Steven Adams

FA/Trade Rumors: Ayton, Centers, Turner, Beal, Saric, Lakers

Echoing comments made last week by Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack article that Suns center Deandre Ayton – a restricted free agent this summer – may be the biggest name to change teams in the coming weeks.

Phoenix is “increasingly expected” to explore sign-and-trade scenarios involving Ayton, according to Stein, who says there’s plenty of skepticism around the NBA about the team’s desire to make a significant financial commitment to the young center.

Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report conveys a similar sentiment in his latest round-up of NBA rumors, suggesting there’s “considerable skepticism” that the Suns will re-sign Ayton. The Pistons, Spurs, Trail Blazers, Hawks, and Raptors have all been mentioned as possible suitors for the former No. 1 overall pick, Stein notes.

Here are a few more updates from Stein and Pincus on some of this year’s top free agents and trade candidates:

  • According to Pincus, some sources believe that the Spurs (Jakob Poeltl), Bulls (Nikola Vucevic), Hawks (Clint Capela/John Collins), and Pacers (Myles Turner) are among the teams that could be willing to move their current centers in a package for one of the offseason’s top available big men (Ayton, Rudy Gobert, etc.). Grizzlies center Steven Adams also may be a summer trade candidate, though he’s well-liked in the locker room, says Pincus.
  • While both Pincus and Stein have talked to sources who believe the Pacers are likely to keep Myles Turner, Stein notes that the situation could change if the big man wants to play out his expiring contract rather than agreeing to an extension, since Indiana may not want to risk losing him for nothing next year.
  • According to Stein, one or two teams hopeful of landing Bradley Beal believe the All-Star guard wants to be the Dirk Nowitzki of D.C., sticking with the Wizards for his entire career.
  • While Dario Saric‘s $9.24MM expiring contract makes him an obvious trade candidate, Pincus writes that the Suns are hopeful the forward can return to form after missing last season due to an ACL tear, and may not be looking to move him.
  • If the Lakers have any hope of trading Russell Westbrook without including a first-round pick, they’ll likely have to take on at least one or two players earning $15-25MM annually on multiyear deals, Pincus writes, citing veterans like Davis Bertans and Duncan Robinson as hypothetical examples. Rival executives and agents don’t expect the Lakers to get clarity from LeBron James on his long-term intentions before the draft or free agency, which will complicate L.A.’s decision-making process — the team would be more comfortable taking on pricey multiyear contracts with a guarantee that LeBron is sticking around long-term, Pincus observes.

Southwest Notes: Morant-Poole, Adams, Pelicans, Doncic

When Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks committed a hard foul on Warriors guard Gary Payton II, in an eventual 106-101 Game 2 Memphis win, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr had harsh words for the play. “There’s a code that players follow,” Kerr said at the time. “Dillion Brooks broke the code.” Payton fractured his elbow and is set to miss three-to-five weeks of postseason play with the injury. Brooks was subsequently suspended for one game.

Now that the shoe is potentially on the other foot, Alex Kennedy of Basketball News wonders if the code was broken once again in Game 3, a 142-112 Warriors win. Warriors guard Jordan Poole grabbed Grizzlies All-Star point guard Ja Morant‘s right knee on a play, and Morant subsequently left the contest with an apparent injury. Morant initially tweeted a video of the Poole foul, while quoting Kerr’s “broke the code” comment. Morant has since wiped that post.

“I don’t have a take,” Kerr said of the interaction, per Mark Medina of NBA.com (via Twitter). “There’s nothing to comment on.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies center Steven Adams deserves to return to the Memphis starting lineup, opines Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Though the more athletic and switchable Xavier Tillman has supplanted Adams at center for the Grizzlies’ last six contests, Cole believes the rebounding of Adams will be key for Memphis against the smaller Warriors. The burly big man is also excellent at the kinds of little plays that may not show up in box scores, such as devastating screen-setting.
  • The Pelicans have a variety of intriguing roster-building decisions to make during their offseason. Will Guillory of The Athletic discusses a handful of issues for New Orleans this summer, including potential extensions for new additions CJ McCollum and Larry Nance Jr., the team’s future at point guard, the fate of Jaxson Hayes, and more. The first part of Guillory’s series on the Pelicans’ offseason was previously linked here.
  • Mavericks All-Star guard Luka Doncic has flexed plenty of playoff muscle this postseason, leading Dallas to its first second-round appearance in 11 years. Cydney Henderson of USA Today writes that Doncic proved his mettle in his winning both a EuroLeague title and EuroLeague MVP in 2018, prior to arriving stateside in the NBA draft. He has been training his whole life for this moment. Henderson notes that Doncic has been playing basketball since he was seven months old. His father Sasa Doncic was a pro in various European leagues. “I played basketball because (my dad) played basketball,” Doncic said. “I was always with him on the court. Always at the games just shooting basketballs.”

Steven Adams Clears Protocols, Active For Game 3

MAY 6: Adams will be available for Game 3, per Cole (Twittter link). Memphis isn’t sure if he’ll start or come off the bench, but he has made enough progress to play.


MAY 5: Grizzlies center Steven Adams has cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols and practiced with the team on Thursday, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Adams has missed the team’s last three playoff games after entering the protocols last week. After leading the league in offensive and total rebounds, the Grizzlies have been outdueled in both of those categories in the first two games of their second-round matchup with the Warriors.

Adams’ possible return for Saturday’s Game 3 would provide a major boost, as he led the NBA in offensive rebounds and offensive rebounding percentage this season and was the team’s top rebounder overall.

We’ll get him another intense vitamin tomorrow, put him through practice, see where he’s at, and then we’ll kind of make a decision from there,” head coach Taylor Jenkins said.

In 76 regular season games in 2021/22, Adams averaged 6.9 points, 10.0 rebounds (4.6 offensive) and 3.4 assists in 26.3 minutes per contest. The rebounds and assists were both career highs.

Due to a poor matchup with Karl-Anthony Towns, Adams dropped out of the rotation during the opening playoff round. After playing 24 minutes in Game 1, Adams logged fewer than seven minutes of action for the rest of the series prior to entering the COVID-19 protocols.

Western Notes: Adams, Bane, Gobert, Bullock, Green, Clarke

A day before Game 2 of his team’s second-round series against the Warriors, Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said that center Steven Adams remains in the league’s health and safety protocols, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets. Adams, who was placed in the protocols on Thursday, is listed as out for Tuesday’s game, the team’s PR department tweets. Starting guard Desmond Bane is listed as questionable due to lower back soreness. Bane was limited to nine points in 32 minutes in Game 1 on Sunday.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Rudy Gobert and his agent are still awaiting their annual exit meeting with the Jazz, Tony Jones of The Athletic tweets. That meeting will likely determine how the two sides proceed going forward into the offseason, Jones adds. Utah is expected to shake things up after another early playoff exit. Gobert has four years remaining on his five-year, $205MM contract.
  • Reggie Bullock‘s defensive importance was so profound against the Jazz that the Mavericks played him 254 of a possible 288 minutes in the series. Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes an in-depth piece on Bullock and how personal tragedies have shaped his career. Bullock is in the first year of a three-year deal, though the final season isn’t fully guaranteed.
  • The NBA upheld Draymond Green‘s Flagrant Foul 2 ruling in Game 1 of the Warriors’ series against the Grizzlies. The player who was fouled, Brandon Clarke, wasn’t surprised that Green committed such an infraction (ESPN video link). “He’s been known for flagrant fouls in his career. I’ve watched him on TV my whole life, it feels like, so I wasn’t really shocked,” Clarke said.

Grizzlies Center Steven Adams Enters Protocols

Steven Adams will miss Game 6 of the Grizzlies‘ first-round series against the Timberwolves after entering the league’s health and safety protocols, the team’s PR department tweets.

Adams started 75 games for the team with the Western Conference’s second-best record during the regular season. Due to matchups, Adams has dropped out of the rotation during the opening playoff round. After playing 24 minutes in Game 1, Adams has only seen seven minutes of action.

Forward Ziaire Williams is listed as doubtful with right knee soreness. Williams has appeared in all five games during the series, averaging 5.6 PPG in 11 MPG.

Grizzlies Notes: Morant, Jones, Jenkins, Adams

Grizzlies star Ja Morant suffered a left thigh injury in the Game 2 victory over Minnesota on Tuesday, according to Nick Gray of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Morant was hit by a hip-check screen from Karl-Anthony Towns in the third quarter and went down in pain, but was able to return to action in the fourth quarter with his leg wrapped, Gray notes.

Morant finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists on 9-of-16 shooting in 30 minutes of action, recording a +24 plus/minus, tied for the highest in the game. It’s unclear if the injury will impact Morant’s availability or performance going forward, but it’s definitely worth monitoring. Memphis evened the series at one game apiece with the 124-96 win.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Backup point guard Tyus Jones has been a nice fit for Memphis, Chris Hine of The Star Tribune  writes, as the Minnesota native returns home to face his former team. “He’s just a great connector out there. I love the spirit, leadership he plays with, the way he moves the ball,” head coach Taylor Jenkins said. “He’s improved defensively from the first two years we’ve been here. He’s taken ownership there. I love how he’s shooting the ball as well. Obviously when he’s played a bigger role, he’s filled those shoes brilliantly. He plays so well, plays great team basketball.” Jones averaged a career-high 8.7 PPG and shot a career-best 39% from three this season in addition to leading the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio for the fourth consecutive year. The 25-year-old is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
  • Jenkins’ “gut call” to pull Steven Adams in favor of a smaller lineup paid off in Game 2, per Fred Katz of The Athletic. Adams played just under three minutes prior to picking up a couple of early fouls and sat out the remainder of the game. Xavier Tillman Sr. provided an energetic lift off the bench, scoring 13 points and grabbing seven rebounds in 21 minutes after not playing at all in Game 1. Tillman has been out of the team’s rotation for parts of 2021/22, appearing in 53 games with an average of just 13.2 minutes per contest during the regular season.
  • Morant’s adjustments to better control the flow of the action also proved crucial to the victory, Katz relays in the same article. Morant was especially lethal in the third quarter when the Grizzlies went on a big run, scoring 12 points and handing out three assists. “I felt like I balanced very well looking for my shot and also making the extra pass,” Morant said. “It got us some open looks, and the lead went up from there.”

COVID-19 Updates: Whiteside, Adams, Barton, Hornets, Spurs, More

Jazz center Hassan Whiteside has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (via Twitter). Utah’s frontcourt depth is extremely depleted; in addition to Whiteside, Rudy Gobert, Rudy Gay, and Udoka Azubuike are all in the protocols, while 10-day hardship signee Norvel Pelle is out Wednesday against Cleveland with a non-COVID illness, Walden tweets. Whiteside is now the sixth Jazz player currently in the protocols.

Here are more COVID-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Grizzlies center Steven Adams is listed as questionable with a non-COVID illness for Thursday’s contest against Minnesota, Memphis’ PR department tweets, so he has cleared the protocols.
  • The Nuggets received two pieces of good news, as Will Barton has exited the COVID-19 protocols and Markus Howard, who was supposed to be sidelined at least six weeks with a sprained knee, is listed as questionable for Thursday’s contest against Portland, per Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link). Howard has missed the past four weeks.
  • The news out of Charlotte is a mixed bag, as Vernon Carey Jr. has cleared the protocols, but rookie big man Kai Jones has entered for the Hornets, per the team’s PR department (Twitter links).
  • Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell have cleared the protocols for the Spurs and are available Wednesday night against Houston, Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News tweets.
  • Bucks guard Grayson Allen said he was fortunate to have an asymptomatic case of COVID-19 and will be available Thursday against the Warriors, according to Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). Allen also mentioned that the time away helped him recover from the flu.
  • Rockets guard Armoni Brooks has cleared the health and safety protocols and is available Wednesday against the Spurs, tweets Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

Western Notes: Adams, Zubac, LeBron, House, Nowell

Grizzlies starting center Steven Adams has entered the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols, the team’s PR tweets. Adams had been the only member of the team to play in every game this season, per Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian (Twitter link).

In other COVID-19 news, Clippers center Ivica Zubac has cleared the protocols and is listed as questionable (reconditioning) for Saturday’s game against Memphis, per the Clippers’ PR department (via Twitter).

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • The Lakers have found success with LeBron James at center lineups, and Nekias Duncan of BasketballNews relays that it’s the next evolution of James’ lengthy career. Duncan writes that in 345 minutes with James as the lone big man, his per-36 averages are 32.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 6.5 assists (2.0 turnovers), 1.8 steals, and 1.5 blocks with a 61/41/83 shooting line. More importantly, L.A. has outscored opponents by 7.2 points per 100 possessions during those minutes.
  • Since the Jazz were only carrying 13 players on standard contracts, there was some uncertainty about whether Danuel House had received a traditional or hardship exception 10-day deal, but Keith Smith of Spotrac tweets that it used a hardship exception. House’s contract won’t count against the salary cap or luxury tax, but it’s still an opportunity for him to potentially earn a roster spot with Utah, as the team is only carrying 14 players on standard deals. He had 13 points, four rebounds, and four assists in 26 minutes in his debut Friday, a 122-108 loss to Toronto.
  • With the Timberwolves shorthanded due to COVID-19 absences, Jaylen Nowell stepped up and earned his guaranteed contract, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Hine notes that Nowell was averaging 13.9 points over his last 10 games entering Friday, while shooting 50% from the field and 36% on three-pointers. Nowell concedes he may not be the most explosive player, but he’s still finding ways to be effective. “I watch a lot of older players and how they maneuver and got to the rim,” Nowell said. “I’m not the most explosive guy. I have a little bit of explosiveness, so I can use that to my advantage. … I’ve got to find certain ways to get to the spots I want.”

Grizzlies Notes: Bane, Offseason, Adams, Celtics Trade

Grizzlies sharpshooter Desmond Bane officially has new representation. After leaving Seth Cohen of SAC Sports Family earlier this offseason, Bane has signed with agent Jim Tanner of Tandem Sports + Entertainment/YouFirst, according to the agency’s Instagram.

Bane’s new agent won’t have to negotiate a second contract for him for a while yet. Having just been drafted in 2020, Bane is entering the second season of his four-year rookie contract, and won’t be eligible for a rookie scale extension until the 2023 offseason. If he doesn’t sign a new deal that year, he’d reach restricted free agency in 2024.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • In his look back at the Grizzlies’ offseason, Zach Harper of The Athletic assigns the team a grade of B-minus. Harper acknowledges that the team didn’t really upgrade its roster, but notes that Memphis’ young players have room to continue improving, and the club is well-positioned to keep building for the future.
  • Within Harper’s recap, John Hollinger of The Athletic says Steven Adams won’t have a bigger overall impact than Jonas Valanciunas, but suggests the team is hoping Adams can improve the team’s pick-and-roll defense. While Adams isn’t super-versatile, he’s a bit more capable of switching than Valanciunas and may be better suited to stay on the floor in fourth quarters, in Hollinger’s view.
  • Memphis’ trade agreement that will send Juan Hernangomez to Boston in exchange for Kris Dunn, Carsen Edwards, and a second-round pick swap should be completed this week. Dunn’s aggregation restriction will lift on Wednesday, at which point the Grizzlies and Celtics will be free to move forward with their deal.
  • The Grizzlies are in position to end up with three first-round picks in the 2022 draft, as we detailed earlier today.

Pelicans Officially Acquire Valanciunas, Graham In Three-Team Trade

The Pelicans have officially announced a pair of previouslyreported trades, having combined their acquisitions of center Jonas Valanciunas and point guard Devonte’ Graham into a single transaction involving both the Grizzlies and Hornets. Memphis and Charlotte have put out press releases as well.

The details of the three-team deal are as follows:

  • To Pelicans:
    • Valanciunas (from Grizzlies)
    • Graham (sign-and-trade; from Hornets)
    • The draft rights to Trey Murphy (No. 17 pick; from Grizzlies)
    • The draft rights to Brandon Boston (No. 51 pick; from Grizzlies)
      • Note: Boston will be rerouted to the Clippers in a subsequent trade.
  • To Grizzlies:
    • Eric Bledsoe (from Pelicans)
    • Steven Adams (from Pelicans)
    • The draft rights to Ziaire Williams (No. 10 pick; from Pelicans)
    • The draft rights to Jared Butler (No. 40 pick; from Pelicans)
      • Note: Butler will be rerouted to the Jazz in a subsequent trade.
    • The Lakers’ 2022 first-round pick (top-10 protected; from Pelicans)
  • To Hornets:
    • Wesley Iwundu (from Pelicans)
    • The Pelicans’ 2022 first-round pick (top-14 protected; from Pelicans)
      • Note: If the Pelicans’ 2022 first-rounder falls in the top 14, the Hornets will instead receive New Orleans’ 2022 and 2024 second-round picks, per Rod Boone of SI.com.
    • Cash (from Pelicans)
    • The draft rights to Tyler Harvey (from Grizzlies)

The details of the three-team trade essentially line up with what was previously reported, with two new pieces added — Iwundu going from New Orleans to Charlotte and Harvey’s draft rights going from Memphis to Charlotte. Harvey was presumably only included to ensure that the Grizzlies and Hornets were “touching,” since otherwise Memphis would only have been exchanging assets with the Pelicans.

Looping their sign-and-trade acquisition of Graham into the trade suggests the Pelicans will operate over the cap, using Bledsoe’s and Adams’ outgoing salaries in order to match both Valanciunas and Graham instead of signing Graham into cap space.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), it also allows New Orleans to generate a $17MM+ trade exception in the deal. Only Bledsoe’s and Iwundu’s outgoing salaries are needed for matching purposes to take on Valanciunas and Graham, meaning the Pelicans’ new TPE is worth Adams’ salary ($17,073,171).

Graham reportedly signed a four-year, $47MM contract with the Pelicans as part of the trade. He and Tomas Satoransky appear set to play the majority of the minutes at point guard in New Orleans, barring further roster changes. The team is sending Lonzo Ball to Chicago in a separate sign-and-trade deal.

Graham made just 37.7% of his field goal attempts in 2020/21, but his three-point mark was a very respectable 37.5%. In addition to his ability to make threes, Graham is an above-average play-maker (6.5 APG over the last two seasons) and a respectable defender.

Swapping out Adams for Valanciunas should allow the Pelicans to improve their frontcourt spacing. Valanciunas isn’t exactly a long-distance marksman, but has a solid mid-range game and will shoot the occasional three-pointer, which should create more room for Zion Williamson to operate. The former No. 5 overall pick averaged an impressive 17.1 PPG and 12.5 RPG with a .592/.368/.773 shooting line in 62 games (28.3 MPG) this past season.

From the Grizzlies’ perspective, the deal was a way to improve their draft assets in both 2021 and 2022 as a result of their willingness to take on Adams’ and Bledsoe’s pricey contracts. The team moved up from No. 17 to No. 10 to snag Williams, and later flipped the No. 40 pick (Butler) to Utah in a separate trade to move up to No. 30 for Santi Aldama.

[RELATED: 2021 NBA Offseason Trades]

The Hornets, meanwhile, decided to move on from Graham and got a protected first-round pick from New Orleans in exchange for waiving their right to match an offer sheet for the restricted free agent. Iwundu’s guaranteed $1.82MM salary for 2021/22 will eat up a small amount of Charlotte’s cap room, but the team will still have enough flexibility to complete its signing of Kelly Oubre to a two-year deal in the range of $12-13MM per year.