Timofey Mozgov

New York Notes: Baker, Mozgov, Hardaway Jr.

After emerging as one of the few bright spots on a chaotic Knicks team last season, Ron Baker‘s role has shrunk dramatically of late. As Marc Berman of the New York Post writes, after starting the season sluggishly, head coach Jeff Hornacek has run with Jarrett Jack and Frank Ntilikina at the point guard position.

Baker famously landed an $8MM, two-year contract over the course of the summer after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2016. Last year, his rookie campaign with the Knicks, Baker averaged 4.1 points and 2.1 assists per game.

While Hornacek seems to have an affinity for Baker due to their similar college backgrounds, the 24-year-old Knicks guard hasn’t seen on-court action since October 24.

There’s more from New York this evening:

  • The Knicks knew that they needed to go big if they wanted to submit an offer sheet for Tim Hardaway Jr. that the Hawks wouldn’t just match, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. At the end of the day, Atlanta’s supposed threshold for matching was significantly lower than the $71MM that he signed for.
  • The Nets are making a concerted effort to rest Timofey Mozgov after a busy offseason, a Nets Daily report states. Mozgov, who played 20 games with Team Russia this summer, has sat out of action since November 14.
  • Former pupil Steve Kerr defended some of Phil Jackson‘s executive decisions, Anthony Rieber of NewsDay writes. The Warriors head coach pointed out that his former Bulls coach was wise to draft Kristaps Porzingis and Frank Ntilikina during his tenure with the Knicks, giving him credit for hiring Jeff Hornacek as well.

Atlantic Notes: Wright, Russell, Baynes

One month into his third NBA season and first as a regular member of the Raptors rotation, Delon Wright has dislocated his shoulder. As Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes, the guard suffered the injury in Thursday’s win over the Pelicans and will be out for an indefinite amount of time.

Wright had stepped up in the vacancy that Cory Joseph‘s free agency departure created. His 7.6 points and 2.6 assists per game were both career bests for the Raptors.

While there’s no guarantee that the 25-year-old will miss significant time for the Raptors, the injury comes on the same shoulder that he had surgery on in the summer of 2016, Josh Lewenberg of TSN says. In his first two NBA campaigns, Wright played just 27 games apiece.

A press release from the Raptors’ media relations department says that the next step for Wright will be to travel with the team to New York City next week for a special consultation.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Among the numerous players stepping up for the Celtics this season is offseason free agent addition Aron Baynes, Nick Metallinos of ESPN writes. Baynes provides toughness and leadership for a Boston team that lacked size last season.
  • The “reality of the NBA” has forced the Nets to experiment with smaller lineups. That’s head coach Kenny Atkinson‘s justification for why Timofey Mozgov‘s role has shrunk over the course of the season, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes.
  • Sidelined Nets guard D’Angelo Russell underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his left knee today, the team’s official Twitter account tweets. Russell has been out of action since November 11. Expect the team to apply for a disabled player exception. Per Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders, general manager Sean Marks says there’s “probably a good chance” that they do. A DPE would be designed to replace Jeremy Lin, rather than Russell, since Lin is out for the season.

New York Notes: Hornacek, Ntilikina, Mozgov

A new management group is in place for the Knicks in the wake of Phil Jackson‘s departure in June, with Steve Mills having been promoted to the top job and Scott Perry brought in to have a significant voice in basketball decisions. Over the last few months, Mills and Perry have been making changes typical of a new front office, hiring or demoting executives and scouts, and retooling the roster by trading longtime star Carmelo Anthony.

However, the front office has yet to make any real changes on the sidelines, where head coach Jeff Hornacek continues to run the show. As Ian Begley of ESPN.com details, Knicks decision-makers want to see how Hornacek performed this season with Jackson no longer around to influence the team’s on-court decisions and systems. While Mills and Perry aren’t expecting the club to be a contender, they’d like to see improvement on defense and a strong effort from the current roster.

So far, the on-court results for Hornacek haven’t been good. After an 0-5 preseason, the Knicks are the NBA’s only winless team in the regular season, at 0-3. Additionally, as Begley details, it appears there are some players unfamiliar with some of the team’s plays. ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link), meanwhile, hasn’t been impressed with the Knicks’ effort.

While Hornacek seems likely to get a longer leash in New York than Earl Watson – fired after three games – did in Phoenix, Perry “doesn’t want to waste time with the wrong people in place,” people familiar with his thinking tell Begley. If the Knicks’ lackadaisical showings continue, Hornacek’s seat figures to get very hot.

Here’s more from out of New York:

  • Knicks first-round pick Frank Ntilikina has been limited to just eight minutes played so far this season due to an ankle injury, but he’s set to return to the court on Friday against the Nets, per Barbara Barker of Newsday. “I’m excited,” Ntilikina said. “First game at the Garden in the regular season. So yeah, I can’t wait to go out there.”
  • Nets center Timofey Mozgov, in the second year of lucrative $64MM contract, is looking to expand his game and boost his value by developing a three-point shot. Scott Cacciola of The New York Times has the details.
  • Much has been made of the positive Nets culture under GM Sean Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson. Now, as Anthony Puccio of NetsDaily writes, Brooklyn’s G League affiliate – the Long Island Nets – is attempting to emulate that culture.
  • Earlier today, we passed along details on a major change to Nets ownership and published our recap of the Knicks‘ offseason.

Atlantic Notes: Nets, Torn Labra, Irving

The Nets are in the middle of a long, unconventional rebuild but that hasn’t deterred veterans from aiming for the postseason in 2017/18. Anthony Puccio of Nets Daily recently broke down some Timofey Mozgov comments suggesting exactly that.

While it’s worth recognizing that little stock should be placed in an NBA player saying they think their team can make the playoffs when asked directly, this is the 20-62 Nets we’re talking about and their success or failure will directly impact one of the summer’s most significant storylines  (the Cavaliers acquiring Brooklyn’s first-rounder in the Kyrie Irving trade).

Earlier this offseason, Jeremy Lin adamantly claimed that the Nets would make the playoffs in 2017/18, as Ryne Nelson of SLAM Online broke down, and perhaps more weight should be put in those comments than in Mozgov’s. While D’Angelo Russell may well be the biggest long-term building block the franchise has, it’s hard to argue that Lin is anything but their best player here and now.

Of course any discussion about the Nets’ playoff chances should touch on the fact that this isn’t a typical young, rebuilding organization. Lacking their pick in 2018, there’s no incentive for Brooklyn to lose games. In fact, rallying together for a shot at the playoffs could be the most beneficial thing Kenny Atkinson and Sean Marks could hope for in the development of their young core.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • There were some in the Nets organization that wanted to give international free agent Milos Teodosic a look but the point guard’s age and defensive shortcomings hurt his chances, a Nets Daily report says.
  • Reflecting back on the Irving trade, Zach Lowe of ESPN discusses why he thinks the trade made sense for both sides. The long-read packed with video highlights is a must-read on this magical Labor Day Eve.
  • If you’re concerned about the lingering effects of a torn labrum, you’re not alone. Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe recently spoke with an orthopedic hip surgeon about just that. “When you have a labral tear from impingement, that means that the way that Isaiah Thomas’s hip is shaped, it’s shaped in a way that’s not round,” Derek Ochiai said. “In certain positions, his hip is not round on round. That’s why it’s called impingement, the bone will impinge because it’s not a round-on-round joint. Once you tear your labrum from that, that’s the most common cause of labral tears in any athlete, that tear is not going to heal. It’s always going to be torn, the question is how do you treat that?” The doctor added, however, that there are some high-level athletes with similar conditions that are “doing fine.”
  • The Celtics have been busy adding stars this offseason but CBS’ Matt Moore argues that the club’s biggest star could actually be head coach Brad Stevens.

D’Angelo Russell ‘Surprised’ By Trade To Brooklyn

With current Nets players practicing on the court behind the main stage, Brooklyn’s newest acquisitions, D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov, were showcased for the first time on Monday at the team’s practice facility.DSCN8568

Acquired from the Lakers in a blockbuster trade last week, the 21-year-old point guard and NBA champion center now join a rebuilding Nets franchise coming off a season in which the team had a league-worst 20-62 record. After two controversial years in Los Angeles, the former second overall pick Russell is excited about his fresh start.

“I was surprised,” Russell told the media – including Hoops Rumors – today. “I’ve never really been traded before and I didn’t know what to expect.”

On his way out of California, Russell was seemingly criticized by Lakers president Magic Johnson, who said he selected Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick and traded Russell because he was “looking for a leader.” However, Russell dismissed the criticism and expressed his excitement in moving from one big city to another.

“I can’t control what they [the Lakers] say. I’m gone so it’s the past,” Russell said. “Being 21 [years old], living in Los Angeles and coming to New York is not a complaint for me or my family.”

As for Mozgov, the 30-year-old Russian joins Brooklyn with three years left on the four-year, $64MM albatross of a contract he signed with the Lakers last season. Mozgov averaged 7.4 PPG and 4.9 RPG in 54 games (52 starts) last season and frequently received DNP-CDs late in the season so that the Lakers could play their youngsters.

The former NBA champion with the 2015/16 Cavaliers is familiar with New York City. Mozgov had a 34-game cameo with the Knicks in 2010/11 before he was traded to Nuggets as part of the deal that brought Carmelo Anthony to New York. In that brief time, then-Knicks assistant coach and current Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson saw the 7’1″ center develop – and believes Mozgov will be an asset in 2017/18.

“Timmy fits perfectly [in our system], he’s a competitive player, he’s a guy that loves to run the court he’s a physical player, and I think he rolls to the rim on pick and roll, which we love,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “At the end of the day, I love the person…so he fits perfectly in what we’re trying to build.”

Unless the Nets acquire another center, Mozgov figures to open the 2017/18 season as the starting big man in Brooklyn. The Nets will miss Brook Lopez – who was sent to the Lakers in the trade for the Nets’ new duo – and his three-point shooting. After attempting just 31 threes in his first eight years with the Nets, Lopez added a long-range game last season, making almost 35% (134 for 387) of his shots from beyond the arc. Mozgov has attempted 40 treys in his career and made just seven (17.5%) in his career, but will do what is asked of him.

“We’ll see if coach lets me shoot. [If he does], I will shoot,” Mozgov said. “I’m the guy who does whatever coach tells me to do; if he says shoot from half court, I will shoot from half court.”

Trust will be the key for a young Nets team. Russell was at the center of a highly publicized off-court saga with former teammate Nick Young in Los Angeles and his maturity was also questioned. The young point guard has already shown early signs of dedication, posting an Instagram video of him working out at the Nets’ practice facility late Sunday morning. Russell also mentioned speaking with Jeremy Lin and other Nets teammates about functioning well next season.

“It’s going to take time, not just D’Angelo, but anybody coming into the organization,” Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks said. “To develop trust and respect, I think he’s well on his way to doing it.

“There’s been some criticism and some doubts about him, but we’re a positive culture, positive coaching staff,” Atkinson added. “We’ll hold him accountable and be honest with him and that’s how guys better. He’s got a clean slate with us.”

Lowe’s Latest: Butler, Nuggets, Wolves, Ibaka

Before they accepted the Timberwolves‘ offer for Jimmy Butler, the Bulls canvassed the league in search of a more appealing offer, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN.com.

Lowe writes in his latest piece for ESPN that the Bulls spoke to the Suns about a package centered around Eric Bledsoe and the No. 4 overall pick, but the two sides never really got close. Chicago also had discussions with the Nuggets and Celtics, but Denver drew the line at including Jamal Murray in any potential deal, and Boston wouldn’t include the No. 3 pick, according to Lowe.

As Lowe notes, teams like the Suns and Nuggets had to consider the fact that Butler may not have re-signed with them in free agency in 2019 if they acquired him. Although Butler’s contract would give teams an extra year of control over someone like Paul George, the star forward might still have ultimately been a rental if he didn’t love where he ended up. That cooled the market somewhat, as the Bulls explored potential trade scenarios.

Here’s more from Lowe’s latest piece:

  • The Bulls were never entirely comfortable with the idea of Butler as their foundational player, says Lowe. A source tells ESPN that Butler’s bristling at Fred Hoiberg‘s instructions made some people on the team uncomfortable. Lowe suggests that Hoiberg’s calm personality wasn’t a good match for Butler, who requires a coach more like Tom Thibodeau.
  • At one point, the Timberwolves were intrigued by the possibility of pursuing Serge Ibaka in free agency, but their interest “has faded a bit,” according to Lowe, who adds that most teams expect Ibaka to re-sign with the Raptors.
  • The Lakers were dangling a future unprotected first-round pick to teams with cap room recently in an effort to move the Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng contracts, per Lowe. The earliest first-round pick the Lakers could trade at this point is 2020’s selection, so it’s understandable that D’Angelo Russell appealed more to the Nets than a pick that far down the road.

Lakers Acquire Brook Lopez For Russell, Mozgov

JUNE 22: The trade is finally official, the NBA announced tonight during the draft. The Lakers used their newly-acquired 27th overall pick on Kyle Kuzma.

JUNE 20: The Lakers and Nets have reached an agreement on a trade that will send Brook Lopez to Los Angeles, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). Wojnarowski reports that the Lakers will also receive the No. 27 pick in this week’s draft, and will send D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Nets.BrookLopez vertical

This deal is a fascinating one on several levels. For the Lakers, they manage to cut long-term costs by getting out from under Mozgov’s contract, which still has three years and $48MM left on it. In Lopez, the Lakers will acquire a more productive player on the court, and one whose deal expires at the end of the 2017/18 season, setting the franchise up to create an extra chunk of cap room when LeBron James, Paul George, and other stars reach free agency.

In addition to picking up Lopez, the Lakers will also get a third first-round pick in this Thursday’s draft. The team now holds the second, 27th, and 28th overall selections, and with Russell no longer in the fold, it appears more certain than ever that Los Angeles has its eye on Lonzo Ball with that No. 2 overall pick.

Meanwhile, the Nets will finally bring years of Lopez trade speculation to an end, sending him to Los Angeles with one year remaining on his contract. In exchange for Lopez, a first-round pick, and their willingness to assume Mozgov’s huge contract, the Nets will land their point guard of the future in Russell, the second overall pick from the 2015 draft. The team also hangs onto its second 2017 first-round pick (No. 22).

Russell, who is still just 21 years old, has faced scrutiny about his work ethic and his drive, but his talent is undeniable. In 63 games last season for the Lakers, the young point guard averaged 15.6 PPG, 4.8 APG, 3.5 RPG, and 1.4 SPG in a modest 28.7 minutes per contest. He has also developed into a reliable three-point threat, averaging 2.1 threes per game at a rate of 35.2%. He’ll be under contract for at least two more years, becoming extension-eligible in 2018 and RFA-eligible in 2019.

With Russell and Jeremy Lin now in the mix, the Nets are unlikely to be in the market for a point guard this summer, which means another potential suitor is off the board for top free agents at the position seeking a payday. Brooklyn had been viewed as a potential player for George Hill, among other free agent point guards.

Finally, the Celtics will be watching the outcome of this trade with a close eye, since Boston may end up with both the Nets’ and Lakers’ first-round picks in the 2018 NBA draft. With the draft and free agency still to play out, it’s hard to tell at this point whether either team will improve significantly in 2017/18, but Lopez was the Nets’ most productive player last season, so this isn’t exactly a win-now move for Brooklyn — that bodes well for the C’s.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lakers-Nets Trade: Notes, Reactions, More

The Lakers started clearing the future cap room necessary to add stars to their roster with Tuesday’s trade that sent D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in Thursday’s draft.

L.A. would need about $66.3MM in cap space to sign both Paul George and LeBron James to max deals next summer, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. The Lakers currently project to have about $36MM in cap room for 2018 but they can push that figure past $48MM by unloading Julius Randle, who will have a $12.4MM cap hold. Options to create the rest of the needed space include finding a taker for Jordan Clarkson – who will make $12.5MM in 2018/19 – or stretching Luol Deng, who has three years and $53MM+ left on his contract.

If the Lakers wind up trading for George by sending Clarkson and the 27th and 28th picks in this year’s draft to Indiana, then restructures George’s contract to give him a max extension, that would only leave $17.7MM to offer James without another move, Pincus notes.

Several other media members have weighed in on Tuesday’s deal, including what it means for the long-term future of both teams, so let’s round up some more notes…

  • The Lakers no longer believed Russell could be part of their core group moving forward, relays Bill Oram of the Orange County Register. Oram adds that the team is now free to draft Lonzo Ball without worrying about a possible conflict with Russell.
  • New Lakers president Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka are already proving to be better at building a team than the old regime was, opines Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. Pelinka’s familiarity with agents, Ding notes, gives him a significant advantage over former GM Mitch Kupchak.
  • The Nets wanted Russell because they were concerned they might wind up without a point guard next summer, according to a tweet from NetsDaily. Brooklyn had been facing a 2018 decision on whether to re-sign Lopez, along with the possibility that Jeremy Lin would opt out.
  • There was little interest around the NBA in Lopez and Mozgov, tweets NetsDaily. That’s unsurprising in Mozgov’s case, though somewhat surprising for Lopez, who continues to play well and doesn’t have an albatross of a contract.
  • Trading Lopez increases the possibility that the Nets will take a big man with the No. 22 pick on Thursday, per NetsDaily (via Twitter). Still, Mozgov will get a chance to play — he’s the third Russian to play for the franchise in recent years, and team ownership hopes he views that as a unique opportunity (Twitter link).
  • ESPN’s Kevin Pelton (Insider-only link) assigns grades for the deal, giving the Nets (A-) a slightly better mark than the Lakers (B).

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Lakers, Pacers Engage On Paul George Talks

8:40pm: The Lakers engaged the Kings on a potential trade that would have involved the No. 2 pick going to Sacramento in exchange for Nos. 5 and 10, reports TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter links). According to Aldridge, the Lakers’ goal was to package one of those Kings’ picks with one of the Lakers’ late first-rounders and a player in an effort to get George. However, the Kings turned them down.

Meanwhile, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter links) hears that the Lakers and Pacers are currently at a “standstill” in their talks, though it remains “highly likely” that Indiana will move George this week.

6:11pm: In the wake of their trade agreement with the Nets, the Lakers have offered the Pacers either Jordan Clarkson or Julius Randle along with the No. 27 and No. 28 picks in exchange for George, according to Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). ESPN’s Marc Stein also reported the details of that package (via Twitter).

1:56pm: The Lakers and Pacers have engaged on trade talks for Paul George, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne. No deal is imminent at this point.

Los Angeles is considered George’s likely destination in 2018, raising questions about how aggressive the Lakers would be on the trade market for him. If the Lakers expect George to sign with them as a free agent a year from now, there would be little reason for the club to pursue him now and give up key assets to land him. However, it appears the Lakers are at least kicking the tires on what it would take to acquire George and get him in the fold sooner rather than later.

As for what the Lakers may be willing to offer, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical suggested earlier this week that the club isn’t expected to put the No. 2 overall pick or Brandon Ingram on the table. Wojnarowski said that a combination of Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and the No. 28 pick might be the most the Lakers are open to giving up, though there’s no indication yet that those are the players being discussed by the two teams.

D’Angelo Russell is another player the Lakers could make available in George talks — ESPN’s Chad Ford reported (via Twitter) that the team may be dangling Russell in an effort to pick up another lottery pick. However, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders suggests (via Twitter) that’s not accurate, noting that Russell and George share an agent, who would likely prefer to see his two clients together in L.A. (Twitter link) — Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link) confirms as much. For what it’s worth, Randle is an Aaron Mintz client as well.

If the Lakers and Pacers make a serious effort to work out a deal, don’t expect Luol Deng or Timofey Mozgov to be involved. The Lakers are resisting that sort of salary dump at this point, since it would cost them draft picks or a young player, tweets Wojnarowski. Pincus adds (via Twitter) that removing Deng and/or Mozgov from the Lakers’ cap likely won’t become a priority until 2018, when the team goes after free agents.

While the Lakers are George’s preferred destination, a number of teams are reportedly exploring the possibility of landing the star forward, even as a one-year rental. The Clippers, Cavaliers, and Rockets have been cited as possible trade partners for Indiana, and according to Amico Hoops, the Wizards are also investigating the possibility of a deal.

Lakers Notes: George, Ball, Russell, Workout

The Lakers will have to unload some salary before next summer to offer Paul George a maximum contract, tweets Bobby Marks of The Vertical. George has informed the Pacers that he plans to opt out after next season and hopes to sign with L.A. The franchise would need roughly $30.6MM in cap room to fit in a full max deal for 2018/19, and right now there’s only about $15.6MM available (Twitter link). That number assumes they make both of their first-round picks this year and renounce all their free agents this summer and next summer except for Julius Randle.

To create more space, the Lakers would have to either renounce Randle, a valuable young talent, or trade one of their big-money contracts in Luol Deng ($18MM for 2018/19) Timofey Mozgov ($16MM) or Jordan Clarkson ($12.5MM), according to Marks (Twitter link). Another option is to use the stretch provision, which would amount to paying Deng $7.2MM and Mozgov $6.4MM over the next five years (Twitter link)

There’s more today out of Los Angeles:

  • The news about George makes the Lakers more likely to draft Lonzo Ball, tweets Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. The team is reportedly deciding between Ball and Kansas forward Josh Jackson, but the expected addition of George reduces the need for Jackson.
  • Immaturity remains a concern with incumbent point guard D’Angelo Russell, according to Mark Heisler of The Los Angeles Daily News. Russell, who might be moved to shooting guard if Ball is selected, doesn’t have point guard instincts after switching to the position during his single season at Ohio State. Heisler also shares concerns that Russell is partying too much and that coach Luke Walton has grown tired of the “post-adolescent” nature of the team.
  • Johnny Buss tells Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times that he lost his passion for owning the Lakers when his father Jerry died in 2013. Johnny Buss resigned as members of the board of directors during the season after a failed attempt to take over control of the team. “If anybody thought that Johnny or Jeanie or Jimmy or any of his kids could fill his shoes, they’re grandly mistaken,” Buss said. “He’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of person. So all we could do was try to stay together and do what he asked us to do and that was to make as much money as possible. Create a franchise that was worth billions.”
  • The Lakers will bring in six players Monday for a pre-draft workout, the team announced via Twitter. They are Gonzaga’s Zach Collins, Clemson’s Avry Holmes, Creighton’s Cole Huff, Cal-Irvine’s Luke Nelson, Columbia’s Luke Petrasek and Alabama-Huntsville’s Seab Webster.
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