shopping their All-Star scorer. If the Knicks really wanted to trade Anthony, the team could have sent him to the Rockets if taking Ryan Anderson‘s contract in return was not a hurdle. As Frank Isola of the New York Daily News writes, dealing Anthony for a player who does less on the court and guaranteed more money the next three years is not a wise move.

Anthony, 33, has two years, $54MM left on his deal whereas Anderson, 29, has three years, $61MM left. Reports have suggested the Knicks are seeking a third, possibly fourth, team to complete a deal. After naming Steve Mills president and acquiring Scott Perry from the Kings to be the team’s new general manager, it’s clear that New York is going in a new direction. Owner James Dolan said as much in a statement regarding the team’s new hire.

“Today marks a culture change for our organization where we reestablish the pride, work ethic and responsibility that comes with playing for the Knicks and representing New York,” Dolan said (via ESPN). “I’m confident that Steve is the right person to take on this role, and ensure that we return to one of the elite teams of the NBA. He’s got an ambitious plan that centers on building a young team focused on player development, communication and teamwork.”

The Knicks still have an abundance of options with Anthony: They can hold onto Anthony and hope he plays well and trade him midseason if the team is out of contention; keep pursuing trades until the team finds a good fit; and, less ideally, buyout Anthony for cap relief. It’s a complicated situation for all and Anthony, with his no-trade clause and trade kicker, has all the power.

Here are additional notes around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets have 10 guards in their organization and acquiring additional size this offseason remains a priority, per Fred Kerber of the New York Post. Kerber mentions Shabazz Muhammad and JaMychal Green as possible targets for Brooklyn as the team continues its search for upgrades in the frontcourt.
  • One of the newest Nets, DeMarre Carroll, tells Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun that he expected a trade this offseason. In the candid interview, Caroll discussed why he did not fit into the Raptors’ offense the way he imagined and why it became frustrating playing for the team.

FA Rumors: Muhammad, Farmar, Mbah a Moute, Allen

The Hawks, Nets, Bucks, Knicks and Magic have all expressed interest in swingman Shabazz Muhammad, according to Marc J. Spears of ESPN.com (Twitter links). The Bulls are on that list as well, tweets Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype. Muhammad became an unrestricted free agent last week when Minnesota pulled his qualifying offer to create enough cap room to sign Taj Gibson. He has been with the Wolves for all four of his NBA seasons and averaged 9.9 points in 78 games last year.

There’s more tonight on the free agent front:

  • Jordan Farmar is hoping to return to the NBA and spoke to Lakers coach Luke Walton today about a possible opportunity, Kennedy relays (Twitter link). The 30-year-old point guard played two games for the Kings in November of last season.
  • The Raptors have talked about making a play for former Clippers forward Luc Mbah a Moute, reports Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet (Twitter link).
  • The Clippers and Timberwolves are both considering Tony Allen, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Coaches Doc Rivers in L.A. and Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota have connections with Allen from their time with the Celtics.
  • Veteran point guard Beno Udrih is talking to several teams in Las Vegas, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Now 35, Udrih believes he can play for several more years. He got into 39 games with the Pistons last season.
  • Former Baylor standout Royce O’Neale is considering several NBA offers, according to Kyler (Twitter link). The 24-year-old forward went undrafted in 2015 and has been playing in Lithuania, but he has an NBA opt-out in his contract through July 20th.

Timberwolves Sign Taj Gibson

"<strongJULY 10: The Timberwolves have officially signed Gibson, the team confirmed today.

JULY 2: The Timberwolves have agreed to sign free agent power forward Taj Gibson, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical (via Twitter). According to Charania, Gibson will receive $28MM on a two-year deal from Minnesota.

The pact doesn’t include an option (player or team) for the second year, per Sam Amick of USA Today (on Twitter). News of the agreement comes on the heels of a report from Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link) that the Wolves’ interest in Gibson had “increased.”

[RELATED: 2017 NBA Free Agent Tracker]

By agreeing to join the Wolves, Gibson will reunite with Tom Thibodeau, who coached the forward in Chicago. He’ll also be joining former Bulls teammate Jimmy Butler, who was acquired by Minnesota in a blockbuster trade. The market for Gibson’s services was relatively quiet, with the only other team reportedly interested in him being the Kings.

Inking Gibson will wipe out most, if not all, of Minnesota’s remaining cap room. The Wolves are still armed with their Room Exception, valued at about $4.33MM, which can be used to further bolster their ever-improving roster. However, adding Gibson almost certainly eliminates the Wolves from the Paul Millsap sweepstakes, which may make the Nuggets the frontrunner to land the versatile forward.

The Timberwolves will likely have to renounce their qualifying offer for Shabazz Muhammad in order to sign Gibson, which would make the swingman an unrestricted free agent. Muhammad could – in theory – still return to Minnesota, but the Wolves would no longer have matching rights, allowing him to sign outright with another club.

Gibson, 32, split his time between the Bulls and Thunder last season. He appeared in a total of 78 contests, averaging 10.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 0.9 assists. He shot .515/.231/.715 from the field.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Wolves Pull Muhammad’s Qualifying Offer

As had been anticipated, the Timberwolves officially pulled the qualifying offer they sent to Shabazz Muhammad, Chris Haynes of ESPN tweets. Now the swingman will hit the market as an unrestricted free agent.

Earlier today we wrote about how the Taj Gibson signing has impacted the situation in Minnesota. As a result, Muhammad’s representation didn’t waste any time informing other teams of his client’s anticipated status change.

Muhammad has seen his role decrease slightly over the course of the last two seasons and that would have inevitably continued in 2017/18 with Jimmy Butler now on board.

Still just 24-year-old, Muhammad should have no trouble finding suitors after nearly posting a third-consecutive season with double-digit points per game. Per 36 minutes, he averaged 18.3 points and 5.2 rebounds.

Western FA Notes: Muhammad, Holiday, Young

A theme is developing in Minnesota as head coach Tom Thibodeau slowly molds the young Timberwolves into a modern day version of his old team. Consider Justin Holiday the latest former Bulls rotation piece that the T-Wolves have expressed an interest in, Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders writes.

Holiday would join Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson with the Wolves, should the organization seek to sign the 28-year-old 3-and-D specialist.

The Bulls and Knicks, the team with whom Holiday averaged 7.7 points per game for in 2016/17, are both said to be interested in retaining the swingman’s services.

There’s more today as free agency rolls along:

  • The Timberwolves will likely have to renounce Shabazz Muhammad in the wake of today’s two-year, $28MM agreement with Taj Gibson, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. He adds that Muhammad’s representatives have been notifying teams that he is now an unrestricted free agent (Twitter link).
  • Nick Young has emerged as a candidate for the Warriors‘ $5.2MM exception, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Pelicans can offer more playing time and a larger role in the offense, notes David Aldridge of TNT (Twitter link), but Young may opt for the chance for a ring.
  • Gordon Hayward will meet with Jazz officials in San Diego, not Utah, on Monday, tweets Jody Genessy of The Deseret News. Coach Quin Snyder, GM Dennis Lindsey and team president Steve Starks will be among Utah’s delegation.
  • The Rockets‘ interest in Cleveland’s Iman Shumpert is “basically dead,” according to Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). The teams had trade discussions regarding Shumpert on Saturday before Houston signed Tucker.

Alex Len, Alan Williams, Shabazz Muhammad Receive Qualifying Offers

Three more players are now officially on track to become restricted free agents on the weekend, per RealGM’s transactions log. The Suns have tendered qualifying offers to Alex Len and Alan Williams, while Shabazz Muhammad has received a QO from the Timberwolves.

Extending qualifying offers to potential restricted free agents is a housekeeping move to ensure that teams retain the right of first refusal on their respective free agents. However, QOs also represent one-year contract offers, so Len, Williams, or Muhammad could opt to accept their offers and sign a one-year deal once the new league year begins.

Len, 24, was the fifth overall pick in the 2013 draft, but hasn’t developed into a true impact player for the Suns. In 77 games (34 starts) last season, the 7’1″ center averaged 8.0 PPG and 6.6 RPG in 20.3 minutes per contest. Williams, an undrafted free agent big man, played a similar role in Phoenix, averaging 7.4 PPG and 6.2 RPG in 15.1 MPG (47 games).

As for Muhammad, the 24-year-old continued to play part-time minutes on the wing for the Wolves, having averaged 9.9 PPG, 2.8 RPG, and a .338 3PT% in 78 games last season.

Len and Muhammad, having failed to meet the starter criteria for RFAs, will receive qualifying offers worth $4,187,598. Williams’ QO will be worth a more modest $1,671,382.

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