Will Barton

Western Rumors: CP3, Wolves, Simmons, Barton, Thunder

Addressing Chris Paul‘s contract situation during an appearance on Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo, Suns owner Robert Sarver said he wasn’t sure whether or not the veteran point guard would pick up his player option.

Asked if there was a scenario in which Paul opts out and doesn’t return, Sarver replied, “I don’t know. I’m sure there probably is. But I think our first priority would be to try to get him back, but that’ll depend on his agent and (Suns general manager) James (Jones) and him and me and all that kind of stuff, so I don’t know. We’ll see next week I guess, right?”

Despite Sarver’s hedging, I’d still be a little surprised if Paul and the Suns don’t either agree to an extension or a new contract in the coming days. The Suns owner added that he’s prepared to begin paying luxury tax penalties either next season or the following year, as team salary continues to rise.

Here’s more from around the West:

  • The Timberwolves don’t have a pick in Thursday’s draft, but they’ve been making calls “all over the league,” according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, who says Minnesota remains in the hunt for a power forward. A trade for Ben Simmons is unlikely, but the Wolves haven’t given up on the possibility in the event the Sixers drop their asking price, Krawczynski adds.
  • There’s “growing optimism” that Will Barton and the Nuggets will be able to agree to a new deal in free agency, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Barton turned down his $14.7MM player option for 2021/22, but remains interested in returning to Denver on a longer-term contract.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic has heard some chatter about the possibility of the Thunder trying to trade up to No. 3 in order to select Evan Mobley. However, he notes that the Cavaliers – and other teams that talk to Oklahoma City – will likely try to extract a king’s ransom, given the Thunder’s stockpile of draft picks. OKC may not be willing to pay that price.

Charania’s Latest: Beal, Lakers, Hardaway Jr., Barton, Turner, Ennis, Lowry

Wizards star Bradley Beal is expected to use this weekend to continue pondering his future with the franchise, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports.

Beal has been “on the fence” about his future with Washington at times, Charania notes. Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer first reported that Beal had been pondering a trade request, adding that any call for a move would likely come before Thursday’s draft.

The 28-year-old Beal recently finished his ninth season with the team, averaging a career-high 31.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.

Here are some other notes from The Athletic’s story:

  • The Lakers are expected to express interest in Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Spencer Dinwiddie, Charania reports. A previous report from Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times indicated that the three guards have interest in joining L.A.
  • The Mavericks have prioritized re-signing veteran free agent Tim Hardaway Jr., Charania notes. Hardway is coming off a stellar campaign with Dallas, averaging 16.6 points per game on 39% shooting from three-point range.
  • Will Barton declined his $14.7MM player option with Denver earlier this month, but there’s expected to be significant interest between both sides on negotiating a new deal, according to Charania. Barton recently concluded his seventh season with the Nuggets.
  • The Pelicans and Hornets have expressed interest in Pacers center Myles Turner, Charania reports. Indiana is open to moving the 25-year-old Turner after finishing the season at just 34-38.
  • Magic free agent James Ennis is expected to garner interest from multiple postseason contenders. Ennis, a seven-year veteran, averaged 8.4 points per contest on 43% shooting from deep this past season.
  • Charania also reported a list of top suitors for Lowry in free agency, listing the Sixers, Lakers, Mavericks, Pelicans and Heat as teams likely to be in the mix for him.

Northwest Notes: Hernangomez, McCollum, Barton, Jazz

Timberwolves officials will have to work to repair the damage with Juan Hernangomez after denying permission for him to represent Spain in the Olympics, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. The 25-year-old forward, who has been participating in international competitions since 2013, was “deeply disappointed and hurt” by the decision, according to Krawczynski.

Hernangomez suffered a dislocated left shoulder in a July 8 exhibition against France. The Spanish team originally said Hernangomez might need surgery and would require several weeks to recover. Minnesota’s front office believed that meant he was out of the Olympics, but Spain included him on the official roster that was announced Monday, saying his condition improved rapidly.

President of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said the Wolves’ medical staff never cleared Hernangomez to resume playing.

“We support our international players’ decisions to play with their national teams and appreciate the passion of Juancho and the Spanish Federation to represent their country. Unfortunately, we are dealing with an active injury,” Rosas said in a prepared statement. “Based on our team physician’s recommendation, Juancho needs time to recover from and rehabilitate his injury, and that timeline restricts Juancho’s availability to participate in the Tokyo Olympics. The determined recovery plan is the best path forward to allow Juancho to heal properly.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • In two meetings with president of basketball operations Neil Olshey since the Trail Blazers were knocked out of the playoffs, Damian Lillard has emphasized the need to add more talent, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic. Portland doesn’t have any picks in this year’s draft and re-signing Norman Powell will be the priority in free agency, so Olshey will likely have to be aggressive on the trade market. Teams have offered picks in the top half of the draft in exchange for CJ McCollum, Quick adds, but the Blazers have been refusing because that wouldn’t help with their urgency to improve right away. They are expected to try to purchase a pick in the second round.
  • Will Barton declined his player option, but he and the Nuggets are optimistic about reaching a new deal, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post. JaMychal Green also opted out of his contract for next season, though Singer believes that it makes more sense for the team to prioritize a new deal with Green than with frontcourt free agents Paul Millsap and JaVale McGee.
  • The Jazz aren’t likely to use their biannual exception this summer, states Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. Utah hopes to re-sign point guard Mike Conley, which would put its team salary above the tax apron and remove any chance to use the roughly $3.7MM BAE. Even if Conley goes elsewhere, Todd doesn’t believe the Jazz would be willing to take on the hard cap that comes with using the exception.

Will Barton To Decline Player Option

Nuggets swingman Will Barton will opt out of his $14.7MM salary for next season, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Both sides hope a new deal can be reached in free agency, Charania adds.

Today was the deadline for a decision from Barton, who has been in Denver since being acquired in a trade with Portland midway through the 2014/15 season. He is the longest-tenured player on the Nuggets’ roster and will be an offseason priority for president of basketball operations Tim Connelly, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Denver owns Bird rights on Barton and will be able to exceed the cap to re-sign him, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link). Even without Barton on the books, the Nuggets project to be over the cap for next season when taking into account the team’s first-round draft pick and a possible $7.6MM salary for JaMychal Green, whose player option decision is due by July 26.

[RELATED: 2021 NBA Offseason Preview: Denver Nuggets]

Barton, 30, suffered a late-season hamstring injury that limited his availability in the playoffs. He appeared in 56 regular season games and averaged 12.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists while shooting a career best 38.1% from three-point range.

Keep up with all the offseason decisions on player options here.

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Barton, Edwards, Nuggets Workouts

Keeping Mike Conley is a top priority for the Jazz, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic in his off-season primer, but there are plenty of other questions beyond that facing this year’s No. 1 seed in the West.

One such question will be if the Jazz can hit on the 30th pick in the draft. While it’s not historically a wellspring for players who can help a team with championship ambitions, this is a deep draft and there are plenty of examples of success stories at that spot, such as Jimmy Butler, Kevin Porter Jr.., Kevon Looney, and Kyle Anderson, among others.

There’s also the question of their current young players on the roster. Though Donovan Mitchell is the only young player who is a member of the team’s core, the Jazz will have to decide which other youngsters they keep and try to develop, and which they let go.

We have more from around the Northwest Division:

  • Will Barton of the Nuggets was cagey about the topic of his impending player option deadline and whether he’ll look to enter free agency, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post.  “Being appreciated,” Barton said of what he’s looking for in free agency. “Team knowing my value. Of course, an important role. Just the right situation. I want to win.” Barton will have to decide whether he picks up his $14.6MM player option by July 17.
  • The Timberwolves have brought Anthony Edwards back to Minnesota for an injury evaluation, reports Christina Long of The Star Tribune. Edwards was among the players chosen to practice with Team USA as part of the Select Team, but was seen limping off the floor last week. A Star Tribune source reports that the injury is non-knee related, and is a sprain.
  • The Nuggets held a workout for six draft prospects yesterday, tweets Mike Singer: Josh Christopher, Quentin Grimes, Jason Preston, Duane Washington, Jordan Goodman, and Matt Coleman. Of the six, Christopher and Grimes are the highest-ranked, and either one could potentially be in play when the Nuggets are on the board with the 26th pick.

Northwest Notes: Lillard, Thunder, Bol, Barton

Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard plans to keep any further discussion about his future in Portland private, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN. There has been speculation that Lillard might request a trade from the organization where he has spent his entire nine-year career in the wake of a disappointing first-round playoff exit and a coaching change.

Asked to comment on the rumors this week at Team USA’s training camp in Las Vegas, Lillard said he will handle the situation behind closed doors.

“Anything that I have to say, I’m going to say directly to (Blazers general manager) Neil (Olshey) and I’m going to address it directly with my team,” Lillard said. “There’s really nothing else I have to say about it.”

Lillard, who will turn 31 this week, is a six-time All-Star and one of the most prolific scorers in the league. However, Portland has been bounced from the playoffs in the first round in four of the past five seasons and may be entering a transition phase. Even so, Lillard pointed out that he hasn’t made any negative public comments about the franchise.

“There’s a lot of things being said and sometimes words being put in my mouth, and I haven’t said anything,” he said. “If there is something to be said or if I think something or have something to say that I’m going to say it and I’m going to stand on it.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Thunder have collected draft assets by taking on large contracts from other teams, and Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman wonders if the SixersBen Simmons could become a target. Mussatto suggests offering Philadelphia Kemba Walker, who was recently acquired from the Celtics, along with Ty Jerome and the 16th and 18th picks in this year’s draft. Simmons, whose future with the Sixers is uncertain after a shaky shooting performance in the playoffs, is owed more than $146MM over the next four seasons.
  • In a mailbag column, Mike Singer of the Denver Post speculates on the future of Nuggets big man Bol Bol, who barely played after signing a two-year contract last offseason. Singer notes that Bol only saw a combined 26 minutes in April and seemed to fall behind Zeke Nnaji and Vlatko Cancar on the depth chart.
  • Singer also cites “chatter” about a possible extension for Nuggets guard Will Barton, who has a July 17 deadline to decide on a $14.6MM player option for next season. Singer states that there’s a lot of “goodwill” between the organization and Barton, who is projected to be a starter if he returns.

Northwest Notes: Barton, Nuggets, D’Antoni, Rosas

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone would “love” for starting shooting guard Will Barton to return to the club in the 2021/22 season, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Barton has a $14.6MM player option.

“I would love for Will Barton to be back,” Malone said of Barton, who has been with the Nuggets since the club traded for him in a deal with the Trail Blazers during the 2014/15 season. “Everything he brings to the team. That’s on the court, off the court, in the locker room, from a culture standpoint. … He means a ton to me personally. He means a ton to this team and everything we’ve been able to accomplish these last six years. … Me, personally, I hope he’s back here for a long time.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets‘ chemistry, both on the court and on the bench, will eventually yield a title, opines Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. The night during which Denver was ousted from the playoffs by Suns, in a four-game second-round sweep, MVP center Nikola Jokic, head coach Michael Malone, and team owner Josh Kroenke all sat down for a drink. “When I went home that night, I said, ‘Man, we got a really unique setup here,’” Malone reflected. “We’re all disappointed, we lost, no one was happy. … But to have an owner and an MVP who are just so down to earth and committed to doing whatever it takes to be better and find ways to win a championship, those two hours were so important.” The club was without its second-best player, guard Jamal Murray, for the entirety of its playoff run. Kiszla notes that the close bond between that trio is a rare thing in pro sports.
  • Nets assistant coach Mike D’Antoni was perceived as the runner-up finalist to land the Trail Blazers head coaching job that is expected to go to Chauncey Billups, write Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic. Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon, who would have been the first female head coach hired by a franchise in the big four American men’s sports, was the third option, Charania and Amick write.
  • Timberwolves GM Gerson Rosas handled the end of the 2020/21 season and the lead-up to last week’s lottery with the right approach, writes La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune. A mostly-healthy Minnesota team went 7-5 to close the season. Their top-three protected first-round pick fell to No. 7 in the lottery, and will be conveyed to the Warriors. Neal commends Rosas for wanting to see what the Timberwolves had under new head coach Chris Finch, rather than tanking and attempting to retain the team’s 2021 first-round pick.

Nuggets Notes: Porter Jr., Luxury Tax, Gordon, Barton, Green

The Nuggets are hoping to reach a rookie scale extension agreement with Michael Porter Jr. this offseason, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Porter had a breakout season, averaging 19.0 PPG and 7.3 RPG and president of basketball operations Tim Connelly is eager to lock up his combo forward long-term.

“He’s basketball-obsessed. His work ethic is an A-plus. It’s fun when you see guys like that where he had to battle through adversity and all the injuries,” Connelly said. “We’ll sit down with Michael’s representation. Our M.O. is when we can, we try to lock guys up and reward them for what they’ve done.”

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Connelly said that the luxury tax is not a factor in keeping the team competitive, as he told Singer. “We have no financial restraints in terms of trying to further develop a championship-level roster,” he said. Singer notes team salary would likely surpass the tax threshold during the 2022/23 season if Porter is signed to an extension.
  • Porter might be more valuable as a trade chip than a fixture in the Nuggets’ lineup, Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla opines. While Porter is an elite scorer, he has ball-handling issues and is an obvious defensive liability. If Denver can get a star such as Bradley Beal and Zion Williamson in a trade involving Porter, Connelly shouldn’t hesitate, Kiszla adds.
  • Along with Porter’s contract situation, the Nuggets must decide this offseason whether to pursue an extension with Aaron Gordon and whether they want to re-sign Will Barton and JaMychal Green if they decline their player options, Singer writes in an offseason outlook. Adding backcourt depth is also a priority until Murray returns from his knee injury.

Nuggets Notes: Jokic, Barton, Porter, Offseason

The Nuggets became the latest NBA team to be eliminated from the postseason, as the Suns completed a four-game sweep on Sunday night in Denver. This season’s Most Valuable Player, Nikola Jokic, wasn’t on the court for the last quarter of his team’s season, having been ejected after being assessed with a flagrant two for a hard foul on Suns guard Cameron Payne. Head coach Michael Malone wasn’t thrilled with the decision, as ESPN’s Royce Young writes.

“I just didn’t feel like it warranted a flagrant two ejection because he’s making a play on the ball,” Malone said. “There’s marginal contact to Cameron Payne’s nose, I believe. So I was shocked. I’m still a little bit shocked that they called a flagrant two and ejected the MVP on such a play.”

Suns head coach Monty Williams said that he didn’t believe there was any “malicious” intent on Jokic’s part. But whether or not the star center had been ejected, the Nuggets were on the ropes and were unlikely to climb out of a deep hole in the series against Phoenix.

While Denver would’ve liked to advance further in the playoffs, the club was pleased with what it accomplished this season, including a first-round victory without standout guard Jamal Murray.

“The whole season was great, I think,” Jokic said. “Until the last four games.”

Here’s more out of Denver:

  • Nuggets guard Will Barton has battled toe, adductor, knee, and hamstring injuries since the 2019/20 season began and has had to mourn the death of his cousin, who was shot and killed in December 2019, writes Sean Keeler of The Denver Post. Barton admitted after Sunday’s loss that the last 18 months have been “tough for me, physically and mentally,” but vowed to “keep fighting.”
  • Barton will have to decide in the coming weeks whether to pick up his $14.7MM option for 2021/22 or decline it to seek a new contract. According to Keeler, Barton said on Sunday that if he opts out, he’ll want to end up somewhere where he can “play my game” and be in a “winning environment.” A new contract with the Nuggets is a possibility, since it sounds like he views Denver as a place that meets those criteria. “I definitely believe we’ve got the pieces,” Barton said. “And if we’re healthy, I feel like we can win it. And that’s all I’ll say about that.”
  • Barton’s potential free agency will be one of the biggest decisions facing the Nuggets this summer, but there will be plenty of others, according to Nick Kosmider of The Athletic, who points to JaMychal Green‘s contract situation, a possible extension for Aaron Gordon, and Paul Millsap‘s free agency as some other issues the organization will have to address.
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) also previews the Nuggets’ offseason, with a focus on how the team will handle a potential rookie scale extension for rising star Michael Porter Jr.

Nuggets Notes: Barton’s Return, Porter, Murray, Jokic, Malone

Nuggets’ guard Will Barton is expected to play tonight, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Barton had previously been listed as “doubtful,” but over the course of the last 24 hours, had been upgraded to “questionable.” Now it seems that barring a setback, he’ll appear for the Nuggets in an important Game Two.

The 30-year-old has been inactive since April 23 with a hamstring strain, but has been ramping up his workouts in recent days. Adding Barton back into the Nuggets rotation would give them a 6’6, athletic option to try defensively on Devin Booker, who had 21 points on 12 shots against a combination of Austin Rivers, Aaron Gordon, and others in the Suns’ Game One victory.

Here’s more on the Nuggets:

  • Michael Porter tweaked his back in Game One, but head coach Michael Malone expects him back for tonight’s game, reports ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “He got treatment all day today, had a good conversation with him. But, barring anything unforeseen, Michael should be good to go for Game 2,” Malone said. The 22-year-old forward missed his first year in the NBA due to back injuries, but there seems to be little concern Game One’s injury was anything more than a minor tweak.
  • The Nuggets haven’t provided a specific timeline for Jamal Murray‘s return from his torn ACL, but sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that the earliest they expect the guard to return would be in February 2022. Murray has been spotted getting shots up before games while avoiding putting weight on his injured knee.
  • The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie and the Denver Post’s Sean Keeler both took a closer look at Nikola Jokic‘s rise from 41st pick to 2021 MVP. Keeler writes about Jokic’s underdog mentality and how he refuses to lobby for his own awards. “I didn’t come here to want to be MVP of the league,” Jokic told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. “I always think someone is better than me. I want to compete to beat him. Just by that mentality, I’m going to be underdog, always.” Meanwhile Vecenie writes about the draft process that led Jokic to Denver. “It was just kind of lucky scouting, to be honest with you,” said team president Tim Connelly.
  • Malone called the Nuggets’ mentality in Game One “soft,” reports ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “I think [we] had a soft mentality,” Malone said. “You can’t give up eight and-1s in a playoff game. If you’re going to foul somebody, foul them, and not let them get the and-1.Aaron Gordon agreed with his coach’s assessment. “Scared, that’s another way to play it,” said Gordon. “You could choose between them two words, either soft or scared, that’s what it felt like we were playing like.” Jokic offered a different take, saying he didn’t believe they played soft, but that the team needed to be more decisive when the Suns started getting hot.