Washington Wizards

Woj: Butler Trade To The Celtics Still Possible

A potential trade sending Jimmy Butler from the Bulls to the Celtics will loom over deadline week, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link).

In a video interview, Wojnarowski says the teams have discussed a deal involving Butler, but talks haven’t progressed very far. He adds that Chicago officials have to to fully commit to the rebuilding process before they would be willing to give up Butler.

Wojnarowski says the trade would involve one of the Nets’ first-rounders — but probably not both — that Boston owns in the next two drafts. If the Bulls get this year’s pick, Wojnarowski states they can find a replacement for Derrick Rose, who was traded to the Knicks last summer. Washington’s Markelle Fultz and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball are point guards mentioned as likely choices at the top of the draft.

Teaming Butler with Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford would give the Celtics enough firepower to challenge Cleveland for supremacy in the East, Wojnarowski states, not just this season but for years to come.

Other highlights from the interview:

  • The Clippers and Thunder are both potential landing spots for Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler. However, both teams are low on draft picks and may not have the assets that Denver would want in return.
  • The Thunder were trying to acquire Kings forward Rudy Gay before a season-ending Achilles injury.
  • The Wizards would like to add another wing player to their bench, with the LakersLou Williams and the NetsBojan Bogdanovic as possibilities. Wojnarowski says Washington is willing to part with a draft pick to get veteran help.
  • The Suns have been shopping P.J. Tucker, Tyson Chandler and Brandon Knight, hoping to get picks or young players in return.
  • Chandler is one of several centers on the market, along with the SixersJahlil Okafor, the MavericksAndrew Bogut, the BucksGreg Monroe and the NetsBrook Lopez. However, there is limited interest in back-to-the basket centers. Wojnarowski speculates that one or two of them may be traded this week, but cautions that there aren’t enough buyers for all of them to be moved.
  • Unless something changes, Carmelo Anthony will remain with the Knicks. New York management hasn’t presented him with any deals that would tempt him to waive his no-trade clause. Most of the teams that were interested in dealing for Anthony are now “looking in other directions,” but Wojnarowski thinks the Clippers might revisit their attempt to land Anthony this summer.

Mahinmi Seeks Rhythm Following Return; Smith Sees Role Change

  • After missing 50 games for the Wizards through the first four months of the season, Ian Mahinmi isn’t about to take time off during the All-Star Break, writes Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic. The big man inked to a four-year, $64MM deal over the summer has been on a minutes restriction and will look to get himself back into a rhythm in the second half.
  • The return of Ian Mahimi has eaten into backup center Jason Smith‘s minutes but the consummate professional made an impression while filling in for the injured big man. “What he’s done the last two or three months is what he’s done his entire career and he’s been terrific,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks tells Candace Buckner of the Washington Post. Smith has averaged close to 14 points and 9 rebounds per 36 minutes so far this season.

Southeast Notes: Battier, Beal, Ibaka, Ross, Mahinmi

Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel wondered if Shane Battier, recently hired as the Heat‘s Director of Basketball Development and Analytics, will eventually assume leadership of the franchise from Pat Riley. For the interim, Winderman writes, Battier’s position will be the “first step” toward a post-Riley front office. Battier will work alongside Andy Elisburg and Nick Arison, executives with an advanced “business-of-basketball” acumen. While there is no reason to believe Riley is ready to step away from the game, Winderman could see Riley moving into a role similar to Jerry West’s with the Lakers; an executive board member who isn’t accountable for mundane, day-to-day front office operations.

More from around the Southeast…

  • Jared Dudley of the Suns stuck up for his former teammate, claiming Bradley Beal was snubbed of an All-Star roster spot. “The @NBA tells us players that winning matters! Wizards are the hottest team in the NBA! Bradley Beal is healthy and balling!”, Dudley tweeted on Thursday. (Twitter link) Keely Diven of CSN Mid-Atlantic argued that Carmelo Anthony received the All-Star nod due to his ability to attract media attention. Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today gave further insight to ‘Melo’s selection, noting that Anthony received more votes from coaches than Beal.
  • Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders described it as “a little obvious” that Serge Ibaka did not bond with his teammates in Orlando. Ibaka, who was dealt to Toronto on February 14, didn’t mesh with the playing styles of Orlando’s younger players (Twitter link). By Kyler’s account, it seems that Ibaka’s teammates “had real issues” with the 27-year-old, and welcomed a change.
  • Terrence Ross told Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders that he embraced the “fresh start” in Orlando. “I was kind of aware that something could have been happening before the deadline so it wasn’t too shocking,” Ross said. “At the same time, being drafted to a team and playing for one team, it’s a little different, but I’m enjoying the process. It’s a good opportunity. It’s a new fresh start for me and I’m looking forward to it. I just kind of hope we can bring some of that experience I got in Toronto and bring it here, and really just helping wherever I can.” Ross, who has averaged 10.4 points through 54 games in 2016/17, is in the first season of a three-year, $31.5MM contract.
  • Jason Smith will likely see a dip in minutes as the Wizards ease Ian Mahinmi into the lineup, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post writes. Smith, who has averaged 7.8 points with 4.8 rebounds over his last six games, has been a serviceable back-up to starter Marcin Gortat“What he’s [Smith] done the last two or three months is what he’s done his entire career and he’s been terrific,” said Coach Scott Brooks. “But if you have a good team, everybody’s going to have to sacrifice. It’s not just Jason, starters are going to have to sacrifice.”

Trade Deadline Outlook: Southeast Division

In the days leading up to the February 23 trade deadline, Hoops Rumors will be taking a closer look at each of the NBA’s 30 teams, by division. We’ll be identifying each team as a buyer, seller, or something in between, and discussing which teams and players are most likely to be involved in deals this month. We’ve already covered the Atlantic and Northwest. Today, we’re examining the Southeast.

Buyers:

The Wizards (33-21) have been one of the NBA’s best teams since the first 10 games of the 2016/17 season, but their roster probably isn’t quite deep or talented enough to match up to a healthy Cavaliers squad in the playoffs. Washington doesn’t exactly have a huge collection of promising young players to dangle in trade talks, but the team does have all of its future first-round picks, and could use at least one of them to strengthen its rotation. A deal similar to last year’s Markieff Morris acquisition wouldn’t move the needle enough to make the Wizards conference favorites, but it would make the club a little more dangerous in the postseason without mortgaging much of its future.

The Southeast’s second-place team, the Hawks (32-24), looked like sellers a month ago, but the team is prepared to buy now, and has several future draft picks and expiring contracts to dangle in trade discussions. As some observers have pointed out, Atlanta actually looks like a good fit for Carmelo Anthony, matching up better as a trade partner for the Knicks than most of Carmelo’s preferred destinations. Anthony’s no-trade clause makes a move to the Hawks extremely unlikely though, so the team will have to look elsewhere for scoring help on the wing or in the backcourt.

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Knicks, Lakers Top Forbes’ NBA Franchise Valuations

The Knicks have been one of the NBA’s most dysfunctional teams this season. On the court, the team has gone just 23-33, with $72MM man Joakim Noah failing to make a significant impact, and Jeff Hornacek and Phil Jackson not always on the same page when it came to the use of the triangle. Off the court, things have been even worse, with Jackson criticizing star forward Carmelo Anthony, and owner James Dolan at odds with former Knicks star Charles Oakley.

On the west coast, the Lakers haven’t been much better, racking up a 19-38 record, good for the No. 14 seed in the West. The team hasn’t made as many off-court headlines, but the structure of the front office is currently up in the air, with new advisor Magic Johnson publicly declaring that he wants to be the one calling the shots on roster decisions.

Despite the problems in New York and Los Angeles, the Knicks and Lakers remain the NBA’s two most valuable franchises, according to a report from Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes. The Knicks and Lakers are the only teams valued at more than $3 billion by Forbes.

Team valuations are up around the league, with the Warriors leading the way among this year’s increases — according to Forbes, the Dubs are 37% more valuable that they were at this time in 2016. In total, 18 teams have a valuation exceeding $1 billion, which is up from 13 teams last year and just three teams in 2015. The average NBA franchise is now worth $1.36 billion, according to the report.

Here’s the full list of NBA franchise valuations, per Forbes:

  1. New York Knicks: $3.3 billion
  2. Los Angeles Lakers: $3 billion
  3. Golden State Warriors: $2.6 billion
  4. Chicago Bulls: $2.5 billion
  5. Boston Celtics: $2.2 billion
  6. Los Angeles Clippers; $2 billion
  7. Brooklyn Nets: $1.8 billion
  8. Houston Rockets: $1.65 billion
  9. Dallas Mavericks: $1.45 billion
  10. Miami Heat: $1.35 billion
  11. Cleveland Cavaliers: $1.2 billion
  12. San Antonio Spurs: $1.175 billion
  13. Toronto Raptors: $1.125 billion
  14. Phoenix Suns: $1.1 billion
  15. Sacramento Kings: $1.075 billion
  16. Portland Trail Blazers: $1.05 billion
  17. Oklahoma City Thunder: $1.025 billion
  18. Washington Wizards: $1 billion
  19. Orlando Magic: $920MM
  20. Utah Jazz: $910MM
  21. Detroit Pistons: $900MM
  22. Denver Nuggets: $890MM
  23. Atlanta Hawks: $885MM
  24. Indiana Pacers: $880MM
  25. Philadelphia 76ers: $800MM
  26. Memphis Grizzlies: $790MM
  27. Milwaukee Bucks: $785MM
  28. Charlotte Hornets: $780MM
  29. Minnesota Timberwolves: $770MM
  30. New Orleans Pelicans: $750MM

For comparison’s sake, Forbes’ 2016 valuations can be found right here.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Bazemore, Magic, Heat

Having won 16 of their last 19 games, the Wizards have moved into the No. 3 spot in the East, and look increasingly well-positioned to land home-court advantage in the first round of the postseason. While critics have pointed to Washington’s bench as an area that needs to be upgraded if the team wants to make a playoff run, J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com says there’s “ample evidence” to suggest the bench’s production has been “adequate if unspectacular.” As Michael explains, the box-score numbers for the Wizards’ second unit may not pop off the page, but the unit has been impressive defensively, particularly with Ian Mahinmi back in the mix.

Here’s more from around the Southeast division:

  • Kent Bazemore received several lucrative four-year contract offers in free agency last summer, but he had an up and down first half after re-signing with the Hawks. As Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution writes, Bazemore has turned a corner in recent weeks as he’s gotten healthy, and he’s now making good on his $70MM deal.
  • A weekend report indicated that the Magic will wait until the offseason to make a decision on the fate of general manager Rob Hennigan, but in the view of Mike Bianchi of The Orlando Sentinel, it’s an easy decision. According to Bianchi, Hennigan’s rebuild has been a failure, and he needs to go.
  • In a pair of pieces for The South Florida Sun Sentinel, Ira Winderman examines how the Heat‘s chances of landing an impact player in the 2017 draft have been affected by the team’s recent hot streak, and explores what the team might have to give up in a hypothetical Serge Ibaka trade.
  • Veteran forward James Johnson has a larger role with the Heat this season than he has ever had before in his NBA career, and he has responded with career-best production, including 12.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 3.3 APG. Shandel Richardson of The Sun Sentinel takes a look at how Johnson has thrived in an expanded role, which bodes well for the 29-year-old’s upcoming free agency.

Porter Reportedly On Top of Nets' Wish List

The Nets could land Wizards small forward Otto Porter if they offered him a max deal, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Porter will likely be at the top of the Nets’ wish list from what he’s heard around the league, Lewis continues. The Nets have the cap room to make a substantial run at the restricted free agent. Brooklyn could have as much as $39.4MM in cap room by renouncing its free agents this summer and the Wizards may be unwilling to max out Porter with nearly $97MM already ready on their books for next season, Lewis speculates.

Knicks Notes: Carmelo, Jackson, Oakley

A Wednesday report from The Vertical suggested that Phil Jackson‘s apparent efforts to push Carmelo Anthony out of New York have only strengthened the forward’s resolve to stay with the Knicks, and Marc Berman of The New York Post has heard something similar. According to Berman’s source, Anthony has told confidants that he may try to wait out Jackson, who isn’t necessarily assured of a long-term stay with the team. While Anthony has no desire to leave New York, Jackson has an opt-out clause on his contract later this year.

“He still feels it’s his team and still loves it here,” Berman’s source said of Anthony.

It’s been a busy and eventful week in New York, so let’s round up a few more Knicks-related notes:

  • One veteran NBA executive tells Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders that if the Knicks want Anthony to waive his no-trade clause, the best approach may be to start trading other veterans on the team, since Carmelo has said he’s more committed to his teammates than the front office. That same executive also wondered why the team is devaluing Anthony by making the standoff between the two sides so public.
  • Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated identifies five potential landing spots for Anthony if he decides to waive his NTC. In addition to usual suspects like the Clippers and Celtics, Spears names the Wizards, Raptors, and Hawks. However, Spears hears from a source that Atlanta doesn’t appear interested in making a major move before the deadline.
  • After being arrested at the Knicks game on Wednesday night, former NBA forward Charles Oakley told his side of the story, claiming in an interview that he was simply trying to watch the game when he was told he’d have to leave (link via Justin Terranova of The New York Post). After Oakley denied the team’s assertion that he was the instigator in the situation, the Knicks issued a second statement on the matter (via Twitter), calling Oakley’s account “pure fiction.”
  • “There are dozens of security staff, employees, and NYPD that witnessed Oakley’s abusive behavior,” the Knicks said in their statement this afternoon. Even if that’s accurate, it’s not a great look for the club to continue attacking one of its most beloved former players, and it may further discourage free agents from joining the franchise, as Reggie Miller tweets. We noted on Thursday that agents believe Jackson’s behavior will sour future free agents on the idea of joining the Knicks.
  • In the wake of this week’s incidents, Ian Begley of ESPN.com writes that the Knicks’ circus continues to find new ways to surprise and amaze.

Wizards Notes: Mahinmi, Bench, Wall, VR

Ian Mahinmi finally returned to the court for the Wizards on Wednesday, logging 12 minutes off the bench in only his second game for the team this season. Injury problems had previously limited Mahinmi to just a single game in November for Washington after he signed a four-year, $64MM deal with the club in the offseason.

Although Mahinmi’s contributions for his new team have been extremely limited so far, his ability to rebound and play defense could prove useful down the stretch. A report earlier this week indicated that the Wizards had also made Mahinmi available in trade talks, and while his injury issues and massive contract make him somewhat unappealing as a trade target, that could change over the next couple weeks if he stays healthy and plays well. Mahinmi, who told reporters last week that he feels “fixed,” will be worth monitoring going forward.

Here’s more out of Washington:

  • If the Wizards can find a way to upgrade their bench, it would significantly improve their chances to make some noise in the postseason, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. Bontemps acknowledges that Mahinmi’s return will help, but says the team probably still needs to make another move, perhaps one along the lines of last year’s acquisition of Markieff Morris.
  • Heading into the season, John Wall was recovering from surgical procedures on both knees, and it wasn’t clear whether he’d be able to have his usual impact on the court in 2016/17. Fifty games later, with Wall in the midst of his best NBA season – including career highs in PPG (23.0), APG (10.5), and FG% (.454) – Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com revisits the point guard’s journey.
  • In an engaging piece for ESPN.com, Tom Habestroh takes an in-depth look at how the Wizards are using virtual reality technology to try to help the players on their roster. “I could see a lot of NBA teams starting to use it,” Wall said. “I think it’s helping so many different ways — ballhandling, shooting, moving.”

Kennedy: Wizards Making Ian Mahinmi Available

According to Kennedy, Pacers center Al Jefferson, Wizards center Ian Mahinmi, and Magic big man Serge Ibaka are among the players believed to be available. Ibaka’s name recently surfaced in trade rumors, and it comes as no surprise that Jefferson and Mahinmi could be had in the right deal as well — Jefferson has seen his role significantly reduced this season in Indiana, while Mahinmi has barely played for Washington due to health problems.

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