Trevor Ariza

Northwest Notes: Whiteside, Nuggets, Towns, Wiggins, Dort

The Trail Blazers will entertain offers for center Hassan Whiteside, a free agent after the season, and The Athletic’s Jason Quick estimates the chances of him being traded at 50/50. Quick also dealt with a few other Blazers-related topics.

Their recent trade with the Kings which involved five players and two second-round picks was a solid one, according to Quick, because the Trail Blazers saved approximately $12MM and upgraded at the wing with Trevor Ariza replacing Kent Bazemore. Portland is unlikely to deal its first-round pick because president of basketball operations Neil Olshey covets draft choices, even if the draft class is considered weak, Quick adds.

We have more from around the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets will continue to be without three rotation players when they face the Grizzlies on Tuesday, Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports tweets. Starting point guard Jamal Murray will miss his sixth straight game due to an ankle sprain while power forward Paul Millsap will sit out for the 11th consecutive game due to a knee injury. Backup big man Mason Plumlee will miss his fourth straight game due to a foot ailment.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins get the blame when things aren’t going well with the Timberwolves but the players around them need to do more, Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. Guard Shabazz Napier told Youngblood that the role players need to do their jobs better. “This team is so used to KAT and Wigs doing all the work that when it doesn’t happen, we just stand around,’’ Napier said. “That’s how it is. We just gotta find ways to help them guys out. … We all, the role players, have to figure out, how do we help them out better?’’
  • Undrafted rookie guard Luguentz Dort has earned playing time with the Thunder for his defense while showing more of an offensive game, Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman relays. Over the last five games, Dort is averaging 7.2 PPG and 1.8 APG while shooting 5-for-12 on 3-pointers and making seven steals. “You can’t tell me he’s a rookie,” guard Chris Paul said of the two-way player.

Northwest Notes: Kings, Wolves, Whiteside, Noel

New Trail Blazers trio Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan and Wenyen Gabriel are excited for their opportunity in Portland, according to Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com. And their new teammates are looking forward to integrating them into the team’s system as 19-27 Portland competes for the eighth seed in the West.

The Trail Blazers are currently the No. 11 seed, just 2.5 games shy of the current eighth seed, the 21-24 Grizzlies. The 34 year-old Ariza appears the most likely new player to be incorporated into the current rotation. He is in the first of a two-year, $25MM contract he signed with the Kings in 2019.

“At this point, we’ve really simplified everything that we’ve done over the years, so… I don’t think it will be that hard to catch on to,” said star Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard. “Like today at practice, they put in some of the sets that we’ve been running, the things that we do a lot and we didn’t have to stop practice to be like ‘Alright, this what we gotta do.’ [Ariza] just kinda remembered it, it was pretty simple for him.” 

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • During halftime of a seventh straight Timberwolves loss, irked coach Ryan Saunders berated his team, according to Chris Hine of the Minnesota Star Tribune. Much of that frustration was directed at disappointing $148MM wing Andrew Wiggins. “He was yelling at me a lot of the time,” Wiggins confirmed. “I needed it. The first half was a bad first half. I wasn’t aggressive.”
  • Though the Trail Blazers are clearly eager to cut more contracts to get under the luxury tax this spring, The Athletic’s Jason Quick suspects that GM Neil Olshey may have trouble offloading $98MM center Hassan Whiteside. Quick puts Whiteside’s odds of remaining in Portland through the February 6 trade deadline at 50/50.
  • Thunder backup center Nerlens Noel will miss tonight’s tilt against the Timberwolves due to a surgical procedure for a left cheek fracture, according to an ESPN report. The timeline on Noel’s absence will be updated next week. Noel, the No. 6 pick in 2013, has been productive in limited minutes for Oklahoma City, averaging 8.2 PPG and 5.2 RPG.

Kings, Trail Blazers Complete Five-Player Trade

JANUARY 21: The trade between the Kings and Trail Blazers is now official, according to press releases issued by both teams.

JANUARY 18: The Kings and Trail Blazers have agreed to a trade that will send Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to Sacramento in exchange for Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel, and Caleb Swanigan, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Shams Charania of The Athletic first reported (via Twitter) that the Blazers are trading Bazemore to Sacramento.

The Kings will also receive Portland’s second-round picks in 2024 and 2025 as part of the deal, a source tells Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link). ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter) that the swap can’t be officially completed until Tuesday, when Gabriel’s trade restriction lifts.

For Portland, the deal represents a cost-cutting move that shouldn’t impact the team’s on-court performance too drastically, if at all. Both Ariza and Bazemore have had down years so far, but Bazemore’s drop-off has been more precipitous —  he has posted a career-worst .347 FG% to go along with a .327 3PT%. Ariza is at least still knocking down his threes (.352 3PT%) at his usual career rate, even as his role was reduced in Sacramento.

Tolliver had been a rotation player for the Blazers, with 16.8 minutes per game in 33 contests, but hasn’t been at his best either — his .368 FG% is his worst mark since he was a rookie in 2008/09.

Bazemore and Tolliver are earning a combined $20.89MM, compared to a total of $15.68MM for Ariza, Swanigan, and Gabriel. Besides trimming more than $5MM off the Blazers’ team salary, the deal will also reduce the organization’s projected tax bill by $12.6MM, according to Marks (via Twitter).

Additionally, the Blazers will create a pair of traded player exceptions, including one worth just over $7MM, since they have a disabled player exception available to acquire Swanigan. The team will have the opportunity to keep Ariza for the 2020/21 season if he finishes the year strong. His $12.8MM salary for ’20/21 is partially guaranteed for $1.8MM, per Basketball Insiders.

It’s not clear if Swanigan and Gabriel fit into Portland’s plans, though it’s worth noting Swanigan was originally drafted by the Blazers before being traded to the Kings a year ago. Both players are on expiring contracts. Portland won’t need to cut anyone to make room to accommodate the three incoming players, since the club already had an open roster spot.

As for the Kings’ side of the deal, Amick observes (via Twitter) that it opens up a roster spot immediately and also creates slightly more flexibility moving forward, since Bazemore and Tolliver are on expiring contracts. The Ariza signing hadn’t worked out like the franchise had hoped, so Sacramento will hope that Bazemore can bounce back and that Tolliver looks more he did when he was a member of the Kings in 2016/17 and shot .442/.391/.744.

There are no plans to buy out Bazemore, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, who tweets that the veteran swingman has a “great relationship” with head coach Luke Walton and the Kings’ front office.

Even if the Kings’ new additions keep slumping, the team will come away with a pair of future assets in the trade by picking up the Blazers’ 2024 and 2025 second-round picks. Sacramento had already acquired multiple extra second-rounders for 2020 and 2021, so the team is building up quite a stash of draft picks, which could be useful in future deals.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Reactions To Kings-Trail Blazers Trade

Today’s five-player trade with Portland is the start of an in-season reboot for the Kings, writes Jason Jones of The Athletic. Sacramento was willing to provide financial relief for the Trail Blazers by taking on the remainder of Kent Bazemore‘s $19.3MM expiring contract in the deal, which also netted Anthony Tolliver and a pair of future second-round picks.

By sending out three players in return, the Kings create roster flexibility that could be important in a potential trade of Dewayne Dedmon, Jones adds. The center, who signed a three-year, $40MM contract in free agency, lost his starting job after four games and has been vocal in his displeasure over a reduced role.

Jones notes that the deal is an admission that the summer’s free agency haul was a disappointment. Dedmon appears on the way out, and sending Trevor Ariza to Portland probably had to be done to make that happen. Jones relays that coach Luke Walton was fond of Ariza, but his contract is only partially guaranteed for next season so he may not have been part of the Kings’ future.

Jones believes anyone on Sacramento’s roster — apart from De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley III and Buddy Hield — is a candidate to be traded by the February 6 deadline, even Bogdan Bogdanovic, who will be a restricted free agent this summer.

There’s more reaction to today’s trade announcement:

  • The Kings have been collecting second-rounders and were happy to add two more, observes James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. With the addition of Portland’s picks in 2024 and 2025, Sacramento now has 13 second-round selections over the next six seasons. Ham adds that the value of those picks could increase once the league lowers the age requirement for the draft to 18, which is expected by 2022.
  • The trade is a signal that the Blazers have decided to “punt” the rest of the season, claims John Canzano of The Oregonian. He calls it understandable considering Portland had the highest payroll in the league and no playoff hopes other than possibly snatching the eighth seed. He also questions why president of basketball operations Neil Olshey decided to blow up a roster that reached the Western Conference finals last year, trading Evan Turner to the Hawks for Bazemore and sending Meyers Leonard and Maurice Harkless to the Heat for Hassan Whiteside.
  • Jason Quick of the Athletic talked to Bazemore on Friday night about the possibility of being traded. Bazemore had been hoping for a long stay in Portland, but he took a wait-and-see approach after several weeks of hearing his name in trade rumors. “I’ve been around long enough now, man, another day in the life, bro,” he said. “I ain’t even thought about it, honestly. Been traded before … I just go out and ready to go and continue to get better and be my best when the time is right.”

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Pacific Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

Even as the Warriors have fallen off a cliff this season due to injuries and offseason roster changes, the Pacific has remained one of the more competitive divisions in basketball.

The Lakers and Clippers are among the NBA’s best teams and look like legit championship contenders. The Suns and Kings aren’t in that tier, but they’re currently neck-and-neck for the No. 8 seed in the West. It’s possible there could be as many as four buyers in the division at the trade deadline.

After having initially looked last month at three potential trade candidates in the Pacific, we’re singling out three more today. Let’s dive in…

Trevor Ariza, F
Sacramento Kings
$12.2MM cap hit; $1.8MM of $12.8MM salary guaranteed for 2020/21

Ariza has bounced around the league since leaving Houston during the 2018 offseason, playing for the Suns, Wizards, and Kings since then. None of those teams has been a perfect fit for the veteran forward, who has only logged 32 total minutes for Sacramento since November 8 due to a combination of personal reasons, a groin injury, and general ineffectiveness.

The Kings will have a crowded frontcourt rotation when Marvin Bagley III returns, so it’s unclear whether or not Ariza will have an opportunity to play regular, consistent minutes all season. That could make him expendable.

Since Sacramento is a young team pushing for a playoff team, the front office may decide it’s worth keeping Ariza around for his veteran leadership and for depth purposes — especially if he continues his up-and-down play and doesn’t have much value on the trade market. But it’s not a lock that he’s still on the Kings’ roster by February 7.

Willie Cauley-Stein, C
Golden State Warriors
$2.2MM cap hit; $2.3MM player option for 2020/21

Cauley-Stein could have received a more lucrative deal with another team, but opted to join the Warriors for a chance to play with a contender. Unfortunately, that plan has backfired, as Golden State’s 4-18 record puts the club in the running for the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft, not a title.

In addition to being a down year for the Warriors, it’s been a bit of a slow start for Cauley-Stein, whose scoring average is down to just 7.5 PPG. Still, he has started 18 games at center for the Warriors and is blocking a career-best 1.2 shots per contest. No contender would target him as a potential starter, but he could have some value as a backup option.

If the Warriors believe Cauley-Stein will likely opt out at season’s end and return to the open market, it makes sense to see if they can get anything for him this season. His minimum-salary contract can be dealt without taking any salary back and he could be replaced with a smaller minimum-salary cap hit, freeing up some much-needed flexibility for the Dubs under their hard cap.

Maurice Harkless, F
Los Angeles Clippers
$11MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Harkless, acquired by the Clippers in one of my favorite moves of the summer, has been starting games and playing consistent minutes for a title contender despite being viewed as a salary dump five months ago. It’s still hard to believe that the Clips were able to acquire a first-round pick in the deal that netted them Harkless, who is shooting a career-best 51.0% with a 37.9% three-point rate so far.

As a reliable three-and-D option for the Clippers, Harkless probably isn’t on the trade block. However, he’s also the only mid-level type player on the roster who would realistically be expendable if L.A. wanted to acquire another piece.

Lou Williams ($8MM) and Montrezl Harrell ($6MM) aren’t going anywhere, and it seems relatively safe to assume Patrick Beverley ($12.3MM) and Ivica Zubac ($6.5MM) aren’t either. That leaves Harkless as the only other player on the books with a cap hit between $5MM and 32MM. Throw in the fact that he’s on an expiring contract and he’s the most logical salary-matching piece the Clippers have.

Of course, there’s a decent chance the Clippers simply stand pat at the deadline and hope that possible reinforcements emerge in the following weeks on the buyout market. In that scenario, Harkless is a good bet to finish the season with the club.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Western Notes: Hield, Kings, Grizzlies, Poole

As the Kings mull over whether to offer fourth-year guard Buddy Hield a contract extension, Hield has received strong praise from a major voice in the organization: De’Aaron Fox.

“Everybody deals with their own, so it’s something I worry about, but obviously I want to continue to play with a guy like that,” Fox said, according to James Ham of NBC Sports California. “For me, just hopefully they get it done.”

Hield has expressed interest in signing an extension with the Kings, and the 26-year-old hasn’t demanded a max-salary offer to this point, according to Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. He averaged a career-high 20.7 points, five rebounds and 2.5 assists per game last season, appearing in all 82 contests.

“As a player, you want to have that trust that the franchise has your back and we’re just waiting for them to make a move and come to an agreement,” Hield said last week. “They’re talking, but nothing is moving yet. Nothing has moved. I’m ready to make things happen, man. I want to make Sacramento my home. I’m ready to get this s— done. I want to be here and if it doesn’t happen, then things can go the other way.”

Hield, who would become a restricted free agent next summer if the two sides fail to reach an extension, is due to make $4.8MM with the Kings this season. The deadline for teams to reach decisions on rookie-scale extensions is October 21.

Here are some other notes from the Western Conference:

  • Kings forward Trevor Ariza underwent a successful procedure to remove a lipoma from his back last week, the team announced, as relayed by James Ham (Twitter link). He is expected to miss the remaining two preseason games and be reevaluated after the Oct. 16 game against Melbourne United. Sacramento also announced that Harry Giles (sore left knee) is expected to miss the rest of the preseason after an Sept. 30 MRI revealed no new findings on the injury.
  • Michael Wallace of NBA.com evaluates where every Grizzlies player stands as the team crosses the halfway mark of the preseason. Wallace examines the likes of No. 2 overall pick Ja Morant, veteran forward Jae Crowder, third-year guard Dillon Brooks and more.
  • The Warriors’ overall confidence in rookie guard Jordan Poole is gradually beginning to grow, Monte Poole of NBC Sports writes. “He’s really advanced,” Draymond Green said of his teammate on Thursday, moments after Poole scored 19 points in 21 minutes against the Timberwolves. “He’s very good with the basketball and he can shoot it, which is obviously at a premium in this league today. But he can really create shots for himself and can really stretch and space the floor out.”

Kings Notes: Ariza, Centers, Dedmon

Trevor Ariza, who joined the Kings this summer on a two-year, $25MM contract, understands he might not get a chance to see the type of minutes he’s accustomed to while in Sacramento, given the club’s crowded frontcourt.

“As a player, as a competitor, you always believe you can compete at any level, against anybody and I’m one of those players that feels that way,” Ariza told James Ham of NBC Sports. “But I also understand that this is a team sport and a team game and whatever works best for the team is the road that you have to play.”

Here’s more from Sacramento:

  • In the same piece, Ariza spoke about why he choose the Kings in free agency. “The main reason I chose Sacramento is because it’s closer to home for me, I’m familiar with the coaching staff and I believe in what [head coach] Luke [Walton] has to offer and what he’s doing,” said Ariza, who was raised in Los Angeles.
  • In a separate piece, Ham writes that the Kings’ center position will have its share of healthy competition. “We can go with [Dewayne Dedmon] who can space the floor for us, which can allow [De’Aaron Fox] to have that funnel right to the paint as often as we need him to,” Walton said. “We’ve got [Richaun Holmes], who is one of the most dynamic rollers in-game to play at the five. We have Harry [Giles], who is one of the best playmakers on our team from what I can tell from last year.”
  • Dedmon signed a three-year, $40MM contract with the Kings and the big man believes Sacramento’s offensive approach fits his game well. “This definitely fits my style of play,” Dedmon said. “Fast, get up and down, run, it’s going to be fun.”

Pacific Notes: Ballmer, Ariza, Caruso, Howard

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer invested $100MM in the city of Inglewood, California this week, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com.

The investment was created as part of the city’s new arena development agreement, with the Clippers labeling it as the largest funding commitment for community programs related to a sports or entertainment venue in California.

“We’re close to a residential neighborhood and we are being very mindful,” Ballmer told ESPN in July about building a potential arena in Inglewood. “Investing well into the community, being a good citizen of the community. No homes need to get moved but we need to be a good neighbor.”

Ballmer’s proposal for a new Clippers arena, according to Youngmisuk, would include a corporate headquarters, team training facility, sports medicine clinic and much more.

“I want it to be beautiful,” Ballmer said. “But I want it to be about basketball. I want it to be comfortable. But I want it to be about basketball.”

There’s more today out of the Pacific Division:

  • James Ham of NBC Sports Sacramento examines how Trevor Ariza could fit in a crowded Kings rotation this season. Ariza, a veteran 3-and-D forward, signed a two-year, $25MM deal to join the Kings in free agency this past summer.
  • Mike Trudell of Lakers.com discusses several Lakers-related items in his mailbag, including the possibility of Alex Caruso starting at point guard this season. Caruso was better than Rajon Rondo while playing alongside LeBron James last season, though head coach Frank Vogel also has the option of testing Quinn Cook at starting point guard in training camp.
  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com examines whether former All-Star Dwight Howard could help solve the Lakers‘ depth issues at the center position. Howard is expected to fill in the role that injured center DeMarcus Cousins was supposed to fill before tearing his ACL, likely playing back-up center behind JaVale McGee to start the season and controlling the team’s interior presence on defense.

Contract Details: Porter, Rozier, Spurs, Kings, Raptors

For the first time in several years, a first-round pick has accepted below the standard maximum of 120% of his rookie scale amount, tweets Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights. According to Siegel, No. 30 overall pick Kevin Porter Jr. will only earn 80% of his rookie scale amount during his first season and will continue to get less than 120% of the rookie scale amount in years two through four.

The rookie scale amount this year for the No. 30 pick is $1,613,700, so Porter’s expected salary for his rookie season would have been $1,936,440. Instead, he’ll get just $1,290,960, according to Siegel.

[RELATED: Rookie Scale Salaries For 2019 First-Round Picks]

While this is just my speculation, it seems likely that the Cavaliers would have checked in with Porter and his agent before drafting him to see if he’d be okay with that reduced first-year salary, given how rare it is. Porter, the final pick in the first round, will still earn significantly more than the rookie minimum of $898K that many early second-rounder selections will receive, while the Cavs, who are up against the luxury-tax line, will put themselves in better position to avoid potential repeater penalties.

Here are more contract details from around the NBA, all courtesy of Siegel unless otherwise indicated:

  • Terry Rozier‘s three-year, $56.7MM contract with the Hornets has a declining structure (Twitter link). It starts at $19.9MM in 2019/20 before eventually dipping to $17.9MM by 2021/22.
  • The base value of Rudy Gay‘s two-year deal with the Spurs is $28MM, with $2MM in annual bonuses to bring the potential total value up to $32MM (Twitter link). DeMarre Carroll‘s deal, meanwhile, only has a partial guarantee of $1.35MM in the third year (Twitter link). The Spurs tacked on that third season when they pivoted to acquiring Carroll via sign-and-trade rather than signing him outright.
  • Trevor Ariza‘s two-year, $25MM contract with the Kings only has a $1.8MM partial guarantee in year two (Twitter link). Meanwhile, Sacramento’s deal with Dewayne Dedmon has a base value of $40MM over three years, with $300K in annual incentives (Twitter link).
  • Blake Murphy of The Athletic provides details on a pair of Raptors contracts, tweeting that Patrick McCaw‘s new two-year deal is worth $8MM, while Matt Thomas‘ three-year, minimum-salary contract is non-guaranteed in year three. Both of those deals will come out of Toronto’s mid-level exception — Stanley Johnson‘s might too, though if the team has plans in mind for the rest of the $4.36MM on its MLE, Johnson could be signed using the bi-annual exception instead, notes Murphy.

Kings Sign Trevor Ariza

JULY 7: The Kings have officially signed Ariza, according to a press release.

JUNE 30: Free agent Trevor Ariza plans to sign a two-year, $25MM contract with the Kings, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The second season of the deal contains a partial guarantee, as reported by The Athletic’s Sam Amick.

Sacramento also reached agreements with forward Harrison Barnes and center Dewayne Dedmon at the start of free agency. Barnes was awarded a four-year, $85MM deal, while Dedmon was given a three-year deal worth $41MM.

Ariza, who is celebrating his 34th birthday today, averaged 12.5 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 3.7 APG last season in 69 total games for the Suns and Wizards. He was dealt from Phoenix to Washington early in the season after spending the previous four years with the Rockets.