Tobias Harris

Pacific Notes: Jordan, LeBron, Harris, Cauley-Stein

The lack of teams with ample salary-cap space this summer will present a tough choice for Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, as Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer explains. Jordan has a player option of $24.1MM this summer and multiple league executives told O’Connor he probably wouldn’t receive an annual salary approaching that on the open market. Some of the teams that will have cap room, such as the Nets, Hawks and Sixers, aren’t looking to add a veteran center at a high salary, O’Connor continues. It’s plausible that Jordan will opt in and take his chances on the open market in 2019, O’Connor adds.

Also around the Pacific Division:

  • The lack of elite, established players on their current rosters will make it tough sell for the Lakers and Clippers to land LeBron James this summer, Marc Spears of The Undefeated opines. The Lakers could sign two major free agents this summer, but the Clippers don’t have that much cap room, Spears notes. The Clippers may have hurt their cause to sign a top free agent by trading away Blake Griffin in the first year of his long-term contract, Spears adds.
  • Forward Tobias Harris has been traded three times during his career and he’s taken the latest one in stride, as he told Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders. Harris was the top player acquired by the Clippers in the Griffin blockbuster. “My first trade from Milwaukee to Orlando was a situation where I just wanted to prove myself to the league,” Harris said. “When I was traded from Orlando to Detroit, it was a situation where I wanted to help the team get to the playoffs, and that’s similar to this one here, too.” 
  • Willie Cauley-Stein establishing his market value is among the storylines surrounding the Kings the remainder of the season, according to James Ham of NBCSports.com. Cauley-Stein has to emerge as the defensive stopper he was in college and improve his rebounding to earn an extension this offseason, Ham continues. The development of the De’Aaron FoxBogdan Bogdanovic backcourt and the need for Buddy Hield to become a playmaker are some of the other things to watch, Ham adds.

Clippers Notes: Jordan, Bradley, Rivers, Harris

The Trail Blazers contacted the Clippers about DeAndre Jordan but never made a formal offer, according to Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. His story corroborates a recent report from Marc Stein of The New York Times that the Blazers are among the teams with interest in the 29-year-old center.

L.A. is hoping to get a first-round pick, financial flexibility and young talent in any deal for Jordan, league sources tell Turner. That would be a package similar to what they received when they sent Blake Griffin to Detroit earlier this week. The same sources say teams are reluctant to trade for Jordan without assurances that he won’t opt out of his $24.1MM salary for next season and that he is willing to sign a long-term extension.

Jordan, who is averaging 11.8 points and 14.9 rebounds, would bring a huge defensive presence to Portland. Finding an acceptable match for his $22.6MM deal wouldn’t be easy for the Blazers, whose roster is filled with expensive, long-term contracts, though they do own all of their future first-rounders.

Clippers Trade Blake Griffin To Pistons

11:46pm: The trade is now official, according to a press release issued by the Pistons.Blake Griffin vertical

“We are serious about winning, and this is a major move to improve our team,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said in a statement.Blake Griffin is one of the NBA’s elite players, and when you get an opportunity to add that kind of talent, you take it. … He is a great fit for our team and will bring a combination of toughness and athleticism that will elevate our team and excite our fans.”

5:20pm: The Clippers have agreed to trade star power forward Blake Griffin to the Pistons in a multi-player deal, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Detroit will ship forward Tobias Harris, shooting guard Avery Bradley, center Boban Marjanovic, a first-round pick and a second-round draft pick to the Clippers, Wojnarowski adds, citing league sources.

Forward Brice Johnson and center Willie Reed are also heading to Detroit, Wojnarowski adds in another tweet.

Detroit’s 2018 first-round pick is protected if it’s a top-four selection, according to Wojnarowski; It has the same protection for the next two drafts, then goes unprotected in 2021. The second-round pick in the trade will come in the 2019 draft (Twitter link).

The Pistons, long rumored to be active on the trade market, have been trying to shake up their team while nosediving down the Eastern Conference standings. They have lost eight in a row and now sit in the ninth spot in the East. Wojnarowski had reported just hours ago that Detroit was shopping Bradley and his expiring contract.

Griffin re-signed with the Clippers on a five-year max deal over the summer, so the Pistons are taking on an enormous salary commitment in order to pair him with current franchise player Andre Drummond. Griffin is making $29.5MM this season and he’ll be due another $141.6MM over the next four years, though the final year of the contract includes a player option.

The longtime Clipper will also receive a $860K trade bonus spread over the next four seasons, salary-cap expert Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. The Griffin trade bonus is not voided because his current salary is slightly below the max, Marks adds.

The Clippers are in the playoff hunt at 25-24, so dealing Griffin certainly signals a change in the franchise’s long-term direction. It’s possible that this will be the first of multiple moves for the Clippers, since players like DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams have also been considered potential trade candidates.

Aside from Drummond, who is making approximately $23.8MM this season, Harris and Reggie Jackson are Detroit’s highest-paid players at $16MM this season. Bradley is making $8.8MM and Marjanovic is pulling in $7MM this season. Johnson is earning approximately $1.3MM and Reed has a $1MM contract this season.

Both teams are hard-capped and near the luxury-tax line, as Marks notes in a tweet, so it was crucial that each team sent and received about the same amount of money.

The Clippers will get cap relief in the long run as the contracts of Harris and Marjanovic expire after the 2018/19 season. Once this deal is finalized, Danilo Gallinari‘s contract will represent the only guaranteed money on L.A.’s cap beyond 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Reaction To The Blake Griffin Trade

The Pistons and Clippers agreed to the biggest blockbuster trade of the season on Monday, with star forward Blake Griffin as the centerpiece.

Here’s how some top columnists from around the country view the deal:

  • Acquiring Griffin is more likely to be the beginning of the end for Stan Van Gundy’s regime with the Pistons than it is to turn the franchise around, Kelvin Pelton of ESPN opines. Detroit will hard-pressed to make any moves after the season because Griffin’s contact will push the team close to the luxury-tax line, Pelton points out. The Pistons also weakened themselves at the wing spots by trading Avery Bradley, while the Clippers added another quality starter with an affordable contract in Tobias Harris, Pelton continues. Trading Griffin also gives the Clippers a better chance at creating max cap space next summer to pursue top free agents, though trading a star player at the beginning of a long-term deal won’t help the Clips build trust with those free agents, Pelton adds.
  • The Clippers have positioned themselves to be major players in the 2019 free agent market, according to Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, Kevin Love and Kemba Walker could be available and the team will have just one guaranteed contract on the books for the 2019/20 season, Bontemps notes. LeBron James and Paul George could also be available if they sign one-year deals with their current squads, Bontemps adds.
  • The Pistons paid a king’s ransom for Griffin and it’s unlikely to work out in their favor, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News opines. Griffin’s injury history is a major concern, particularly his left knee issues, and he has missed one-third of his team’s games since the 2013-14 season, Deveney notes. He’s also a questionable fit next to Andre Drummond, since Griffin is a subpar three-point shooter and has also struggled with his mid-range game this season.
  • Detroit hasn’t landed a big-time free agent since Chauncey Billups in 2002, so the Pistons can only acquire an All-Star talent through trades, according to Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. The Pistons need Griffin to make the playoffs, while the first-rounder is the biggest piece the Clippers landed. That likely gives L.A. two first-rounders in the next draft during a time when picks are highly coveted, the USA Today duo adds.
  • The Clippers clearly seem to believe they can make a serious run at LeBron James when he enters free agency in July and this trade will facilitate that goal, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Potential trades involving DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams will be aimed in helping them in that quest, Stein adds.

Pistons Notes: Bradley, Leuer, Bullock, Galloway

Avery Bradley‘s role will change now that he’ll be playing alongside Ish Smith instead of Reggie Jackson until after the All-Star break, as he and coach Stan Van Gundy noted to me in a Detroit Free Press story.

The Pistons shooting guard returned to action on Wednesday after a seven-game absence due to a groin injury. While Bradley was on the mend, Jackson suffered a severe ankle sprain. Bradley will have to get used to quicker tempo and he’ll have the ball in his hands a little more. Van Gundy is running the offense more through the wings with Jackson on the sidelines.

“It’s going to change and I just have to make the adjustment,” Bradley said of his role. Bradley usually defended point guards with Jackson on the floor but those switched assignments will occur less often with the smaller Smith.

“The best part of Reggie Jackson’s defense is his post defense, so you could play him on a lot of bigger people,” Van Gundy said. “With Ish, that’s a lot different. So matchups will be a little bit different.”

In other Pistons developments:

  • Forward Jon Leuer, who hasn’t played since October 31st due to an ankle injury, could be headed to surgery if his condition doesn’t improve soon. Leuer received a joint lubrication injection for his sprained left ankle a month ago after suffering a setback. He was put on anti-inflammatory medication recently to aid the healing process. Van Gundy hopes that Leuer will show significant progress by next weekend. “I can’t tell him to play and I can’t tell him to go get surgery,” Van Gundy said. “At that point, if we’ve gone another 12 days and we haven’t had anything change, he’s going to have to make some decisions on what he wants to do.”
  • With Bradley returning to the lineup, Reggie Bullock and Anthony Tolliver will share a starting spot, depending on matchups. Against smaller lineups, Bullock will start. Against taller, more rugged power forwards, Tolliver will get the nod with Tobias Harris moving to small forward.
  • The backup point guard job spot behind Smith is up for grabs. Langston Galloway played most of those minutes the first game Jackson was out. Dwight Buycks, who is on a two-way contract, played 18 minutes at the point the following game.

Pistons Notes: Bad Wins, Good Wins, LASIK

The Pistons have been winning ball games but that doesn’t mean Stan Van Gundy won’t still look for ways to improve the team. As Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes, Detroit’s ugly win over the Hawks on Friday yielded some proactive concern from their bench boss.

We have to understand what it is that’s gotten us here and what it will take to keep having success. It’s not simply showing up for the game,” Van Gundy said of the young Pistons and their 9-3 record (now 10-3, more on that below).

In that Friday night game, the Pistons blew a 19-point lead only to claw their way to a victory down the stretch. Given that the club’s early success in 2017/18 is such a stark contrast to their disappointing 2016/17 campaign, it’s not surprising that Van Gundy is adamant to keep his squad on its toes.

There’s more from Detroit today:

  • The Pistons responded well to Stan Van Gundy‘s concerns after the Friday night tilt, putting forth one of their best efforts of the season in a win two days later against the Heat. “Our guys got down double figures in the second half and just kept playing, kept fighting, kept staying with the game,” the head coach said. “I was really proud of the guys, especially the way they shot the ball.”
  • Spot starter Reggie Bullock has developed his game over the course of three seasons with the Pistons, adding to the three-point shot that helped him secure a role in the NBA. Keith Langlois of the team’s official website discussed the forward’s evolving game. “This year I felt like I stepped up my defensive intensity and rebounding and running the floor and making the right passes and doing whatever I can to help the team,” Bullock said. “Even with me not making shots as I would like to, my game still affects the energy of the team.
  • Among the reasons for Tobias Harris‘ step forward with the Pistons this season is LASIK eye surgery. As Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype writes, the forward is shooting .478 from three-point range so far this year, a marked improvement from last season’s .347.

And-Ones: Trade Predictions, Perkins, Extensions

In his latest predictions feature, Zach Lowe of ESPN speculates that a number of players will be put on the block this season if not officially traded. Since we already know that there’s at least some truth to the oddly specific guess that the Timberwolves would trade Cole Aldrich for Jared Dudley, perhaps we should take a closer look at some of the rest.

Among the other trade predictions that Lowe makes is one that has the Raptors seeking to shop big man Jonas Valanciunas. Considering that the traditional Lithuanian center has been the subject of speculation over the course of the past few seasons, this one seems like rather low hanging fruit.

Similarly, Lowe makes the thoroughly uncrazy prediction that Eric Bledsoe will be on the move. What bonus points Lowe doesn’t earn for predicting a Bledsoe trade, however, he does earn for earmarking the Nuggets and Clippers as possible interested suitors. Alas Denver, it’s worth noting, is already rather backloaded at the guard positions.

Other players that come up in Lowe’s column include the likes Dennis Schroder, DeAndre Jordan and Tobias Harris.

There’s more from around the league:

  • The NBA will name Michelle Johnson their new Senior Vice President and Head of Referee Operations, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets. Johnson is a retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General.
  • The NBA coaching community could soon have another recent league veteran join its ranks. As Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype writes, Kendrick Perkins – who played 11 seasons in the NBA – believes he would have plenty of options to accept a role on the sidelines.
  • Only a few players from the 2014 NBA Draft class have landed sizable pay days and that’s for good reason, Mitch Lawrence of Forbes writes. Beyond players like Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, few have earned substantial rookie contract extensions. Only Marcus Smart, he writes, has been a notable contributor to an elite playoff team.

Central Notes: Pistons, Maker, Munford

Only two of the Pistons‘ opening day starters are set in stone, the other three have yet to be determined, Keith Langlois of the team’s official website writes. With Avery Bradley at the two and Andre Drummond in the middle, head coach Stan Van Gundy is hard-pressed to figure out who will join them at tip-off.

Everything’s a consideration,” Van Gundy said, before implying that Tobias Harris would probably start for the Pistons but, then, again might not. “I thought he was good off the bench last year. I’m really not locked in to anything.”

As Langlois explains, what Van Gundy decides to do with Harris will impact the other decisions he’ll have to make with the Pistons’ lineup. If the 25-year-old forward plays the three, they’ll look to somebody like Jon Leueur to fill in at the four. If they pencil Harris in at the four, they could turn to someone like Stanley Johnson to man the three.

Another decision that the Pistons will need to come to terms on ahead of opening day is who to start at the point. On one hand the idea of a healthy Reggie Jackson working in tandem with Drummond is tantalizing but there’s no guarantee it plays out that way in the first game of the season.

Langlois writes that Ish Smith could get serious consideration to start for the Pistons. “We found out last year just about anybody’s going to play pretty well with Ish,” Van Gundy said.

There’s more from the Central Division:

Central Notes: Bucks, Williams, Drummond, Pistons

The Bucks have a couple of options beyond making a trade to drop back below the luxury-tax line, as Gery Woelfel of WoelfelPressBox.com points out. Citing sources, Woelfel calculates the current Milwaukee payroll at $120.6MM, which would put it approximately $1.4MM over the tax threshold. The Bucks could shed some payroll by either releasing point guard Gary Payton Jr., who has a non-guaranteed $1.3MM deal, and/or waiving Spencer Hawes $6.5MM contract. By using the stretch provision, the Bucks could reduce Hawes’ 2017/18 cap hit by more than $4MM.

In other items involving the Central Division:

  • Unrestricted free agent forward Derrick Williams could wind up back with the Cavaliers, Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net reports. Williams has drawn little interest in the open market but the Cavs could sign him to a one-year, $2.4MM contract once they decide whether to trade Kyrie Irving, Amico adds. Williams averaged 6.2 PPG and 2.3 RPG on 51% shooting in 17.1 MPG over 25 regular-season games with Cleveland but was used sparingly in the playoffs.
  • Andre Drummond has already noticed a significant difference in his breathing and stamina since undergoing sinus surgery this summer to correct a deviated septum, Rod Beard of the Detroit News reports. Playing at a high altitude in the NBA Africa Game in South Africa, the Pistons center said he was breathing much easier on and off the court, as he told Beard. “Just being able to breathe, I can’t even explain how great it feels to sleep easier and breathe easier when I play,” Drummond said. “I’m not worried about gasping for air when I go hard.” Drummond had been breathing mainly through one nostril during his NBA career prior to the surgery.
  • Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy will have difficult decisions on his power forward rotation, as Keith Langlois of Pistons.com notes. Tobias Harris could wind up splitting his time between both forward spots and the rest of the power forward minutes will be soaked up by a combination of Jon Leuer, Anthony Tolliver and second-year man Henry Ellenson. Leuer, who signed a four-year contract last summer, could wind up as the starter despite slumping badly after the All-Star break, Langlois continues. Tolliver signed up for his second stint with the franchise this summer and brings the elements of toughness and 3-point shooting, while Ellenson put his shot-making ability on display in summer-league action, Langlois adds.

Central Notes: Rose, Parker, Mirotic, Harris

Newest Cavaliers point guard Derrick Rose, who signed with the club on a one-year, $2.1MM veteran’s minimum contract, is viewed by the team as a backup, Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor writes. New Cavs general manager Koby Altman was careful in describing his new point guard, stating that the former Most Valuable Player will be an asset off the bench.

Entering free agency, Rose reiterated on many occasions that his goal was to sign a max contract in free agency. After a decent – if unspectacular – year with the Knicks in 2016/17 that ended with knee surgery, Rose’s free agency destinations dwindled, as did his salary. However, Altman noted that Rose was mostly interested in a winning environment.

“He wanted to be in a place where he can play with excellent players and a place where he can play in meaningful games,” Altman said at his introductory press conference.. “It’s funny, he uses the term, ‘I just want to hoop.’ He just wants to be here. He’s excited to be here. He’s in a great space mentally and his body looks great and we’re really excited about him. He came here for the opportunity to win. He came here for the opportunity to play with other great players.”

Rose, still just 28 years old, will focus on helping the team, even if it means sacrificing playing time.

Below are additional links around the Central Division:

  • Bucks‘ forward Jabari Parker is recovering from a second tear of his ACL but is recovery is going well, he tells ESPN’s Nick Friedell. The 22-year-old has previously suffered a tear in the same ACL but despite not having a return date in mind, he expects to be back on the court this upcoming season.
  • Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy views Tobias Harris as a starter but it will be up to the rest of the team’s performance to see if he becomes a starter, NBA.com’s Keith Langois writes.
  • Nikola Mirotic, who is currently in talks with the Bulls, will not play in Eurobasket 2017, according to Sportnado. Mirotic’s focus is his NBA career, the brief report states.