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Heat Notes: Vaughn, Stoudemire, Whiteside, Robinson

At age 21, former first-round pick Rashad Vaughn is trying to salvage his NBA career, relays Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Vaughn was part of the Heat’s entry in the Las Vegas Summer League, hoping to earn another shot after being traded twice and waived twice last season.

Vaughn was taken by the Bucks with the 17th pick in the 2015 draft, but his career tailed off quickly after a promising rookie season. In February, Milwaukee dealt him to the Nets, who sent him to the Pelicans two days later. After being waived by New Orleans, Vaughn signed two 10-day contracts with the Magic, but wasn’t kept when the second one expired.

“This is kind of my journey,” Vaughn said. “I’ve got to take a look at it and see what I did wrong and go from there and continue to try to just persevere from there.”

There’s more news out of Miami:

  • Amar’e Stoudemire, who will be back in Miami this week with the Big3 League, is also hoping for another NBA opportunity, Winderman writes in a separate story. Stoudemire, 35, sat out last season after winning a championship in Israel the year before. He said he would be interested in a return to the Heat, but hasn’t spoken to anyone from the team. “As of right now, I’m showing my athletic ability and the way I move,” Stoudemire said. “I think a lot of teams haven’t really seen me play since the last time I played in Israel, so I just want them to see I have great heath and am able to be on that level. Once they see how healthy I am and how good I feel, I think teams will be able to sign me at that point.”
  • The Heat have been open about their desire to trade Hassan Whiteside, but Stoudemire believes his former teammate can succeed in Miami, Winderman adds in the same story. Stoudemire said Whiteside needs to work on his post skills this summer and become a more effective inside scorer. “You can’t be satisfied with the money and the fame; you have to be able to work to become great,” Stoudemire said. “And that’s one thing that a lot players don’t understand. You can have amazing potential, but you’re never going to reach that potential unless you put in that work.”
  • Duncan Robinson was among the biggest winners in summer league, earning a two-way contract with the Heat. Robinson quickly impressed the team with his outside shot, summer league coach Eric Glass tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. “He came in and really played well and shot it like we thought and showed us that he can do a couple other things on the court that we liked,” Glass said. “And obviously a two-way came out of that, which he really earned.”

Southwest Notes: Cousins, Rondo, Doncic, Belinelli

Pelicans GM Dell Demps made his first public comments on the loss of free agents DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo in an interview with Rod Walker of The New Orleans Advocate.

According to Demps, team officials met with Cousins on the first two days of free agency, but the two sides weren’t able to find “common ground.” Demps called negotiations with Cousins “respectful” and “cordial,” but said the uncertainty over his physical condition in the wake of a torn Achilles made it difficult to reach a deal. Cousins eventually signed a one-year contract with the Warriors for their $5.3MM taxpayer mid-level exception.

“The unknown of returning to play made it difficult for both sides to find a common ground,” Demps explained. “We enjoyed DeMarcus in New Orleans and wanted him back. We had multiple discussions with his representatives. It was just very difficult for us to find common ground.”

Rondo also headed west for a one-year contract, signing with the Lakers for $9MM after a single season in New Orleans. Demps hopes the intangibles that Rondo brought will influence other players.

“Ultimately, it was a tough situation because we had so much success with Rondo with his leadership and on-court presence,” Demps said. “We felt like we had a chemistry. Unfortunately, he’s not back. At the same time, we believe that his impact will stay with our team.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavericks made the correct move in holding first-round pick Luka Doncic out of Summer League play, writes Dwain Price of NBA.com. Doncic’s buyout with Real Madrid wasn’t finalized until Monday, and he would have faced a difficult adjustment in joining the team in Las Vegas after it had already played two games.
  • Manu Ginobili was among the first people to text congratulations to Marco Belinelli after he committed to return to the Spurs, notes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express News. That doesn’t guarantee Ginobili will be back for another season, but he’s glad to see his former teammate return after winning a title together in 2014. “We didn’t talk about [Ginobili playing], but I can say he was really happy about me coming back,” Belinelli said. “Winning a championship with that great team was amazing. Nobody is going to take that away from me.”
  • Rockets second-round pick De’Anthony Melton has turned in a standout performance in the Las Vegas Summer League, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Melton slipped to the 46th pick after not playing last season at USC, and he has looked like a steal so far. Melton struggled with his shot in the opener, but is 10 of 23 from 3-point range since then and has impressed the coaching staff with his defense and play-making.

Hoops Rumors Originals: 6/23/18 – 6/30/18

Every week, the Hoops Rumors writing team creates original content to complement our news feed. Here are our segments and features from the past seven days:

  • The Hoops Rumors writing team took a stab at ranking our Top 50 free agents of 2018.
  • In this week’s Community Shootaround post, we asked who you believe is the early favorite to win the 2019 NBA Rookie of the Year Award.
  • Arthur Hill answered several questions in his weekly mailbag, including whether the Lakers’ draft strategy assumed the arrival of LeBron James and the chances of the Jazz making a splash in free agency.
  • Before the deadline came and went, Luke Adams took a look at some notable players who had yet to make a decision on their player option.
  • Luke Adams analyzed how the annual salary cap increase affects other important CBA-related figures.
  • We introduced our 2018 NBA Offseason Trade tracker.
  • Luke Adams recapped all the players who were eligible to receive qualifying offers this offseason, with details on which players did and didn’t get them.

Sixers Swingman Justin Anderson Undergoes Leg Surgery

Sixers swingman Justin Anderson underwent surgery on his left leg Friday to address recurring tibial stress syndrome, according to a team release.

He will be re-evaluated in two weeks and once again in 6-8 weeks. The team will provide another update after the second re-evaluation.

Anderson came off the bench in 38 games last season, his third in the league. He averaged 6.2 PPG and 2.4 RPG in 13.7 MPG. Anderson began his career with the Mavericks after being selected with the No. 21 overall pick in 2015.

Anderson is still on his rookie contract and has an approximate $2.5MM guarantee next season.

Sixers Notes: Fultz, Smith Trade, GM Candidate

The Sixers’ decision to draft two guards in the first round could mean Markelle Fultz won’t be part of the future in Philadelphia, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The team acquired swingman Zhaire Smith in a trade with the Suns and took point guard Landry Shamet at No. 26, but coach Brett Brown said the selections have nothing to do with Fultz and the difficulties he encountered during his rookie year.

After being the first player taken in the 2017 draft, Fultz missed much of the season with a shoulder injury and an unexplained problem with his shooting motion. Fultz is still limited to “foundational-type” shooting drills, according to Pompey, and probably won’t join the Sixers for summer league.

The front office insists it isn’t trying to trade Fultz, but Pompey cites a report of internal discussions about moving him, along with the two first-rounders, in an effort to obtain a top five pick. Several league sources also say Fultz was available for a deal, but his performance as a rookie makes it difficult to get anything of value in return.

There’s more this morning out of Philadelphia:

  • Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated offers an inside look at the draft night deal that sent Smith to Philadelphia and Mikal Bridges to Phoenix. The Sixers turned down several offers from the Suns prior to the deal coming together just before Phoenix made its selection at No. 16. Bridges had a private workout in Philadelphia and Smith participated in two group workouts, and the Sixers considered them “1A” and “1B” as prospects who might be available with the 10th pick. When Smith fell all the way to 16th, Philly reconsidered, seeing an opportunity to stock up on future picks.
  • Brown would like to see the Sixers hire someone already in the organization as the next GM, Pompey writes in a separate story. The top internal candidate is believed to be Marc Eversley, who serves as vice president of player personnel. “I don’t think we need an overhaul,” Brown said. “We’re in deep on this. We have ways we do business. So somewhere out there, we’ll find the balance of those things that I said, and I’m sure that I’ll have a voice in the selection of the next general manager.”
  • Brown compares Smith to Spurs star Kawhi Leonard, another player who was traded on draft night, Pompey notes in another piece. Leonard is Smith’s favorite player and could wind up being a teammate if the cards fall right for the Sixers. “I think somebody said we have the same shooting mechanics,” Smith said. “So I try to do whatever move he does to get his shot off. I try to learn that.”

Draft Updates: Musa, Knox, Williams, Sixers

The Nets may be willing to package their picks to move up for Bosnia’s Dzanan Musa, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The 19-year-old small forward has spent the past week visiting teams that might be willing to use a first-round selection on him. The Nets hold the 29th pick, but may have to give up their second-rounders at 40 and 45 to get into Musa’s range.

Musa has two years remaining on his contract with KK Cedevita in the EuroLeague, but he plans to come to the NBA next season.

“I want to compete at the highest level and to compete with the best players in the world,” Musa said in an interview with CBS Sports affiliate 1430-AM in Indianapolis. “[My strength is] scoring: shooting, midrange floaters, to the rim. … I just want to get picked by the team who sees me as a project. But I think I’m a lottery pick for sure.”

There’s more draft-related news to pass along:

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Bolden, Knicks, Mozgov

The Sixers don’t have room on their roster to accommodate all six picks that they own, so expect a trade or two by draft night, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia heads into Thursday’s draft with the 10th and 26th selections in the first round, plus Nos. 38, 39, 56 and 60 in the second round.

One option is trying to package both picks along with a player to move into the top five, Pompey notes. Another is a smaller deal to inch up a couple of spots and increase the odds of landing Villanova’s Mikal Bridges. The Sixers could also swing for the fences on Kawhi Leonard, offering the Spurs the 10th pick, Markelle Fultz and either Dario Saric or Robert Covington.

Pompey cites a comment made by former Cavaliers GM David Griffin this week that the Sixers have their eyes on someone projected to be among the first five selections, adding that Luka Doncic or Michael Porter Jr. would be a good fit in Philadelphia.
There’s more from the Atlantic Division:
  • Philadelphia needs to make room on its roster for Jonah Bolden, a 2017 second-rounder who is expected to come to the NBA next season, Pompey adds in the same story. A 6’10” stretch four, Bolden played for Maccabi Tel Aviv this year in the Israel Premier League.
  • Mikal Bridges and Kentucky’s Kevin Knox would both be good fits for the Knicks, ESPN college basketball analyst Seth Greenburg tells Al Iannazzone of Newsday. Even though Kristaps Porzingis is expected to be sidelined until at least December with a torn ACL, Greenburg believes the priority should be to find a player who complements him. “You’re not winning today,” Greenberg said, “so I think you’ve got to approach it like, ‘Who will play best with Porzingis?’ You’ve got to give Porzingis something to get excited about. Who’s going to fit with him? I think Knox and Bridges can both.” He adds that the Knicks should avoid drafting another point guard, even if Trae Young or Collin Sexton is available at No. 9.
  • The agent for Timofey Mozgov has talked to the Nets about his client’s lack of playing time, but hasn’t demanded a trade or discussed a buyout, relays Brian Lewis of The New York Post. With two years and $33.7 million remaining on his contract, Mozgov is virtually untradeable, and Lewis points out that the Nets are unlikely to go through with another buyout while they’re still paying Deron Williams. “I don’t know any reason why I first lost my place in the starting five and then not playing even a minute,” Mozgov said. “But it’s the head coach’s decision and he is responsible for result. I tried to speak to [Kenny] Atkinson, but he was not able to give me an answer.”

Celtics Notes: Leonard, Irving, Draft, Summer League

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge is wary of paying a steep price for Kawhi Leonard without a guarantee that he’ll stay more than one season, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Leonard has asked for a trade out of San Antonio and the Celtics may be able to put together the best offer, but Ainge will probably be cautious, according to Washburn.

He suggests Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum would have to be part of the package, along with the rights to the Kings’ first-rounder in 2019. It might be easier to match salaries by including Gordon Hayward, but his trade value has dropped after missing the season with a severe ankle fracture.

Kyrie Irving can already opt out next season, and the Celtics might be reluctant to have two stars on their roster who could leave at the same time, especially if it means breaking up a young core that looks like it will be a contender for several years.

There’s more today from Boston:

  • Irving hopes to resume playing again “in like a month,” he said in an appearance this week on The Bill Simmons Podcast. NBC Sports Boston relayed a few of his comments, including an explanation of what it was like to deal with a knee infection that forced him to miss the entire playoffs. “I was leaving the games at halftime because I had eight-hour shifts of antibiotics I had to take for my infection,” Irving said. “I had a PICC line in my arm for two months and I’m just like… every day is like OK, I can’t necessarily lift, I can’t run, I can’t do anything. If I didn’t have my PICC line in for my infection I would have definitely tried to go after being ready for at least the Eastern Conference Finals.”
  • The Celtics have a recent history of going the draft-and-stash route late in the first round, but the overseas talent doesn’t warrant it this year, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Apart from Luka Doncic, the only foreign players with a shot at being taken in the first round are French point guard Elie Okobo and Bosnian wing Dzanan Musa, according to Blakely.
  • Guerschon Yabusele, Kadeem Allen and Jabari Bird are all expected to be part of the Celtics’ summer league team in Las Vegas, Washburn notes. Bird has a two-way contract, so Boston has to make a qualifying offer before he is eligible. Jay Larranaga will coach the team.

Five Key Stories: 6/9/18 – 6/16/18

In case you missed any of this past week’s top stories from around the NBA, we have you covered with our Week in Review. Below are some of the most noteworthy stories from the last seven days.

Spurs star Kawhi Leonard requested a trade out of San Antonio. Leonard, who can become a free agent next summer, said he has “grown uncomfortable” with the organization and wasn’t pleased with the way it handled the quad injury that limited him to nine games this season. The Lakers are Leonard’s preferred destination, but several teams are rumored to be preparing offers.

A hip strain forced Michael Porter Jr. to postpone a workout scheduled for Friday. He was eventually cleared for medical evaluations by teams in the lottery. Their view of Porter’s physical condition will go a long way toward determining where he is selected in Thursday’s draft.

The Pistons ended their coaching search by hiring former Raptors head coach Dwane Casey. Spurs assistant Ime Udoka was reportedly also a finalist for the job, and several high-profile candidates such as Michigan’s John Beilein and TNT analyst Kenny Smith were interviewed. Casey, a finalist for Coach of the Year honors, gets a fresh start after being dismissed in Toronto following a sweep in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Nick Nurse will take over Casey’s spot with the Raptors, as he was hired to fill the NBA’s final head coaching vacancy. Nurse got the final nod over Spurs assistant Ettore Messina, who was a candidate for several openings this spring. Nurse was a successful coach in Europe before coming to Toronto in 2013.

Kyrie Irving has no interest in discussing an extension with the Celtics this summer. Irving, who has a $21.3MM player option for 2019/20, said contractually, financially, it just doesn’t make any sense” to negotiate now rather than testing free agency.

Here are eight more headlines from the past week:

The WarriorsDraymond Green also isn’t ready for extension talks. He said he gave up about $12MM in his current contract to help bring Kevin Durant to the Bay Area and doesn’t want to take another discount.

The Sixers picked up options for next season on Richaun Holmes and T.J. McConnell. Both players will receive non-guaranteed $1.6MM deals before becoming free agents.

Wizards guard Jodie Meeks opted in for next season. He was set to make $3,454,500, but that amount will be reduced because he still has 19 games remaining on his 25-game suspension for violating the league’s anti-drug policy.

Also exercising his player option was Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur.  The 30-year-old, who appeared in just 19 games this season, will make $7,464,912.

The Heat tendered a qualifying offer to Derrick Jones, making him a restricted free agent and allowing the team to match any offer he receives. Because he is a two-way player, the qualifying offer was only $77K.

Raptors assistant coach Rex Kalamian is leaving the team to join Doc Rivers‘ staff with the Clippers. Kalamian had an interview to become Toronto’s head coach before Nurse was hired.

Backup point guard London Perrantes was waived by the Cavaliers. He appeared in just 14 games after signing a two-way contract in October.

The CelticsAbdel Nader had wrist surgery to take care of issues that had bothered him since he fractured it in high school.

Draft Updates: Porter, Doncic, Bagley, Bamba

Teams that had planned to attend Michael Porter Jr.‘s workout tomorrow are being told it will be held at another time, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. Porter’s representatives canceled the session late Wednesday night without providing an explanation.

The move has led to speculation that Porter’s surgically repaired back may be bothering him, but it’s also possible he has received a guarantee that would make a group workout unnecessary. Porter’s camp may be rethinking his status and devoting time just to teams at the top of the draft, according to Tom Ziller of SB Nation, who adds that they now believe he will be taken in the top four.

There’s “a very real chance” that the Kings will use their No. 2 pick on Porter, Amick adds, but it’s not certain at this point whether last night’s news will impact their decision. The organization may request more medical information and take another look at Porter in action before making a commitment.

There’s more draft-related news this morning: