Wesley Matthews

Thunder Notes: George, Abrines, Matthews, Donovan

Thunder All-Star forward Paul George will soon have his right shoulder re-evaluated by a specialist, Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman reports. GM Sam Presti told the media during his annual post-season press conference that George will see a specialist outside of Oklahoma City but Thunder staff members will be present.

George saw action in 77 regular-season games but took four games off to rest his aching shoulder. He was effective in the playoffs despite the discomfort, posting averages on 28.0 PPG, 8.2 RPG and 4.1 APG during the Thunder’s 4-1 opening-round series loss to Portland. Presti declared that George “was at no risk of any type of future injury” this season and labelled the possibility of George undergoing surgery as “speculation.”

We have more from Presti’s press conference:

  • He took the blame for not having enough sharpshooting wings on the roster, Lee notes in a separate story. Presti thought Alex Abrines would have a “breakout year” but the swingman missed 17 games for personal reasons and was ultimately waived. The Thunder pursued Wesley Matthews after the Knicks bought him out and waived him but Matthews chose Indiana. “Once Wes Matthews went to Indiana there really wasn’t a lot of other options out there, and that put some stress on us offensively, and you never want to be in that position,” he said.
  • Billy Donovan is expected to return as head coach despite the latest postseason flameout. Presti said he has yet to meet with Donovan on the subject because he wanted to give his coach more time to “reflect and decompress,” Brett Dawson of The Athletic tweets. “I do think getting his perspective on things is important because there’s nobody that works harder than him,” Presti said. “If anything, I think he needs to take some time to think through the season himself and have a really good conversation.

Pacers’ Pritchard Talks Matthews, Roster, More

While Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard makes the final call on the team’s personnel moves, a pair of Indiana’s former heads of basketball operations remain very much in the loop, Pritchard tells Steve Aschburner of NBA.com.

According to Pritchard, he works with advisors Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird on a “daily basis.” Calling both men “true mentors,” Pritchard notes that Walsh is on the office every day, while Bird gets “very involved” in the summer and fall.

Within his conversation with Aschburner, Pritchard touched on a number of other subjects, discussing the Pacers’ approach to free agency, the excellent job head coach Nate McMillan has done with the club, and Victor Oladipo‘s rehab, among other topics. For Pacers fans, the conversation is worth reading in full, but here are a few highlights from the team’s president of basketball operations:

On the sales pitch that allowed the Pacers to land Wesley Matthews last month:

“He saw opportunity, right? We needed a starting two. And there was continuity with just knowing Nate and how he coaches, his style [Matthews and McMillan were together in Portland for a season and a half]. And from what he’s told us, he saw us, he played against us and he liked the way we play. But it became a recruiting process, for sure. He had a lot of options.”

On what the Pacers have gotten out of 2018’s free agent signees (Tyreke Evans, Doug McDermott, and Kyle O’Quinn):

“They fit in nicely. They all made it clear that they wanted to come in, play a role and do it as well as they possibly could. Kyle is a great backup center, and we’ve asked him to be the third center. We’ve needed him, because Sabonis is going to be out for a little bit. McDermott, as he gets comfortable here and learns to seek out his offense, the better he’s going to be. And Tyreke, he’s had some ups and downs. But when he plays well, we’re a different team. We need that punch off the bench, and that’s something we focused on when he got him.”

On the impact of having so many free-agents-to-be on the roster:

“It’s good in that guys are pretty motivated. I’ve believed in this team. We’re going to be challenged in the playoffs and it will be fun watching them, but we’ve got to get there first. I don’t want to look too far in the future. We know we’re going to have some tough decisions this summer. But I believe 40% of the league will be free agents, so it’s not only our issue. It’s a league issue and an opportunity.”

On the Pacers’ long-standing aversion to tanking (Indiana hasn’t won fewer than 32 games in a season since 1988/89):

“You’ve got to give [team owner] Herb [Simon] a ton of credit. He’s not the kind of guy who says, ‘Let’s tank and look to the future in three years.’ We’re not about that. “

Central Notes: Cavaliers, Bucks, Matthews

Despite not projecting to be a legit contender in 2019/20, the Cavaliers have already committed a significant amount of money to player contracts — Basketball Insiders has the Cavs at over $123MM in guaranteed salaries for next season, which would put team salary well above the cap, approaching tax territory.

As Joe Vardon of The Athletic writes, the Cavaliers don’t have a probably with spending big on next year’s roster if it helps accelerate the rebuild. They’re “willing to spend to lose if it helps them win faster,” Vardon suggests. Some of those multiyear contracts Cleveland has taken on – including Brandon Knight‘s, John Henson‘s, and Matthew Dellavedova‘s – have come attached to valuable draft picks, and the Cavs are willing to continue taking on future money for assets.

However, Vardon notes that the team would very much like to stay out of tax territory next season. Because they were in the tax during LeBron James‘ last few years in Cleveland, the Cavaliers would be subject to repeater tax penalties if they end up back over that threshold this year or next, and that’s probably a bridge too far for a lottery-bound team to cross. With next year’s tax line projected to come in around $132MM, the Cavs will have to be careful about adding more money this summer.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • In a mailbag for Cleveland.com, Chris Fedor addressed a number of Cavaliers-related topics, including whether Jordan Clarkson is more likely to be a part of the club’s long-term future or a trade chip.
  • If the Bucks finalize their deal with Pau Gasol on Sunday – the earliest possible day they could sign him – the team will still be below the luxury tax threshold $546K, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. However, that figure doesn’t include $500K in unlikely incentives for Tony Snell, which he’s in position to achieve, Marks notes. That gives Milwaukee $46K in wiggle room, so the team is unlikely to make any other roster moves anytime soon.
  • Wesley Matthews, who joined the Pacers last month, has been a great fit on and off the court for the club, writes Jim Ayello of The Indianapolis Star. “That’s why we recruited him so hard,” head coach Nate McMillan said. “We knew what type of player he was. He’s a competitor, and when he steps out on that floor, he’s all out. He’s giving you everything he has. It starts for him, which you don’t see from a lot of players in the NBA, on the defensive end of the floor. He accepts that challenge of guarding the best (wing) player.”

Central Notes: Pistons, Pacers, Bulls, Knight

When they explored the market for Reggie Bullock prior to last week’s trade deadline, the Pistons had options beyond the Lakers’ offer of a second-round pick and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. According to president of basketball operations Ed Stefanski, the Pistons could have instead had two second-round picks in exchange for Bullock, but liked Mykhailiuk enough to take him in place one of those picks.

“Instead of getting two seconds, we got Svi and a second,” Stefanski said. “We know he’s a prospect. We know he can flat-out shoot the basketball and we’re excited about seeing if we can develop him. The idea of putting a name to a player and getting a second-round pick was intriguing to us as opposed to bringing in two second-round picks.”

As Langlois relays, one of the Pistons’ goals has been to acquire controllable – and cheap – players on rookie contracts, since the team’s cap is otherwise loaded with pricey veteran deals. The club achieved that goal at the deadline by landing Mykhailiuk and Thon Maker, who is one more year left on his rookie contract after this season.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders shares some details on the cash changing hands in a pair of Central trades. According to Pincus (Twitter links), the Pacers sent $110K to the Rockets in the Nik Stauskas/Wade Baldwin trade, and the Bulls received $2,610,464 from the Thunder in their trade involving Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. Chicago, which has now maxed out the cash it can receive in 2018/19 trades, will receive that money from OKC in three installments worth about $870K apiece on the first of March, April, and May, Pincus notes (via Twitter).
  • In a podcast discussion with ESPN’s Zach Lowe, Bobby Marks mentioned in passing that Khris Middleton‘s name is one the Pacers have “circled” as a potential offseason target (Twitter link via Eric Nehm of The Athletic). Re-signing Middleton will be a top priority for the Bucks, who will also see Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon, Brook Lopez, and Nikola Mirotic reach free agency.
  • The Pacers‘ style of play and the promise of a starting job were key factors in luring Wesley Matthews to Indiana, as the veteran swingman confirms to J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star.
  • Brandon Knight has barely played over the last two seasons, and has seemingly become known more for his contract than his play on the court, after the Rockets dangled him in trade talks for much of the season. Now a member of the Cavaliers, Knight tells Ben Stinar of AmicoHoops that he remains confident he can recapture his previous form. “I had a full year off, but I’m still the same player,” said Knight, who averaged 19.6 PPG as recently as 2015/16.

Pacers Sign Wesley Matthews

Free agent guard Wesley Matthews, who agreed to a buyout with the Knicks earlier this week, has signed with the Pacers, the team announced on Twitter.

New York acquired Matthews in the January 31 trade that sent Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas. He played just two games for the Knicks before parting ways with the team. The 32-year-old appeared in 44 games with the Mavericks before the trade, averaging 13.1 points per night and shooting 38% from 3-point territory.

The Pacers have a pair of roster openings, so no move was needed to add Matthews. Indiana has been looking for backcourt help since star guard Victor Oladipo suffered a season-ending injury last month.

Wesley Matthews Bought Out By Knicks, Plans To Sign With Pacers

4:14pm: The Knicks have officially waived Wesley Matthews, the team announced on social media.

2:28pm: Matthews will be bought out by the Knicks later today and intends to sign with the Pacers once he clears waivers, tweets Charania.

2:03pm: Shooting guard Wesley Matthews is expected to reach a buyout agreement with the Knicks, and the Pacers are the frontrunners to sign Matthews once he clears waivers, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Matthews is also expected to draw interest from the Warriors and Rockets and possibly other contenders, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times (Twitter link).

The Knicks are expected to retain veteran enter DeAndre Jordan, rather than buy him out. Stein adds. Jordan, who like Matthews will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, was also acquired in the blockbuster deal that shipped star big man Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavericks.

The Knicks have already been working on a buyout with disgruntled center Enes Kanter and that could be finalized as early as today, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Matthews and Kanter both have expiring $18.6MM contracts. Jordan is making $22.9MM.

Matthews, who is averaging 13.1 PPG and shooting 38% on his 3-point attempts, would be a natural fit for Indiana as it seeks to replenish its backcourt in the wake of Victor Oladipo‘s season-ending injury.

New York’s desire to keep Jordan is mainly due to his willingness to mentor their young bigs, especially rookie center Mitchell Robinson.

Trade/Buyout Rumors: Kaminsky, Vonleh, Kanter, More

The Hornets are still “pushing hard” for a taker for Frank Kaminsky and there are indications that teams are interested, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. The fourth-year center will be a restricted free agent this summer and doesn’t appear to be in Charlotte’s long-range plans.

The ninth selection in the 2015 draft, Kaminsky has only appeared in 24 games under new coach James Borrego and is averaging 5.5/2.5/1.1 in about 11 minutes per night. He has fallen completely out of the rotation over the past two months, playing just 41 minutes in Charlotte’s last 23 games.

There’s more to pass along as the deadline gets closer:

  • The Nuggets have expressed interest in acquiring Noah Vonleh from the Knicks, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN. Vonleh has been productive in New York since signing a minimum contract, averaging 8.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per night, mostly as a starter. He will be a free agent this summer. Denver has a pair of trade exceptions that Vonleh would fit into and is about $7MM under the luxury tax.
  • While Enes Kanter probably won’t be traded today, he’s expected to reach the buyout market, and rival executives believe the Celtics will be among the teams with interest in him, sources tell Begley (Twitter link).
  • Elsewhere on the buyout market front, Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link) adds the Pacers to the list of clubs that will have interest in Wesley Matthews if and when he’s bought out.
  • The Rockets, another team with potential interest in Matthews, still intend to be active on the buyout market after sneaking under the luxury tax threshold today, a source tells Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Wesley Matthews Headed For Buyout; Warriors May Be Next Stop

We noted earlier tonight that the Knicks plans to begin buyout talks with Enes Kanter if he’s not traded before tomorrow’s deadline. It appears Wesley Matthews is in the same situation and may wind up with the Warriors, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post.

Matthews was acquired from Dallas last week as part of the Kristaps Porzingis trade, but he has an $18.6MM expiring contract and there’s little reason to keep him on one of the league’s worst teams. The Knicks are still hoping to work out a trade and had some interest from the Sixers before they acquired Tobias Harris, Berman adds.

Matthews was just 2 of 11 Tuesday in what the Knicks hoped would be a showcase game, but that won’t affect his popularity on the buyout market. Several teams are expected to make a run at Matthews if he becomes available, including Golden State, which a source says is “intrigued” by the 32-year-old swingman. “The biggest thing is winning,’’ Matthews said Sunday at his introductory press conference in New York, so the interest should be mutual.

Berman adds a few notes on other players:

  • The trade market for Kanter remains light and a buyout appears to be the most likely resolution. “[Knicks GM] Scott [Perry] and I are working together, collaborating and seeing if something makes sense,” said Kanter’s agent, Mark Bartelstein. “If nothing happens [Thursday], we’ll put our heads together.’’
  • DeAndre Jordan, who was also acquired in the Porzingis deal, doesn’t expect to be traded again. He would be happy to stay in New York and serve as a mentor to rookie center Mitchell Robinson. The Knicks have told Jordan they will consider keeping him past this season and may offer him their $5MM room exception if they use all their cap space as planned.
  • Several teams have inquired about Damyean Dotson, with the Kings being the latest to call.
  • New York could have three roster spots to fill with 10-day contracts by the end of the week. The team is watching John Jenkins, whose 10-day deal with the Wizards will expire on Saturday, to see if he becomes available. Jenkins had been playing with the Knicks’ G League affiliate in Westchester before his NBA call-up.

Lawrence’s Latest: Bucks, Mirotic, Sixers, Gasol

No one seems convinced that the Bucks are a viable suitor for Anthony Davis, given their dearth of first-round picks and the fact that most of their best players are on expiring contracts. However, co-owner Marc Lasry is still encouraged by the fact that Davis’ four-team list of preferred destinations includes Milwaukee, as he tells Sporting News’ Mitch Lawrence.

“I saw that report, and I think it’s great,” Lasry said. “It’s a little bit of what we want. We want players to come and play in Milwaukee. And part of it is, when you’re winning and you’re setting a standard for excellence, people see that. People want to win. It doesn’t make a difference if you’re in Milwaukee, New York or L.A. The whole goal is winning. So we hope it would be players like Anthony Davis and others who want to come to Milwaukee.”

Lasry, who may be bordering on tampering territory with his comments to Lawrence, acknowledged that it would be tricky for the Bucks to make a deal for Davis using the club’s current assets.

Here’s more from Lawrence:

  • The Bucks are working on a smaller trade or two, according to Lawrence, who identifies Pelicans forward Nikola Mirotic as one potential target for Milwaukee. “He’d be the perfect fit for the Bucks,” an Eastern Conference general manager said of Mirotic. “Another guy who can knock down threes would make them even more dangerous.”
  • The Sixers are another team interested in Mirotic and have offered the Pelicans a pair of second-round picks for him, per Lawrence. For salary-matching purposes, Wilson Chandler would likely have to be involved in any 76ers deal for Mirotic. Philadelphia has also looked at Terrence Ross (Magic) and Wesley Matthews (Knicks), Lawrence notes.
  • An Eastern Conference GM tells Lawrence that the Spurs are making an effort to move Pau Gasol. Gasol is on a pseudo-expiring contract, as only $6.7MM of his 2019/20 salary is guaranteed.
  • Lawrence suggests that the trade market for Grizzlies big man Marc Gasol may be negatively impacted by Gasol’s desire to get a contract extension this summer. If he doesn’t feel as if he’ll get a lucrative multiyear deal in the offseason, the 34-year-old could pick up his $25.6MM player option.

Details On How Porzingis Trade Talks Played Out

In his latest newsletter for The New York Times, Marc Stein takes a deep dive into the trade that sent Kristaps Porzingis from New York to Dallas, sharing several interesting new details on the negotiations leading up to the deal itself.

Here’s a round-up of the highlights from Stein:

  • The Knicks spent a good portion of January canvassing the NBA for possible Porzingis trades, according to Stein, who hears the team was rebuffed when it inquired on potential targets like Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and Kings guard De’Aaron Fox. After devoting much of the month to possible trade scenarios, the Knicks were convinced that no team besides Dallas would take on the Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee contracts while also offering a player like Dennis Smith Jr. along with multiple first-round picks, says Stein.
  • New York’s management group has known for years that the Mavericks were very interested in Porzingis, with one Mavs official joking to Stein that Dallas had approached the Knicks “about a hundred times” before they finally showed a willingness to move the All-Star big man. Conversely, the Knicks had been expressing interest in Smith all season, per Stein.
  • The Knicks and Mavericks had been discussing the framework of a possible Wesley Matthews/Hardaway deal for weeks, and began expanding those talks to include Porzingis on January 28, Stein writes. The two teams then worked in person toward finalizing the framework of a deal last Wednesday when the Mavs played the Knicks in New York. However, the Knicks wanted to wait until after they met with the Porzingis brothers on Thursday to make any decisions.
  • Following that Thursday meeting between Knicks management and the Porzingis brothers, Janis Porzingis (Kristaps’ agent) provided the club with a four-team list of preferred destinations, a source tells Stein. The Nets and Clippers were on that list, but the Mavericks weren’t. The Knicks opted to move quickly on the Mavs deal in part due to concern that Porzingis’ camp would leak that list and threaten to only sign long-term with those clubs, Stein adds.
  • The Knicks were informed that Porzingis was ready to leave the team and continue his injury rehab in Spain if he remained on the roster through the trade deadline, Stein hears.
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, with an interesting quote to Stein: “It was my mistake to not keep Dirk [Nowitzki] and Steve [Nash] together longer. I won’t make the same mistake with Luka [Doncic] and KP.”
  • For what it’s worth, Stein reports that the threat of Kevin Durant leaving for the Knicks has “never felt more real” to the Warriors than it does now that New York has cleared two maximum-salary slots for the summer.