Troy Daniels

Troy Daniels Navigates Through Unprecedented Year In Search Of Next Opportunity

Free agent guard Troy Daniels, a seven-year veteran, has spent every season of his career on an NBA roster since going undrafted in 2013. After signing a summer league deal with Charlotte as a rookie to jump-start his career, he’s since made stops with seven teams — the Rockets, Timberwolves, Hornets (again), Grizzlies, Suns, Lakers, and – most recently – the Nuggets.

Even for Daniels, who’s grown accustomed to adjusting to new circumstances, 2020 has been an unusual year. In addition to stints with both the Lakers and Nuggets, Daniels – like others around the world – has had to navigate the coronavirus pandemic, adapting to the habits of wearing a mask and social distancing while staying ready for his next professional opportunity.

“It’s been a roller coaster ride, to say the least,” Daniels told Hoops Rumors in a phone interview. “A lot of ups and downs throughout the whole year, not just the pandemic. Literally everything. Me leaving the Lakers, heading to Denver; roller coaster ride for sure. 

“Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. My career has been built on that — being traded twice in one year, people not believing in me coming out of college — I’ve always risen to the top. I think my career’s been built on that, and I think even this year’s a testament to how I could overcome anything.”

Daniels remains an unrestricted free agent, waiting for a call to start his eighth NBA season. He’s known for being an elite shooter, averaging 6.6 points per game on 39.5% shooting from three-point range over the course of 339 career games. Perhaps his best season came in 2017/18, when he averaged 8.9 points and 20.5 minutes in 79 contests with the Suns.

Last season, Daniels signed with the Nuggets in March (a week before the league went on hiatus), playing five games with the club in the Orlando restart and another six in the playoffs.

Before joining Denver, Daniels spent half the season with the eventual champion Lakers, appearing in 41 games for the club. He earned the respect of LeBron James and Anthony Davis during his stay in Los Angeles, consulting both superstars on his decision to eventually leave the team and join the playoff-bound Nuggets.

Both the Lakers and Nuggets — who competed against each other in the Western Conference Finals — had deep backcourts. As a result, Daniels didn’t receive significant playing time from either club, but the opportunity to compete for a title was too good to pass up for the former VCU standout.

With the 2020/21 regular season around the corner, Daniels is one of several veteran players still available on the open market. The 29-year-old told Hoops Rumors he feels he can help a team seeking a “great locker room guy” who can provide stability and floor-spacing in the backcourt.

“I shoot the ball at very high level, at the highest level in the sport,” Daniels said. “And also [I’m] just a guy that’s not getting into too much trouble or anything like that. I’m not going to challenge the front office decisions or anything of that nature. I’m just a guy that comes in, gets his work in, helps the young guys out and I’m out of there. Really your ultimate vet, a pro’s pro. I’ve been doing that my whole career and even in college. I feel like I’ve built my career on being a pro’s pro.”

Daniels’ on- and off-court contributions have made an impression on his peers around the league. This past weekend, Jamal Crawford — one of the NBA’s most highly-regarded veterans — posted a message in response to a video of Daniels working out: “One of the best shooters in the NBA period. Great attitude, worker, team guy. True vet!”

Daniels also spent a significant amount of time improving his body this offseason, working to eat healthier, tracking his calories and maintaining a disciplined training routine.

My focus [this year] has been on being in a lot better shape than usual,” he said. “In previous training camps, I’m usually in shape, but I’m not in true game-shape. It’s especially hard to get in that game-shape. You can’t be in game-shape unless you’re actually playing the games, but I wanted to be over and above for this year.”

While getting into world-class physical shape has been a priority, Daniels has made an effort not to take the mental side of things – both on the court and off – for granted, and is focused on keeping a positive mindset as he prepares for his next opportunity.

“You could go to a gym and do all of that work, but if your mind’s not right or your head’s not in the right space, then [your production] will never be to the extent that you want it to be,” Daniels explained. “And, you know, meditating, taking at least an hour to have a quiet room, making sure you’re in the right space, being positive about things even if you don’t want to be — that gets me through the day. That gets me through the year across the board for everything.

“My mindset is what helps me shoot at a high level. I have to go into every game knowing that I might not play this game. But if my number gets called, I’m gonna make sure I’m ready and my mind is right, or I’m cheering my teammates on. Those types of things get you in the space needed to perform at a high level.”

Through each of the highs and lows in his career, plus any uncertainty that’s come with it, one thing has never changed in Daniels’ approach to success: staying prepared.

“It’s very, very important to stay ready,” he said. “Even if you’re in the league right now, that should be your job. There are only a handful of superstars in the NBA. The rest are guys that are role players. So you have to always be ready to go when your number’s called, even if you’re playing 15 minutes, 20 minutes or whatever the coach asks you to do. That’s something that I’ve personally built my career on: always being ready. I’ve never had the luxury to know where I want to play, but I’ve always had that luxury in my mind to say, ‘Hey, when I do get out there, I’m gonna be ready’. That’s just how I train.”

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who questions Daniels’ passion, focus or commitment. Despite his immediate future being unclear, one thing is for certain: when the call does eventually come his way, it’s safe to say he’ll be ready.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Western Notes: Wiggins, Nurkic, Daniels, Davis

Warriors coach Steve Kerr sought input from Tom Thibodeau after the team acquired Andrew Wiggins back in February, Marc Berman details in a story for the New York Post.

Thibodeau, who coached Wiggins in Minnesota from 2016-19, gave Kerr advice on how to maximize Wiggins’ game and playstyle. Golden State traded for Wiggins in a deal that shipped away D’Angelo Russell, acquiring a wing they hope can succeed alongside Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

“We had just traded for Andrew Wiggins and he was really helpful,’’ Kerr said. “I had a long conversation with [Thibodeau] about Andrew. He gave me some good advice on ways to connect with Andrew, how much he enjoyed coaching him and why. We’ve gotten to know each other over the years. [Thibodeau has] been very helpful to us.”

The Timberwolves fired Thibodeau in January of 2019 after he reportedly failed to connect with a number of his players. Wiggins didn’t appear to be one of these players, however, as Kerr explained. It’s a vital reason why Kerr was elated to hear Thibodeau’s advice, along with how he’s a proven, veteran NBA coach.

“He showed some X’s and O’s and went over some actions they ran for [Wiggins],” Kerr said. “Some of the things they were trying to do. The thing with Tom is he’s a workaholic, loves the X’s and O’s, loves breaking down film and takes great joy in it. Our staff values his opinion.’’

“What is apparent is he and Andrew had a great relationship and Andrew said that as well. I know Andrew told me he really enjoyed playing for him and appreciated his commitment. When a coach knows his stuff and gets along with his players, he’s got a great chance to succeed. I think Tom’s got a great shot.’

Here are some other notes from the Western Conference:

  • The Blazers are rallying around Jusuf Nurkic as his grandmother battles COVID-19, Jason Quick of The Athletic writes. Nurkic learned the news last week and immediately urged his grandmother to visit a hospital. “I think people don’t realize that s— is real out there, man,” Nurkic said. “We’ve been fortunate to be here and in a safe environment, being tested every day, but please … take care of yourself. Wear your damn mask … if you are outside, by yourself, do what you got to do. But if you are inside … protect people.”
  • Nuggets guard Troy Daniels discussed his time with the Lakers, his path to Denver and more in an interview with Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Daniels was waived by the Lakers on March 1 and signed with the Nuggets four days later. “Early in my years, my agent used to tell me, he said it’s always good to be wanted,” Daniels said. “It’s good to feel wanted, and I want to be where I’m wanted.”
  • The Lakers could benefit from keeping Anthony Davis active by ensuring that he gets plenty of shots, Anthony Slater of The Athletic writes. Davis scored just 14 points in the team’s loss against Toronto on Saturday, shooting just 2-of-7 from the field. However, he believes he made the right decisions based on how the Raptors were guarding him. “We didn’t shoot the ball extremely well tonight at all from the field or from 3, which kind of let them continue with their game plan of doubling me,” Davis said. “I think if we had made a couple of shots, then they would’ve definitely changed a little bit.” 

Nuggets Notes: Campus, Bol, Vonleh, Daniels

The Nuggets have yet to relay to reporters exactly how many of their players are in Orlando, according to Kendra Andrews of The Athletic (Twitter link). Bench guard Troy Daniels indicated today that between eight and ten players are currently available to the team in the Disney World campus. Thus, there may be at least seven players who have yet to join the club.

Per reporting from Monday, Gary Harris, Michael Porter Jr., and Torrey Craig number among the absent players. To the relief of all Nuggets fans, Denver superstar Nikola Jokic, who tested positive for the coronavirus while in Serbia, has already rejoined the team in Orlando for the NBA’s season restart.

There are more notes from Denver:

  • Due to the aforementioned shorthanded Nuggets roster, 7’2″ rookie center Bol Bol, who has yet to log any time with Denver this season, may make his season debut during the NBA restart, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Bol noted to reporters that he has been playing out of position during team practices due to the absences. “With not so many people, you can get placed anywhere,” Bol said. “There were some times, like today, I was playing at the three.”
  • Nuggets big man Noah Vonleh has new representation, says Singer (Twitter link). Vonleh will now be represented in all negotiations, marketing and publicity by Tandem Sports/You First Sports. Vonleh, a free agent this fall, was traded to Denver from the Timberwolves midseason, and has played sparingly (4.3 MPG) in four games for his new club.
  • New Nuggets sharpshooting guard Troy Daniels, inked to Denver just six days ahead of the league’s coronavirus-related pause, has enjoyed his tenure with the team in Orlando, according to Eric Spyropoulos of Nuggets.com. “It’s been a rollercoaster ride for me and this is an unprecedented time, so it’s tough to get used to it,” Daniels said. “But the guys have been great, coaches are great and everything’s been smooth for me.” The journeyman three-point specialist, who started the 2019/20 season with the Lakers, will be a deep-bench option on a loaded roster.

Northwest Notes: Weaver, McCollum, Daniels, Jazz

Thunder VP of basketball operations Troy Weaver turned down an interview during the second round of Chicago’s search for a new head of basketball operations because he considered it a “token offer,” tweets Marc J. Spears of the Undefeated. Someone in the Bulls organization told Weaver that Arturas Karnisovas was likely to be hired to fill the role, and he didn’t want to go through the process with little chance to get the job, Spears adds.

That contradicts a report from earlier this week suggesting that Oklahoma City declined permission for Chicago to talk to Weaver, who is African American. The Bulls came under criticism this week for seemingly not including any black candidates in their front office search.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Like many NBA players, Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum is trying to find ways to stay ready for a resumption of the season even though he doesn’t have access to a basketball court, writes Casey Holdahl of NBA.com. “I’m still working out so I’m holding out hope that we’re going to be able to come back at some point. Honestly, I have no idea, I think it’s a coin flip,” McCollum said. “… I’m continuing to put my head down and work as if we’re returning here shortly. I think that’s how you have to approach a situation like this. There’s 24 hours in a day, plenty of time for me to still get some work in, work on other sectors and things I’m interested in.”
  • Troy Daniels didn’t get an opportunity to establish himself with the Nuggets before the hiatus began, notes Arash Markazi of The Los Angeles Times. Daniels was waived by the Lakers on March 2 after agreeing to a buyout, then signed with Denver on March 5, which was six days before the season was suspended. He got into one game and played just one minute during his time with the Nuggets. “We were playing when we found out (about the shutdown) so I didn’t know if we were going to stop but we kept going, and as soon as it was over everyone was talking about it in the locker room,” Daniels said. “We were supposed to go to San Antonio that night but we went back to Denver. That’s when I knew it was serious.”
  • Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report suggests five potential trades if the Jazz can’t resolve the reported rift between Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Bailey sees the Knicks, Mavericks and Bulls as possible destinations for Gobert, while the Thunder and Nuggets may be able to swing a deal for Mitchell.

Northwest Notes: Conley, Grant, Reid, Daniels

Jazz guard Mike Conley has finally regained his health and is reminding everyone just how talented he is, Aaron Falk of NBA.com writes.

Conley recorded 25 points, five assists and three steals in a road victory over the Celtics on Friday, demonstrating his value at the point guard position.

“It’s just funny how people work,” teammate Donovan Mitchell said of Conley, as relayed by Falk. “Y’all can continue to hate and say what y’all want. I see it. I know he does, too. But that’s Mike Conley. He’s a Hall-of-Famer, one of the best to play at his position.”

Utah acquired Conley from Memphis last July in exchange for Kyle Korver, Jae Crowder, Grayson Allen, the draft rights to Darius Bazley and a protected first-round pick, solidifying its backcourt by pairing him and Mitchell together.

Conley had a slow start to the 2019/20 season, but the 32-year-old has increased his production in recent weeks as the team gears up for a playoff push. In total, he has averaged 13.9 points, 4.3 assists and 0.8 steals in 28.4 minutes per contest.

“There’s way less thinking,” Conley said of his team’s recent surge. “I’m just playing the game. After playing together for a while now, I’m feeling in charge, knowing how you can put guys in position to be successful and make plays, knowing what times in the game that I can be aggressive.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division today:

  • Nuggets forward Jerami Grant is fitting in seamlessly with the team, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes. “We’ll see how it goes in the offseason,” said Grant, who holds a $9.3MM player option for next season. “It’s definitely all situational, but I’m definitely comfortable here. I love my teammates, love the coaches, everything.”
  • The Timberwolves are rallying around rookie big man Naz Reid as he continues his impressive play, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes. “Naz is great,” teammate James Johnson said. “Right now he’s not focused on one aspect of the game, he’s doing so many things that stats won’t ever show or that fans won’t ever see. The locker room feels it. Real basketball fans feel it. I’m sure you guys feel it. He keeps doing that, his job’s going to get more and more and his responsibilities are going to be more and more and he’s going to be ready for it.”
  • Eric Spyropoulos of NBA.com examines what Troy Daniels could bring to the Nuggets, with Denver signing the 28-year-old to a contract this past week. Daniels, known as a valuable three-point threat during his NBA career, is expected to provide depth off the bench as the Nuggets gear up for a postseason run.

Nuggets Sign Troy Daniels

MARCH 5: The Nuggets have officially signed Daniels, the team announced today in a press release.

MARCH 4: Denver is finalizing a deal with former Lakers guard Troy Daniels, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Daniels was waived by L.A. on Sunday night after he and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, worked out a deal with the team. He cleared waivers earlier today. Daniels is a career 39.7% shooter from 3-point range and will give the Nuggets another deep threat off the bench. He will be eligible for the playoffs because he was waived by the March 1 deadline.

Denver was able to sign Daniels with the money it saved when Jordan McRae was claimed by the Pistons, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link). Daniels will make $481K over the rest of the season and the Nuggets will have a $385K cap hit. That salary is in addition to the $2MM he receives from the Lakers.

Daniels averaged 4.2 PPG in 41 games with the Lakers after signing a minimum-salary contract last summer. Denver will be his seventh team in a seven-year career.

Lakers Waive Troy Daniels

5:58pm: The Lakers have officially waived Daniels, the team announced in a press release.

5:35pm: The Lakers are releasing veteran guard Troy Daniels, agent Mark Bartelstein tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

According to Wojnarowski, the two sides had been working on an agreement that would give Daniels a chance to find an opportunity with a new team, with the Lakers opening up a spot on their 15-man roster. Head coach Frank Vogel, confirming the move, said that releasing Daniels was a “very, very tough decision” for the Lakers, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link).

“(Lakers executives) Rob (Pelinka) and Kurt (Rambis) were fantastic in giving Troy optionality based upon all the scenarios that could play out in the coming weeks,” Bartelstein told Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Daniels signed a one-year, minimum-salary contract with Los Angeles last summer and played a modest role for the club this season, averaging 4.2 PPG and 1.1 RPG on .392/.357/.625 shooting in 41 games (11.1 MPG). The 28-year-old was considered a strong locker-room presence, but wasn’t part of the Lakers’ rotation as of late, having logged just 10 minutes in the team’s last six games, including four DNP-CDs.

March 1 is the last day that a player can be waived and retain his postseason eligibility. Since he’s being released today, Daniels can still participate in the playoffs if he signs with a new team between the time he clears waivers and the end of the regular season.

As for the Lakers, Vogel said today that they don’t have any specific player lined up for their newly-opened roster spot, per Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). Having an opening on the 15-man roster will give the team some options going forward though. Our look at the 2020 buyout market includes a few names that may be of interest to the Lakers.

Wojnarowski confirms (via Twitter) that L.A. still intends to meet with Dion Waiters this week, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be the one replacing Daniels on the roster. Woj suggests Pelinka will be patient, since the Lakers may want to retain their roster flexibility in case an injury occurs down the stretch.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Western Notes: Kuzma, Carmelo, Daniels, Rockets, Rosas

With Carmelo Anthony still unsigned nearly six weeks after the start of free agency, Anthony has received strong support from a rather surprising source this week: Kyle Kuzma.

Kuzma, who is entering his third season with the Lakers, a team that’s been linked to Anthony for several months, firmly believes that Anthony belongs on an NBA roster and is better than many players who currently hold roster spots.

“Melo is easily better than half the league right now,” Kuzma said, according to Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times. “There’s no question about it. He should be on a team right now. He’s still one of the best players. The slander people throw at him is something I don’t really understand. Maybe that’s just the way today’s society is right now.

“It would be great to see him in L.A., but I don’t make those decisions. That’s up to [Lakers GM] Rob [Pelinka] to make those decisions as far as what he thinks is best for the Lakers. He’s done a great job so far putting this team together.”

The Lakers expressed exploratory interest in Anthony last season, but ultimately decided against signing the 35-year-old to a contract. Anthony last played in an NBA game during November of 2018.

“I love the game too much to be away from it,” he said on ESPN’s First Take last week. “I just love the game. I train the young guys, I’m training myself, I’m in it. I got a new life to me.”

There’s more out of the Western Conference tonight:

  • New Lakers guard Troy Daniels discussed his decision to sign with the team in an interview with Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype. “I think we have the correct balance of veterans and young guys,” Daniels said of his team. “We have the guys who have been in the league a while and won championships, but we also have the young guys who are still developing like Kyle Kuzma, who is coming along really well and has tremendous upside. We have go-to stars in Anthony Davis and LeBron James. I think we have the right combination of guys on this team and I think we can go really far. Our goal is to win a championship, but first and foremost, we must make the playoffs. And once we make the playoffs, we’ll go from there. But this team could go really far and I’m really looking forward to working with all of these guys.”
  • The Rockets renounced their draft rights to Marko Todorovic, making the 27-year-old center an unrestricted free agent, according to RealGM’s transactions page. Todorovic was the 45th overall pick in the 2013 draft.
  • Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski recently praised Wolves president Gersson Rosas, who accepted his new job with the organization back in May. “He’s a completely trustworthy guy,” Krzyzewski said of Rosas, according to Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune. “When you’re building a winning culture, one of the main things you need is trust,” Krzyzewski said recently. “You have to believe a person. You can believe him in an instant. If he says it, it is going to happen.” Rosas was the international player personnel scout on Team USA in 2016, with Krzyzewski serving as head coach at the time.

Western Notes: Smith, Cuban, Fertitta, Daniels, Clarke

The Lakers are unlikely to sign shooting guard J.R. Smith once he clears waivers, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The Cavaliers cut Smith loose on Monday after failing to find a trade partner. The lack of interest shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the Lakers have signed shooting guards Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Troy Daniels in free agency.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been fined $50K by the league for leaking information from the Board of Governors meeting, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reports. Cuban revealed the vote to allow coaches to challenge an official’s ruling next season.
  • The league has also fined Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta $25K for making public comments about the Russell WestbrookChris Paul swap before it was officially completed, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.
  • Troy Daniels chose the Lakers over the Warriors and Thunder, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets. Daniels was wooed by Anthony Davis during the decision-making process. Daniels signed a one-year, minimum salary contract.
  • Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke, the 21st player selected in the draft, has been named the Las Vegas Summer League MVP, David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal relays. Clarke averaged 14.7 PPG and 9.8 RPG in 22.0 MPG over six games.

Lakers Sign Troy Daniels To One-Year Deal

JULY 7: Daniels’ one-year, minimum-salary contract is now official, the Lakers announced today (via Twitter). The team confirmed most of its other signings – as well as the Anthony Davis trade – on Saturday.

JULY 1: The Lakers and free agent shooting guard Troy Daniels have agreed to a one-year contract, agent Mark Bartelstein tells Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). David Aldridge of The Athletic first reported (via Twitter) that the two sides were closing in on an agreement.

Charania pegs the value of the deal at $2.1MM, which suggests it’s a minimum-salary contract. As such, it won’t have an impact on Los Angeles’ projected cap room.

Daniels, who will turn 28 later this month, averaged 6.2 PPG on .411/.381/.783 shooting in a part-time role (14.9 MPG) for the Suns last season. He’s a career 40.0% shooter from beyond the arc, so he’ll add some floor spacing to the Lakers’ roster without breaking the bank.