Steven Adams

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.

More On Grizzlies/Pelicans Trade

The Grizzlies and Pelicans made a significant splash today, agreeing to the first trade of NBA draft week. As we previously relayed, Memphis will ship center Jonas Valanciunas and the Nos. 17 and 51 selections in the 2021 draft to New Orleans for center Steven Adams, guard Eric Bledsoe, the Nos. 10 and 40 picks, plus the Lakers’ top-10 protected 2022 first-round pick.

The top-10 protected 2022 Lakers pick will become two second-rounders if it doesn’t convey in next year’s draft, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. The protection was previously reported, but the two second-rounders element was not.

It appears that the Grizzlies may not be done dealing, as they look to continue to build their roster around promising point guard Ja Morant and intriguing big man Jaren Jackson Jr. Morant led the Grizzlies to their first playoff appearance since the 2016/17 season this year. Memphis fell 4-1 in the first round to the Jazz.

According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (Twitter link), the Grizzlies may be looking to move up even higher in the lottery ahead of Thursday’s draft. Memphis could be trying to add NBA G League Ignite forward Jonathan Kuminga or Connecticut guard James Bouknight, per O’Connor.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN adds (via Twitter) that the Grizzlies also auditioned Arkansas guard Moses Moody during a private Los Angeles work out last week, apparently expecting to move into the lottery even at the time. Givony adds (Twitter link) that Michigan forward Franz Wagner, projected to be selected as high as the No. 7 pick, could be a potential Grizzlies target. Adelaide point guard Josh Giddey is another apparent prospect for Memphis, as previously noted.

New Grizzlies guard Bledsoe, who had a down season during his lone year with the Pelicans, is not anticipated to remain in Memphis next season, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

It is not at present clear if Bledsoe, a two-time All-Defensive Team selection, will be traded or will be waived (and possibly stretched). The Grizzlies would most likely need to attach assets in any trade of Bledsoe.

Luke Adams contributed to this report.

Grizzlies, Pelicans Finalizing Deal To Swap Valanciunas, Adams, Bledsoe, Picks

The Grizzlies and Pelicans are finalizing a trade that will involve several players and draft picks, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

As Wojnarowski reports, the deal will send Jonas Valanciunas and the Nos. 17 and 51 picks to New Orleans in exchange for Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, the Nos. 10 and 40 picks, and the Lakers’ 2022 first-round pick. The Pelicans will add top-10 protection to that ’22 first-rounder, per Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report (Twitter link).

The trade, our second of the offseason and the first of draft week, is a fascinating move for two Southwest teams looking to make the playoffs in 2022.

The Pelicans had been considered highly likely to trade at least one of Adams or Bledsoe, both of whom are on pricey contracts and weren’t viewed as part of the team’s long-term future. Rather than just moving one of the two, they’ll send both to Memphis, creating significant cap flexibility for this year’s free agent period.

Bledsoe ($18.13MM) and Adams ($17.07MM) will earn a combined $35MM+ in 2021/22, while Valanciunas is on the books for just $14MM. Valanciunas is also entering a contract year, whereas Adams has one more guaranteed season left in ’22/23 and Bledsoe has a partial guarantee, so the Pelicans won’t just be opening up cap room this summer — they’ll create future flexibility as well.

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.

Moving Bledsoe’s contract also puts the Pelicans in position to either bring back restricted free agent Lonzo Ball or pursue another point guard in free agency. As Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets, New Orleans could create up to about $36MM in cap space by letting Ball and Josh Hart walk, or approximately $25MM in space by retaining Hart’s cap hold and letting go of Ball. Kyle Lowry is rumored to be among the Pelicans’ potential free agent targets.

As for the Grizzlies, they’ll presumably decline Justise Winslow‘s $13MM team option in order to create the cap room necessary to take on Adams and Bledsoe once the new league year begins in August, Marks notes (via Twitter).

While Adams and Bledsoe didn’t have great seasons in New Orleans, they’ve both been productive in the past and are bounce-back candidates in Memphis if the fit is better. Adams posted 7.6 PPG and 8.9 RPG in 58 games (27.7 MPG) in 2020/21, while Bledsoe put up 12.2 PPG, 3.8 APG, and 3.4 RPG on .421/.341/.687 shooting in 71 games (29.7 MPG).

The Grizzlies also significantly improve their draft assets in the swap, moving up seven spots in the first round and 11 spots in the second while also adding an extra first-round pick for next year. They’re now in position to have three first-rounders in next year’s draft, since they also hold Utah’s top-six protected first-rounder.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN and Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report (Twitter links) have both heard that Australian guard Josh Giddey is the player the Grizzlies are targeting with the No. 10 pick.

Southwest Notes: Kidd, Pelicans Draft Choices, Pelicans Roundup

New Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd joined ESPN’s The Jump on Wednesday to discuss his time with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, as well as what’s in store for his relationship with Luka Doncic in Dallas.

Asked about what he was focused on helping Doncic improve on, Kidd replied, “My job is to help make the game easier for him. Understanding the game within the game. Understanding how to get guys going, becoming a better leader.”

Kidd was also asked about Kristaps Porzingis. “Getting KP back to what he did in New York,” Kidd said. “Putting the ball on the floor, one dribble stop-and-pop… I remember a lotta highlights when he was putting the ball on someone’s head. So getting him back to that era in his basketball when he was having fun.”

We have more from around the Southwest Division:

  • In part one of his offseason mailbag, The Athletic’s Will Guillory explored some of the big questions of the Pelicans’ offseason. One such question regarded whether the disappointing seasons of Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams were more about personal decline or bad fit with the team’s stars. Guillory maintained that Adams, who had trouble fitting in, has been serious about adding a three-point shot to extend his career, and that he’s been “shooting the snot out of the ball,” according to a source. But he also warns that Bledsoe could face boos at home if he’s still on the roster next season.
  • Guillory also confirms that many believe Jacque Vaughn was the favorite for the Pelicans’ head coaching position before withdrawing, but that Willie Green won many in the front office over immediately upon his first meeting with them.
  • In a piece for NOLA.com, Pelicans beat writer Christian Clark breaks down five prospects the Pelicans are likely to consider with the 10th pick in the draft. Clark quotes executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin on the need to improve the roster construction: “We need to make the pieces fit a little bit better. I think you could all see that this was a rather wonky group at times.” Clark names Corey Kispert, Trey Murphy, Moses Moody and others, in a clear sign that wing shooting is going to be at a premium for New Orleans

Raptors Notes: Lowry, S. Adams, Draft Options, Lawson

Kyle Lowry‘s free agency decision will probably determine whether the Raptors operate above or below the salary cap in free agency, writes Blake Murphy of The Athletic. Demand is expected to be high for the 35-year-old point guard, with the Sixers and Heat among the contending teams likely to make offers.

If Lowry opts to stay in Toronto, where he has been for the past nine seasons, the team won’t have to be concerned with creating cap space. Murphy notes that the Raptors already have about $78MM committed to five players for next season, along with $32.18MM for seven non-guaranteed contracts and $66.3MM in cap holds. With a projected salary cap of $112.41MM, any new deal for Lowry would virtually ensure that the Raptors operate over the cap.

If he opts to go elsewhere, Toronto would be faced with the choice of taking the open cap room or trying to work out a sign-and-trade. Murphy points out that the Raptors can get to nearly $28MM by waiving and renouncing everyone without guaranteed money, which would be almost enough for a max offer for a player who has been in the league less than seven years. A sign-and-trade would likely make operating above the cap a better option, Murphy adds, but it would depend on how much salary the Raptors are willing to take back in return.

There’s more from Toronto:

Pelicans Likely To Trade At Least One Of Bledsoe, Adams

There’s an expectation that the Pelicans will move at least one of Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams in a trade this offseason, sources tell Will Guillory of The Athletic.

Neither Bledsoe nor Adams has positive trade value, as they’re both coming off underwhelming seasons in New Orleans and are under contract for two more years (though Bledsoe’s 2022/23 salary is only partially guaranteed). The two veterans will earn $18MM and $17MM, respectively, during the ’21/22 season.

That means the Pelicans would have to attach a sweetener to Bledsoe and Adams to move them, and it’s unclear how much they’d be willing to give up, according to Guillory. However, the team would like to move at least one of those salaries in order to gain flexibility to add more depth to the roster, Guillory notes. Clearing some salary would also make it easier for New Orleans to pursue an impact free agent such as Kyle Lowry, who is reportedly on the club’s radar.

[RELATED: 2021 NBA Offseason Preview: New Orleans Pelicans]

As Sam Vecenie of The Athletic observes within the same story, Adams may have more trade value than Bledsoe, since the veteran center’s play didn’t drop off significantly — he just wasn’t a great fit alongside Zion Williamson in the Pelicans’ frontcourt. Bledsoe, on the other hand, saw his PPG (12.2), APG (3.8), and FG% (.421) dip to their lowest marks in years and didn’t make his usual impact on the defensive end.

If the Pelicans want to aggressively clear salary from their books without surrendering too many assets, they could consider trading Adams and waiving-and-stretching Bledsoe, Vecenie suggests. Bledsoe has two years left on his deal but only about $22MM in guaranteed salary, which could be spread across five seasons.

New Orleans does have the draft assets necessary to trade both Bledsoe and Adams if that’s the team’s preferred route. The Pelicans control all their own first-round picks, plus four extra first-rounders and three first-round pick swaps from the Lakers and Bucks.

Pelicans Notes: Van Gundy, Ingram, Ball, Hart, Adams

There were signs that Stan Van Gundy might not return for another season as Pelicans head coach well before the news became official Wednesday, according to Shams Charania, Joe Vardon and William Guillory of The Athletic. Earlier today, we shared their insights into Zion Williamson‘s future in New Orleans, and they have information on the coaching situation as well.

Van Gundy expressed his frustrations about the team’s performance to an assistant coach during a late-season bus trip, and someone relayed those comments to executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin with a warning that Van Gundy may not want to go through another season. Additionally, a meeting between Van Gundy and Griffin prior to the last weekend of the season turned out poorly, according to sources.

Sources also tell the authors that Brandon Ingram, who earned an All-Star nod under previous coach Alvin Gentry, didn’t like Van Gundy’s coaching methods. Ingram frequently talked about the way he and Williamson were used when they were on the court together, saying they rarely created better shot opportunities for each other.

There’s more from New Orleans:

  • The Pelicans will face important decisions this summer on two players who were at the heart of the Anthony Davis trade, Charania, Vardon and Guillory add in the same story. Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart will both be restricted free agents and will be seeking substantial raises. Hart has become a vocal leader on a team without a strong veteran presence, and Williamson and Ingram have spoken out in favor of bringing both players back.
  • The puzzling decisions to trade for Steven Adams and then give him a two-year extension look worse than ever, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. New Orleans gave up a first-round pick in the deal for the veteran center, who clogs the lane and takes away room for Williamson to operate. Hollinger also questions the choice to take Eric Bledsoe‘s sizable contract from the Bucks instead of George Hill in the Jrue Holiday trade.
  • The latest coaching change comes at a crucial time for the franchise, Hollinger adds. The Pelicans’ lease in New Orleans expires in 2024, so there’s a need to put a competitive team on the floor as soon as possible to ease any fears of relocation. He adds that owner Gayle Benson is very connected to the city and isn’t currently looking to sell, but the team continues to lose money while missing the playoffs.

Southwest Notes: Doncic, Adams, Reynolds, Rockets

Luka Doncic‘s neck strain appears to be improving heading into Wednesday’s pivotal Game 5 against the Clippers, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The Mavericks superstar downplayed the nerve issue in his neck after his subpar shooting performance in Game 4, Tim MacMahon of ESPN writes. “Injuries are part of basketball, but I was 100 percent,” Doncic said. “I played terrible, so just got to move on to next one.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans handed center Steven Adams a two-year, $35MM extension in November but they may be having second thoughts about that decision, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune writes. While Adams is a beloved teammate, there are major questions regarding his on-court fit and durability, which may compel the front office to explore trade options.
  • Cameron Reynolds has an uphill climb to remain with the Rockets, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle opines. An excess of players at the the wing positions could make it difficult to Reynolds to work his way into the team’s plans. He was signed on a 10-day deal using the hardship provision in the last week of the regular season. He appeared in two games, including a 31-minute stint against San Antonio.
  • The Rockets own three first-round picks, though they would have to convey their highest pick to Oklahoma City as part of a pick swap if they slide out of the top four in the draft lottery. Feigen takes a look at the prospects in each of the areas where the Rockets might be selecting.

Southwest Notes: Alexander-Walker, KP, Adams, Mavs

Pelicans combo guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker found ways to improve during his second NBA season, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Clark highlights Alexander-Walker’s growth as a ball-handler. The 22-year-old, who may play for Team Canada this summer, averaged an encouraging 19.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG and 3.0 APG across the 13 games he started.

Alexander-Walker indicated that extended reps at the NBA level have yielded his growth with the Pelicans. “You start to catch onto things,” he said. “You start to read things and understand what buttons control different things.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Mavericks center Kristaps Porzingis told reporters that the behavior that violated COVID-19 protocols and yielded a $50K league fine was a result of his not understanding the NBA’s stringent new rules as more businesses open across the country during the pandemic, tweets Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News. “I was honestly a little bit confused (about the protocols), but I made a mistake and I paid for it,” Porzingis said. The Dallas big man, who is vaccinated, visited an indoor L.A.-area club.
  • In trading for and subsequently extending center Steven Adams, the Pelicans were hoping to establish an intense interior presence with their new frontcourt tandem of Adams and All-Star power forward Zion Williamson, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. That approach did not even yield a top-10 finish in the West this season, prompting Clark to wonder if New Orleans head of basketball operations David Griffin will attempt to move on from Adams.
  • Though the Mavericks won both the first two games of their first-round matchup against the Clippers on the road, the team is looking to improve from a lackluster free-throw shooting performance, writes Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News. “It’s an area where we can gain ground,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. The Mavericks connected on just 66% of their foul shots during the first two games of the series, down from 77.8% during the regular season. Swingman Tim Hardaway Jr., an unrestricted free agent this summer whom Dallas hopes to retain, has shot just 4-of-8 from the charity stripe.