Terry Rozier

Kupchak Was Surprised To Get Hayward

Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak didn’t think the team had much of a chance at landing Gordon Hayward in free agency last offseason, Chris Sheridan of Basketball News reports.

While the team had the means to create enough cap room for Hayward, the Hornets were surprised that he opted out of his contract with Boston, let alone wanted to go to Charlotte. Hayward signed a four-year, $120MM contract and officially came to Charlotte via a sign-and-trade.

“I didn’t think he would opt out of that and want to leave Boston,” Kupchak said. “That doesn’t happen very often so when that was happening, even at the very end, even though we tried and we did everything we could do — and it was a good feeling that he was going to come to Charlotte — there was a big part of me that said, ‘This just doesn’t happen very often, that a player of this caliber will go to a small market.’ So I wasn’t really sure until we got his signature that he was going to come… That just kind of happened.”

A similar scenario unfolded a year earlier when the Hornets agreed with Terry Rozier on a three-year, $58MM contract and worked out a sign-and-trade with the Celtics after Kemba Walker chose Boston in free agency.

Kupchak has taken heat for overpaying for Hayward and Rozier, but he shrugs it off.

“It’s kind of hard to shake me up, you know? There might have been some criticism; I didn’t follow it that closely at the time,” Kupchak said. “But you’ve got to weigh everything: the draft, free-agent signings, trades. You really have to wait four or five years to look back on it and that’s when you know really whether you made a mistake or you didn’t make a mistake.”

Hayward was enjoying an All-Star level season (19.6 PPG, 5.9 RPG and 4.1 APG) before suffering a foot injury in early April. Rozier is averaging 20.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG and 4.1 APG this season.

Mannix’s Latest: Clippers, Rubio, Magic, Celtics, Horford, More

The Clippers remain in the market for help at the point guard position, with Hornets veteran Terry Rozier among the players who has drawn “strong internal interest,” according to Chris Mannix of SI.com. Mannix adds that George Hill and Ricky Rubio are among the other possible trade candidates in play for the Clippers, who have limited draft assets to use as sweeteners.

The Magic, who are also seeking point guard help, have kicked the tires on Rubio lately as well, per Mannix. That lines up with a Monday report from Jake Fischer of SI.com, who said Orlando had discussed a trade with the Timberwolves that would involve Rubio and Aaron Gordon.

Magic head coach Steve Clifford, who coached Kemba Walker in Charlotte, remains a big fan of the Celtics point guard, but Walker is unlikely to be on the move by March 25, says Mannix.

Here’s more from Mannix’s latest round-up of trade-related rumors:

  • Reports on Monday indicated that a trade is more likely than a buyout for LaMarcus Aldridge, and that the Celtics are focusing on the Spurs‘ big man. However, Mannix cites league sources who believe a buyout is the most likely outcome for Aldridge, and adds that Boston isn’t interested in trading for the veteran Spur.
  • While the Thunder are open to listening to inquires on Al Horford, they’re happy with how he has performed this season and won’t be looking to just give him away, Mannix writes.
  • Rival executives view the Heat as the favorites to land Rockets forward P.J. Tucker, per Mannix.
  • Tom Thibodeau has urged the Knicks‘ front office to be active at the deadline, and the club may pursue upgrades, but so far New York has shown little appetite for moving any of its top young players or taking on long-term salary, Mannix reports.
  • While Michael Porter Jr. is presumed to be off-limits, Gary Harris, Will Barton, and Bol Bol are among the Nuggets believed to be available as the team seeks a complementary piece for Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, according to Mannix.

New York Notes: Oladipo, Rozier, Ball, Rose, Claxton

As the surging Knicks near the trade deadline, Rockets’ forward Victor Oladipo remains a target for the team, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. It was reported back in early February that New York was eyeing the 28-year-old ahead of free agency.

Oladipo has already been traded once the season, having been involved in the four-team deal that sent James Harden to Brooklyn. Set for free agency at the end of the year, Oladipo has put up his best numbers since the 2018/19 season in his time between the Pacers and Rockets. In 24 games, Oladipo is averaging 20.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 4.5 APG.

Berman notes that some people are wary of Oladipo’s physical condition, even though he is two years removed from a season-ending ruptured quad tendon back in January 2019. But, paired with first-time All-Star Julius Randle, Oladipo could give the Knicks an offensive jolt as they contend for a postseason spot.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York teams:

  • In the same piece, Berman notes that people within the Knicks organization fear the team does not have a definitive option at point guard. Elfrid Payton has been injured and inconsistent when healthy, exciting rookie Immanuel Quickley is seen more like a sixth man, Derrick Rose has also been coming off the bench, and Frank Ntilikina only recently reentered the rotation. The Knicks have reportedly kept tabs on Hornets’ Terry Rozier and Pelicans’ Lonzo Ball.
  • Despite flying back with the team after registering multiple negative COVID-19 tests following an inconclusive result, Rose sat out the Knicks‘ last game before the All-Star break on Thursday due to the health and safety protocols, Steve Popper of Newsday writes. It remains to be seen when Rose can rejoin the Knicks on the court.
  • Amid his solid display in the Nets‘ last few games, NetsDaily examines whether Nicolas Claxton can help offset the loss of Jarrett Allen, who the team traded as part of the Harden deal.

Southeast Notes: Brown Jr., Rozier, Winslow, Vucevic

Wizards forward Troy Brown Jr. described his experience with COVID-19 on Sunday, giving a behind-the-scenes look on the subject – including Washington’s recent outbreak – in an article for BasketballNews.com.

The Wizards had nine players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols at one point last month, with half of its roster contracting the virus. Brown provided valuable perspective into what it was like for him and his teammates as they made it through an unprecedented situation.

“When they told me that I tested positive, I wasn’t surprised,” Brown wrote in his story. “I had already started quarantining, so it wasn’t a shock; the positive test just confirmed my suspicions. I’ve taken COVID very seriously and been very safe since this all started, but I still got it. When I got the news, I wasn’t too scared. I don’t know if I’ll have any long-term issues that are related to COVID, but I try not to worry about that since it’s out of my control. My mindset is this: It happened and I can’t do anything about it, so I’m just trying to stay as positive as I can, live day-by-day and not worry.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer examines how Terry Rozier might be affected if LaMelo Ball continues to start for the Hornets. Ball started in his third game on Sunday, finishing with 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists to help defeat the Wizards.
  • Just one year after being traded to Memphis, Justise Winslow‘s health issues have made it difficult to judge the deal that sent him from the Heat to the Grizzlies, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel writes. Winslow has yet to appear in a game for his new team and is currently dealing with a hip injury.
  • The Magic are hoping that Nikola Vucevic is rewarded with an All-Star spot this season, Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel writes. “I think every person on the team is rooting for him to be an All-Star,” teammate Cole Anthony said. “I think 100%, he deserves it.” Vucevic has averaged a career-high 23.1 points per game in 24 contests, also averaging 11.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per contest. His 42% shooting mark from 3-point range is the highest of his career.

Knicks Still Interested In Victor Oladipo?

The Knicks are among the teams with interest in Rockets guard Victor Oladipo and will be keeping an eye on him leading up to next month’s trade deadline and potentially beyond, league sources tell A. Sherrod Blakely of Bleacher Report.

Marc Berman of The New York Post reported back in October that the Knicks would likely have trade interest in Oladipo during the 2020 offseason, but later wrote during the first week of free agency that their interest had cooled. At the time, Berman suggested GM Scott Perry was more enthusiastic than president of basketball operations Leon Rose about the idea of acquiring Oladipo.

Much has changed in the two-plus months since that report. For one, Oladipo has already been traded once from the Pacers to the Rockets, though there has been no indication that a long-term deal with Houston is a certainty — the 28-year-old remains on track for free agency this summer.

Oladipo has also looked more like his old self this season after an underwhelming return from a quad tendon injury in 2019/20, boosting his numbers to 20.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game this year after posting just 14.5 PPG, 3.9 RPG, and 2.9 APG last season. If Rose’s reservations were related to Oladipo’s health and his subpar ’19/20 showing, it’s possible some of those concerns have been alleviated.

Within his report, Blakely notes that two league officials he spoke to believe the 9-13 Knicks are more inclined to be a buyer than a seller at this season’s trade deadline, and may try to land a high-scoring guard. Besides Oladipo, Hornets guards Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham are worth watching, Blakely says. New York has had interest in Rozier in the past, Graham is in a contract year, and LaMelo Ball looms as Charlotte’s point guard of the future.

Generally speaking, the Knicks would like to acquire young veterans who can help lead the team’s young core while growing along with that core, according to Blakely.

Southeast Notes: Monk, Hornets, Magic, Iguodala

Malik Monk is waiting for the Hornets to give him a chance after his bout with COVID-19 earlier this month, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Monk hasn’t gotten into a game yet this season and is fighting for playing time on a roster that’s much deeper at the wing than it was last year.

Monk will be a free agent when the offseason arrives, and the Hornets can make him restricted with a $7.3MM qualifying offer. He views this season as an audition for his NBA future.

“This is the big one. A big step to show what I can do,” Monk said. “With other teams, not only the Charlotte Hornets. To show other teams what I can do and how productive I can be. I can’t do that if I’m not on the court, but I don’t control that.”

Monk was hoping for better after a breakthrough performance in February when he averaged 17.0 PPG on 46% shooting in 13 games. However, before the month ended, he was suspended indefinitely for a violation of the NBA’s drug policy. Monk said he hasn’t received much feedback from coaches about what he needs to do to earn minutes.

“Super, super, super freaking frustrating (with) the waiting,” he said. “The month of February, I finally became an NBA player, finally got the minutes I thought I deserved a couple of years ago. I was proving myself. And that’s all I really could ask for at that point.”

 There’s more from the Southeast Division:
  • Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward have formed an instant chemistry as Hornets teammates, observes Sam Perley of NBA.com. They spent two years together with the Celtics, but Hayward was injured for much of that time. “Based on what I see, I think they play off each other well,” coach James Borrego said. “I’m sure they understand each other’s game at a higher level than if they just came in blindly to this situation. There’s history there, there’s chemistry, there’s connection. I think that helps us right now.”
  • The Magic are enjoying the benefits of their Serge Ibaka trade in 2017, notes Josh Cohen of NBA.com. With Ibaka headed toward free agency, Orlando shipped him to the Raptors at the deadline in exchange for Terrence Ross and a first-round pick. Ross is still a productive player for the Magic, and the pick eventually helped acquire Markelle Fultz from the Sixers.
  • The Heat used Andre Iguodala as a starter tonight, allowing him to extend a streak that began in 2004, tweets Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press. Iguodala has started at least one game in every calendar year since entering the league, but tonight marked his first start since the 2019 NBA Finals.

Southeast Notes: Bryant, Hayward, Collins, Magic Bench, Rozier

Wizards center Thomas Bryant has been fined $45K for repeatedly making inappropriate contact with an official on Thursday, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Bryant, who received a technical foul as part of the incident, was aggressively attempting to confront Pistons forward Blake Griffin, who had committed a Flagrant Foul 1 against Bryant.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Hornets’ prized offseason acquisition, forward Gordon Hayward, is hopeful he’ll play opening night despite a fractured right pinky finger, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Hayward tested out his injury on Friday with some shooting and ball-handling. He won’t play in the preseason finale on Saturday but believes he could return for the regular-season opener against the Cavaliers on Monday. “Certainly, I’m going to be doing everything I can to be ready for the opener,” Hayward said.
  • The Hawks are still hopeful of getting a rookie scale extension done with forward John Collins by Monday’s deadline, Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. If a deal doesn’t get done, Collins will be a restricted free agent next offseason. Team owner Tony Ressler recently remarked that he would “love to see” Collins remains in Atlanta for years to come.
  • Rookies Cole Anthony and Chuma Okeke provide the Magic with a potent offensive duo off the bench, Dan Savage of the team’s website writes. They combined for five 3-pointers in Orlando’s preseason game on Thursday. “We obviously need to have balance with the starting five and the bench,” Magic shooting guard Evan Fournier said. “They’re going to have a huge role to play, so hopefully the (young) guys can figure it out and help us win.” Okeke missed all of last season with a knee injury, while Anthony was chosen with the 15th pick in this year’s draft.
  • There’s no upside to trading Terry Rozier this season, Bonnell opines in a separate article for The Observer. Though the Hornets selected LaMelo Ball in the draft, Rozier is a steady producer, a strong locker room presence and adds intangibles that rub off on other players. It would make more sense to deal Rozier next offseason for a draft pick or young veteran when he’ll be entering his walk year, Bonnell adds.

Southeast Notes: Monk, Heat, Fultz, Bamba, Zeller

Hornets guard Malik Monk, who tested positive for the coronavirus, has now received medical clearance and could begin practicing with the team as soon as this weekend, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.

According to Bonnell, Monk was scheduled to conduct individual workouts on Thursday and Friday. Hornets head coach James Borrego said that the former lottery pick should be able to participate in group workouts on Saturday and there’s still a chance he could play in the club’s second preseason game on Monday.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald, who says the Heat are expected to at least kick the tires on the possibility of a James Harden trade, examines what the team’s best possible offer for the Rockets star might look like. Removing the protections on the 2023 first-round pick previously sent to Oklahoma City would be important, Jackson notes, since it would allow Miami to move its ’25 and ’27 first-rounders without violating the Stepien rule.
  • Josh Robbins of The Athletic explains why the Magic remain bullish on Markelle Fultz‘s upside and says there’s “no doubt whatsoever” that the team will exercise its fourth-year option for 2021/22 on Mohamed Bamba this month.
  • Although Hornets fans view Terry Rozier and Cody Zeller as potential trade candidates, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer suggests in a mailbag that the odds of either players being dealt in the next few months aren’t particularly high. Of the two, Zeller is probably more likely to be moved in 2020/21, Bonnell adds.

Southeast Notes: Rozier, Hawks, Wizards, Borrego

The big Hornets offseason acquisition of 2019, guard Terry Rozier, faces a new challenge in the 2020/21 season: acclimating to two key incoming pieces who will need touches in point guard LaMelo Ball and forward Gordon Hayward, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes.

“It just goes back to adjusting to what is best for the team — what can help us get better,” said Rozier, who cited the adjustment he made during the 2019/20 season to accommodate emergent Hornets point guard Devonte’ Graham. “I became a great catch-and-shoot guy last year. That’s adding to my game, doing multiple things.” 

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The College Park Skyhawks, G League affiliate of the Hawks, are among the several clubs anticipated to opt out of the proposed G League bubble season, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). The season is expected to transpire in the Atlanta area.
  • New Wizards reserve center Robin Lopez has joined the team for his first practice, Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets. Meanwhile, newly-extended power forward Davis Bertans has arrived in D.C. and is expected to be cleared for practice by Saturday, according to Ava Wallace of the Washington Post (via Twitter). Wallace notes that visa problems delayed the big man’s arrival.
  • Now that the Hornets appear to be making a push for the play-in tournament and a crack at the playoffs, head coach James Borrego will exercise more caution in the freedom he gives young players this season, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer notes.

Clippers Interested In Terry Rozier?

The Clippers want to add another guard to their roster and have talked to the Hornets about Terry Rozier, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.

Rozier, 26, still has two years and nearly $37MM left on the contract he signed with Charlotte last summer. He averaged 18.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists during his first season with the team.

The Clippers remain interested in free agent Rajon Rondo, Mannix adds, but there are concerns that he will get a larger offer from someone else. L.A. is down a guard after trading Landry Shamet this week in a three-team deal.