Trey Lyles

Southwest Notes: Harden, Lyles, Mavs, Ingram

Around the time that Mike D’Antoni and Daryl Morey departed the Rockets this fall, James Harden approached team management and ownership with a mandate to either build a championship team around him or trade him somewhere where he could win a ring, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

As Iko observes, this isn’t the first time that Harden has approached the Rockets with that sort of mandate. Sources tell The Athletic that the former MVP told the front office the same thing last year, which ultimately led to the Chris Paul/Russell Westbrook trade. That aligns with a 2019 report which suggested that Harden issued a “him or me” ultimatum to the club regarding Paul.

While it remains to be seen how the Harden situation will play out this time around, the fact that the Rockets were able to navigate a similar quagmire in 2019 helps explain why the team has confidence that it can once again sell the superstar guard on the outlook in Houston.

For more on the Harden situation, check out our roundup from earlier this morning. Here are a few more items from around the Southwest:

  • Spurs forward Trey Lyles is entering a contract year and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2021, but he can envision himself in San Antonio beyond this season, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). I am very comfortable here,” Lyles said. “It is the perfect situation for me, perfect situation for the player I am, the player I see myself being and becoming. I would love to be able to stay here long term.”
  • The Texas Legends – the Mavericks‘ G League affiliate – are among the teams expected to opt out of the proposed G League bubble in Atlanta, sources tell JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors (Twitter link).
  • The Mavericks targeted James Johnson this offseason in large part because of his toughness, but he feels as if he can bring more than that to the team, as Dwain Price of Mavs.com writes. “I know what I can bring, I understand why they brought me here,” Johnson said. “I feel it was more than just the toughness and the black belt, but I’m able to play whatever role that’s thrown my way.”
  • The trade kicker on Brandon Ingram‘s new five-year contract with the Pelicans is the maximum allowable 15%, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

Spurs’ Trey Lyles Out For Summer Due To Appendectomy

The Spurs‘ frontcourt depth has taken another hit, with head coach Gregg Popovich announcing on Wednesday that power forward Trey Lyles will be sidelined for the summer due to appendicitis (link via Paul Garcia of Project Spurs). The club confirmed in a press release that Lyles underwent an appendectomy earlier today.

San Antonio had already been missing its go-to big man, having ruled out LaMarcus Aldridge for the rest of the season after he underwent shoulder surgery. Lyles had been expected to take on a larger role with Aldridge on the shelf.

Lyles, who signed with the Spurs last summer, averaged 6.4 PPG and 5.7 RPG on .446/.387/.733 shooting in 63 games (53 starts) this season. He played 20.2 minutes per game, while Aldridge averaged 33.1 MPG, so San Antonio will have plenty of minutes to make up in its frontcourt.

As Garcia notes, the Spurs will now have to rely on the likes of Jakob Poeltl, Rudy Gay, Luka Samanic, Drew Eubanks, Chimezie Metu, and recently-signed big man Tyler Zeller up front. They’ll enter the restart four games back of the eighth-seeded Grizzlies. They’ll need to pass the Trail Blazers, Pelicans, and Kings in the standings to force a play-in tournament for the No. 8 spot.

Meanwhile, Lyles is under contract for the 2020/21 season, but only $1MM of his $5.5MM salary is guaranteed. Although he isn’t necessarily a lock to be retained, that looks like a reasonably team-friendly price for a regular rotation player.

Southwest Notes: Holiday, Covington, Doncic, Lyles

Pelicans shooting guard Jrue Holiday was excited to remain in New Orleans through the trade deadline this season, as he explained to The Athletic’s William Guillory. The 29-year-old Holiday, considered one of the best defensive guards in the league, is on the third year of a fairly reasonable five-year, $126MM contract.

Holiday held appeal for several contending teams looking to shore up their backcourt ahead of a playoff push, including the Heat and Nuggets. The Pelicans themselves are just 4.5 games out of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. With 2019 No. 1 draft pick  Zion Williamson finally debuting on January 22, New Orleans valued Holiday too much to make a deal just yet.

“I feel like what we’re doing here is something promising,” Holiday told Guillory of his season with the new-look Pelicans. “Obviously with the new management and the new guys coming in, we’re fairly young but we’re all very, very hungry. What we have here, we can build together.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • New Rockets forward Robert Covington and his very reasonable four-year, $47MM contract took him from overlooked role player to highly coveted glue guy very quickly ahead of this season’s trade deadline, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle details.
  • Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle is optimistic that All-Star guard Luka Doncic will return to the court ahead of the All-Star break, according to Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). “That’s not definite, but that’s the hope,” Carlisle said.
  • The future of Spurs bench big man Trey Lyles in San Antonio is appraised by the San Antonio Express-News’ Jeff McDonald. Lyles is averaging a robust 5.3 points and 5.7 rebounds in just 18 minutes per game for the club. He has suited up 51 games, including 41 starts. The 6’9″ Kentucky alum signed a two-year, $11MM contract with San Antonio this summer. Only $1MM of his $5.5MM salary next year is guaranteed.

Southwest Notes: Rockets, Ingram, Curry, Lyles

While offseason reports of tension between James Harden and Chris Paul were viewed as one motivating factor for the Rockets‘ decision to acquire Russell Westbrook, general manager Daryl Morey has consistently denied that. Morey tells Sam Amick of The Athletic that Harden initially wanted to know if there was any way to acquire Westbrook without sending out CP3.

“Yeah, because I mean his mind is always (going) first to ‘How (can we be) completely stacked?’ So I had to sort of explain,” Morey said. “He gets it roughly, but obviously he leaves the details to us. Besides the high-level (talks) where he thought that Russ would be a great fit here, there’s not a ton of interaction after that point. He knows there’s a back and forth, just like we respect what he does I think he respects what we do and he sort of leaves the execution to us.”

While Morey spoke to Amick extensively about how that trade for Westbrook materialized and his first impressions of how the former MVP is fitting in with the Rockets, he declined to comment at all on the NBA/China controversy that was ignited by his tweet supporting Hong Kong protestors.

Here’s more out of the Southwest:

  • With Zion Williamson out to start the season, new Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram is prepared to carry more of the offensive burden, as he tells Mark Medina of USA Today. Ingram also views New Orleans as a better fit for him than the Lakers were. “I would say this is a better environment,” he said. “There are a lot of genuine people here that are pretty solid. No shame to the Lakers because they are a high-class organization. They do everything well and have a good fan base. But I like this spot.”
  • Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, who had Seth Curry on his roster last season, views the sharpshooter as a “really good fit” for the Mavericks, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.
  • Trey Lyles, who as a child extensively studied film of Tim Duncan, is thrilled to get the chance to learn from the Spurs‘ new assistant coach this season, as Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express-News details. “I was definitely nervous,” Lyles said. “Somebody that you idolized growing up, and then you’re face to face with him, able to ask him whatever you want, whenever you want? It definitely helped settle me down, just to get the first question out.”
  • Chad Smith of Basketball Insiders explores which teams might make sense as a potential trade partner for the Grizzlies in an Andre Iguodala deal.

Team Canada Dealing With Depleted Roster

Much has been made of the withdrawals from Team USA by prominent players as it prepares for the FIBA World Cup in China this summer. Team Canada has experienced similar issues.

Canada Basketball unveiled its training camp roster in a press release and many notable names are missing. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Dillon Brooks, Brandon Clarke, Luguentz Dort, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Mfiondu Kabengele, Naz Mitrou-Long, Trey Lyles, Dwight Powell, Marial Shayok, Nik Stauskas, and Tristan Thompson were among the invitees who opted not to participate.

Knicks lottery pick RJ Barrett and Nuggets guard Jamal Murray are on the roster but will only participate in training camp. Barrett is dealing with a mild calf strain, while Murray is nursing an ankle injury, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets.

Among the NBA players who are on the roster and intend to participate in the tournament are Kings guard Cory Joseph, Heat forward Kelly Olynyk, Magic center Khem Birch and Raptors big man Chris Boucher. Toronto’s Nick Nurse is the head coach of the team, which will play seven exhibition games before its FIBA opener against Australia on September 1.

Contract Details: Celtics, Matthews, T. Harris, Lyles, More

The Celtics stretched Guerschon Yabusele‘s $3MM+ cap hit for 2019/20 when they waived him last week in order to create a little extra room under the cap, tweets Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights. While that decision may seem curious, it helped allow Boston to complete a couple less glamorous signings.

For one, the Celtics’ new two-year deal with French center Vincent Poirier isn’t worth the minimum, but rather has a value of $4.65MM over two years, per Siegel (Twitter link). Poirier’s deal starts at around $2.27MM, which wouldn’t have been possible without cap space, since the team has already committed its full room exception to Enes Kanter.

Meanwhile, second-round pick Carsen Edwards also benefited from the Celtics’ leftover cap room. According to Siegel (Twitter link), the former Purdue standout will earn $1,228,026 in his rookie season, rather than the rookie minimum of $898,310. By using their cap room, the C’s were also able to lock up Edwards to a four-year contract.

Here are some details on a few more contracts that were recently made official:

  • Wesley Matthews‘ new minimum-salary contract with the Bucks includes a second-year player option, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Tobias Harris has a trade bonus in his five-year contract with the Sixers, according to Siegel (Twitter link). That bonus will be worth either $5MM or 5% of the remaining money left on his contract (whichever is lesser). The bonus can’t exceed Harris’ maximum salary.
  • Trey Lyles‘ two-year, $11MM contract with the Spurs has a partial guarantee of just $1MM for the second year, tweets Siegel.
  • No. 42 overall pick Admiral Schofield got a three-year contract from the Wizards with the first two years guaranteed and a $300K guarantee on year three, tweets Siegel. According to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link), Schofield’s deal starts at $1MM in his rookie season.
  • The three-year, minimum-salary contract for Raptors second-round pick Dewan Hernandez has a $500K partial guarantee on year one, and is non-guaranteed for years two and three, tweets Siegel.

Spurs Sign Forward Trey Lyles

JULY 12, 5:41pm: The signing is official, according to a team press release.

JULY 11, 6:39pm: The Spurs have reached a contract agreement with free agent forward Trey Lyles, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). It’ll be a two-year deal, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Jabari Young of The Athletic adds (via Twitter) that it’ll be worth about $11MM in total.

Lyles will be joining the Spurs in place of Marcus Morris, who tentatively agreed to a two-year, $19MM contract with San Antonio but will instead be signing a one-year, $15MM deal with New York. Wojnarowski suggests that the Spurs pulled their offer to Morris, but the veteran forward had reportedly been re-evaluating his options for at least a couple days.

Lyles is coming off a down year in Denver, having posted just 8.5 PPG and 3.8 RPG with a shooting line of .418/.255/.698 in 64 games (17.5 MPG). However, he flashed promising stretch-four potential in 2017/18, when he posted marks of 9.9 PPG and 4.8 RPG on .491/.381/.706 shooting.

The Nuggets originally tendered him a qualifying offer, but rescinded that QO after they acquired Jerami Grant in a trade with the Thunder, making Lyles an unrestricted free agent.

The Spurs had initially planned on signing DeMarre Carroll using their mid-level exception, but restructured that agreement to acquire Carroll via sign-and-trade, sending Davis Bertans to Washington and opening up the full mid-level for Morris. With that deal no longer happening, I’d expect Lyles to be signed using some of that MLE, though specific terms aren’t yet known.

Lyles may not provide the same sort of immediate impact that Morris would have, but he’s still just 23 years old and his ’17/18 performance suggests he has room to improve.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nuggets Rescinding Trey Lyles’ Qualifying Offer

The Nuggets are withdrawing their qualifying offer to free agent forward Trey Lyles, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The move will allow Lyles to become an unrestricted free agent.

The timing of the decision makes sense, as word broke this morning that the Nuggets would acquire Jerami Grant in a trade with the Thunder. Grant figures to play most of the power forward minutes that Lyles would have seen if he had returned to Denver. Instead, the 6’10” Canadian will likely sign with another team that might be positioned to give him a larger role.

The 12th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Lyles had his best year as a Nugget in 2017/18, when he averaged 9.9 PPG and 4.8 RPG with a .491/.381/.706 shooting line in 73 games (19.1 MPG). However, he took a step backward this past season, as those numbers slipped to 8.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG and .418/.255/.698 shooting.

Despite his struggles in 2018/19, the Nuggets issued Lyles a qualifying offer worth about $4.49MM this summer, which made him a restricted free agent and gave Denver the right of first refusal if he had signed an offer sheet with a rival suitor. Having decided not to accept that one-year qualifying offer, the former Kentucky Wildcat will now get the opportunity to try to top it on the open market.

Nuggets Extend Qualifying Offer To Trey Lyles

The Nuggets remain busy ahead of free agency. Denver exercised the $30.35MM team option on Paul Millsap earlier today and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets that the team will extend a qualifying offer to Trey Lyles.

Lyles’ qualifying offer comes in at approximately $4.46MM. After exercising Millsap’s option, the team won’t sniff any available cap space, though they still have to be wary about staying below the tax line.

Lyles came to the Nuggets during the 2017 draft as part of a trade that allowed the Jazz to move up to No. 13 overall. Utah selected Donovan Mitchell with the pick and Denver came away with Tyler Lydon at No. 24.

During his two years in Denver, Lyles played 137 games, starting four contests. His showcased solid three-point shooting to begin his career, though he hasn’t matched or surpassed his career-high 38.3% from behind the arc since his rookie season.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Western Conference

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. With the playoffs in full swing, we turn our attention to the Western Conference:

Trey Lyles, Nuggets, 23, PF (Down) — Signed to a four-year, $10.4MM deal in 2015
Following an uninspiring regular season, Lyles has been a forgotten man in the postseason. He’s only made three cameos as coach Michael Malone has gone with a nine-man rotation with Mason Plumlee serving as the primary big man off the bench. Denver can make him a restricted free agent by extending a $4,485,665 qualifying offer, though his cap hold is $10.1MM. With hopes that Michael Porter Jr. can play next season, it’s no sure thing that Lyles will get that offer. Whether the team picks up Paul Millsap‘s $30MM option – or brings him back at a reduced rate – will also impact Lyles’ future in Denver.

Rodney Hood, Trail Blazers, 26, SG (Up) — Signed to a one-year, $3.47MM deal in 2018
No free agent has boosted his stock in the conference semifinals more than Hood, who is a big reason why Portland’s still alive. He poured in 25 points in Game 6 against Denver and has scored at least 14 points in five of the six games in the series. He drained crucial shots in the fourth overtime of the Blazers’ epic 140-137 victory in Game 3. This is same guy who averaged 3.2 PPG in the first-round series against Oklahoma City. Whether he receives offers as a starter or sixth man, Hood will get paid handsomely this summer.

Iman Shumpert, Rockets, 28, SG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $40MM deal in 2015
Shumpert is making $11MM this season. No one is going to pay him that much on the open market anymore, but after battling injuries the past two seasons, he has once again become a valuable role player. While he barely got off the bench in the first-round series against Utah, he has been a factor in the last three games against Golden State. Shumpert has averaged 8.7 PPG in 18.3 MPG while going 7-for-13 beyond the arc during that span. He’s also helped to contain the Splash Brothers. Shumpert shouldn’t have too much trouble finding work as a second-unit player.

Kevon Looney, Warriors, 23, PF/C (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $1.56MM deal in 2018
With DeMarcus Cousins and Damian Jones nursing injuries, Looney has received steady minutes during the postseason. On the star-laden Warriors, Looney’s offensive contributions have been limited to putbacks and dunks. But the 2015 first-round selection has been a factor on the boards (nine rebounds in Game 5) and at the defensive end. It’s estimated that Looney will receive offers in the $3-$5MM range, which might make him affordable for the capped out Warriors, who own his Bird Rights.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.