Zach Collins

Western Notes: Morris, Fournier, Kanter, Booker

Celtics forward Marcus Morris believes Thunder coach Billy Donovan made a big mistake by using his brother Markieff Morris sparingly during their playoff series against Portland, Jay King of The Athletic reports.

Markieff Morris chose to play with Oklahoma City after reaching a buyout with New Orleans, which acquired him from the Wizards at the trade deadline. Markieff played just four minutes in Game 5 and between 13 and 15 minutes in the other games of the series won by the Trail Blazers, 4-1.

“I’m not a coach or anything like that, but I feel like they just didn’t utilize their bench enough. I feel like my brother went over there for no reason,” Marcus said. “He never got an opportunity to play. I thought that he would really help them in the playoffs, but from what I seen he should have went somewhere else just to be able to show that veteran leadership and that experience.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Trail Blazers made an offer for Magic swingman Evan Fournier that Orlando passed on prior to the trade deadline, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders tweets. Portland was willing to ship a roster player and a protected first-rounder for Fournier, who will make $17MM next season and holds a player option on his $17MM salary for the 2020/21 season.
  • Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter played with a separated left shoulder in Game 5, Kevin Pelton of ESPN reports. Kanter suffered the injury during the opening quarter but managed to play 32 minutes. He received a pain-killing injection at halftime. Kanter averaged 13.2 PPG and 10.2 RPG in the series as the primary replacement for injured Jusuf Nurkic. Portland would have to rely more on Zach Collins and Meyers Leonard in the conference semifinals if Kanter is forced to miss any games.
  • Suns star guard Devin Booker had no input in the firing of coach Igor Kokoskov, GM James Jones told the Arizona Republic’s Katherine Fitzgerald and other media members. “I speak to Devin, I speak to all of our players, about our organization. But in these instances, this isn’t a decision for Devin to make. This is my decision,” Jones said. That’s curious, since Booker indicated after signing his five-year maximum salary extension that he’d have a say in all major moves going forward.  I think it’s a collective agreement. Moving forward, throwing in any advice I can, stay in the loop and watch what’s going on and know what’s going on,” Booker said last month.
  • The Rockets held a predraft workout on Wednesday that included Mississippi guard Quinndary Weatherspoon, Washington guard Jalyen Nowell and Campbell guard Chris Clemons, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets.  Houston does not currently own a pick in this year’s draft. Nowell is the highest-ranked prospect among the trio, as he’s ranked No. 87 by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

Deveney’s Latest: Blazers, Harkless, Saric, Matthews

After officially acquiring Rodney Hood in a trade with Cleveland earlier today, the Trail Blazers may not be done dealing, writes Sean Deveney of Sporting News. According to Deveney, some executives around the NBA have suggested that Portland regretted its relative inactivity at last season’s deadline and is more willing to make moves this time around.

Whether the Trail Blazers do anything drastic may hinge on their willingness to move second-year big man Zach Collins, according to Deveney, who says that the team has “resisted inquiries” on Collins so far.

Maurice Harkless is among the Trail Blazers who could be had though, and the team is open to moving its first-round pick as well, per Deveney. Harkless has one more year on his contract after this season, which figures to limit his value — teams like the Knicks and Nets have had interest in him in the past, but won’t want to compromise their 2019 cap flexibility by acquiring him now, Deveney observes.

Here’s more on the Blazers, plus a couple other notes from Deveney on the trade market:

  • Nikola Mirotic (Pelicans), Jeremy Lin (Hawks), Evan Fournier (Magic), and JaMychal Green (Grizzlies) are among the players the Trail Blazers have expressed interest in, sources tell Deveney.
  • Dario Saric‘s production and playing time has dipped since Ryan Saunders took over as the Timberwolves‘ head coach, and Deveney suggests that it wouldn’t be a shock to see Saric back on the trade block in the offseason, or even this week. “He could be had for a decent offer, a first-rounder and a player,” one league executive told Deveney.
  • Deveney reiterates that the Raptors and Rockets are expected to be among the favorites for Wesley Matthews if he’s bought out, as we heard earlier today. The Bucks wouldn’t be among Matthews’ suitors, per Deveney, though Milwaukee hopes to add one more frontcourt piece via trade or free agency.

Trail Blazers Rumors: Stotts, Lillard, Collins

After their 2017/18 season ended with a four-game sweep at the hands of the Pelicans in the first round of the postseason, the Trail Blazers came close to firing head coach Terry Stotts, sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe. Portland was close enough to making a move that teams like the Suns begin reaching out to intermediaries to gauge Stotts’ potential interest in their own coaching openings.

However, while ownership seriously considered a change, president of basketball operations Neil Olshey and star point guard Damian Lillard fought for Stotts, according to Lowe.

“I was asked what I thought, and I just said I love him as a coach,” Lillard said of Stotts. “We all love him.”

Lowe’s piece takes a deep dive into the Trail Blazers’ culture, as he notes that Lillard and C.J. McCollum “tolerate no squabbling, or blame games.” That attitude permeates the organization from top to bottom, according to Lowe, who points to the relationship between Olshey and Stotts as another example.

Although the two team leaders haven’t always seen eye-to-eye on everything, they’ve developed an understanding that Olshey will avoid players who don’t fit Stotts’ style and Stotts will coach the players he gets. As a result of their relationship, Lowe explains, players will never see Olshey and Stotts at odds in any serious way, as the organization emphasizes a drama-free and resentment-free culture.

Here’s more from Lowe on the Blazers:

  • The Blazers’ late owner Paul Allen, who passed away last month, addressed the team in the wake of its first-round exit, calling the four-game sweep “unacceptable,” sources tell Lowe. Based on the language and the tone, people within the organization were nervous that a major shakeup was coming during the offseason.
  • Allen was ultimately convinced to give everyone – including Stotts and the Blazers’ core – one more season, while team management and coaches vowed to make changes heading into 2018/19. Namely, as Lowe details, Portland wanted to surround Evan Turner with more shooting on the second unit, re-shuffle the rotation to get Lillard and McCollum more playing time together, and get off to a faster start this season. So far, that plan is going well.
  • The Blazers still want to find a way to supplement their Lillard/McCollum duo with a third impact player, sources around the NBA tell Lowe. Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic have emerged as perhaps Portland’s most valuable trade chips, but the club doesn’t want to trade Collins and “almost certainly won’t” anytime soon, Lowe reports.
  • Lowe identifies Khris Middleton and Tobias Harris as the type of player who would appeal to the Blazers, though acquiring either of those guys in a trade or as a free agent would be an extreme long shot. Forwards like Otto Porter of the Wizards and Taurean Prince of the Hawks may be more realistic trade targets, Lowe notes.
  • Lillard still believes the Blazers are capable of reaching greater heights during his tenure with the team. “Good things come to good people, even if you get swept somewhere along the way,” he tells Lowe. “This is what goes through my mind: I’m gonna be in my 11th year or something here, I’m gonna stick with it, and we’re gonna make the Finals.”

Blazers Exercise Options On Collins, Swanigan

The Trail Blazers have exercised their third-year options for the 2019/20 season on big men Zach Collins and Caleb Swanigan, Joe Freeman of The Oregonian tweets. The team has officially confirmed the option decisions.

The cap hit on Collins, who will make $3.63MM in his second NBA season, will be $4.24MM. The cap charge on Swanigan, who will make $1.74MM this season, will be a little over $2MM next season.

Portland already had over $119MM in guaranteed salary commitments on its cap for the 2019/20 season, so the decisions on Collins and Swanigan will add to potential luxury tax issues unless it can move some contracts.

Collins, the 10th overall pick in the 2017 draft, posted modest numbers in his rookie campaign. He averaged 4.4 PPG and 3.3 RPG in 15.8 MPG while making 66 regular-season appearances. He averaged 7.0 PPG and 3.0 RPG in 17.5 MPG during the Blazers’ four postseason games.

Swanigan, the 26th overall selection last summer, averaged 2.3 PPG and 2.0 RPG in 7.0 MPG during 27 regular-season appearances.

The decision to exercise those options shows that the Blazers feel there’s plenty of untapped potential in both players, though they are projected to have reserve roles this season. Collins should see more action with last year’s backup center, Ed Davis, signing with the Nets in free agency.

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Rose, Brewer

The Trail Blazers have surged into third place in a wild Western Conference playoff race thanks largely to an impressive level of depth, Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest writes. On a nightly basis, Portland’s success can be at least partly attributed to team defense and solid performances from role players.

In the past two years, when we went on great runs, it’s always been C.J. McCollum has a great stretch, or I have a great stretch,” lone Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard said. “But now, it’s much more collective – both this season and during this run.

Quick cites Jusuf Nurkic‘s in-season improvement shooting around the basket, the pleasant emergence of rookie Zach Collins and a clutch performance from Shabazz Napier as some of the driving forces behind the Trail Blazer’s recent success.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets have struggled since offseason addition Paul Millsap made his return from an extended absence. Now the playoff hopeful club needs to figure out how to right the ship. “When a player of Paul Millsap’s magnitude misses 44 games and comes back with 22 games to go, that is a huge challenge,” head coach Michael Malone told Gina Mizell of The Denver Post. “Especially when the team was playing so well.
  • We wrote last month that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor wasn’t interested in having his team sign Derrick Rose. That line of thinking changed after Jimmy Butler went down with his knee injury, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes.
  • The Thunder may have found a suitable replacement for the injured Andre Roberson in recently bought out veteran Corey Brewer. “I’m not comparing him and Andre in any way personality-wise or player-wise,” head coach Billy Donovan told ESPN’s Royce Young, “But the one thing I will compare them, they both have a pop and a bounce to them where they play the game where they find the ball. They find it and are able to make plays.”

Trail Blazers Notes: Stotts, Lillard, Collins

Players are standing behind Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts through the team’s inconsistent performance, according to Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest. Stotts has become a target of fan anger during a 20-18 start that has included losses to lower-level teams such as the Hawks, Nets and Kings. With 13 returning players, Portland was counting on continuity to improve on last year’s .500 performance, but the Blazers have often struggled to score and enter tonight last in the league in assists and 25th in total offense.

“We all know what’s going on,’’ Ed Davis said. “The guys on the team, we read about it, and I know Coach does … that ‘Hot Seat’ stuff and things like that. Everybody sees it, and I know while I’m here, [along with] a bunch of the rest of the guys in the locker room, we are going to fight for Coach. Every night. There is no quit in us. He’s our leader.’’

Stotts is in his sixth year as Portland’s coach, compiling a 243-205 record with four straight playoff appearances. He has one more season left on the contract extension he signed after the 2015/16 season.

There’s more today out of Portland:

  • Damian Lillard said his admiration for Stotts factored into his decision to accept an extension with the Blazers in 2015, Quick adds in the same piece. Lillard has been a strong defender of the coach, including a publicized interaction with a fan on Instagram in November. The star point guard said owner Paul Allen hasn’t asked him about Stotts, but he knows what he would say if Allen or GM Neil Olshey approached him about a coaching change. “I would want to know why,’’ Lillard said. “Because I honestly don’t feel like he is the issue. As players we have to do things a lot better. I honestly feel like he is one of the better coaches in the league as far as being an offensive coach, but also in giving players an opportunity, and connecting with the players, too. And then we have a great coaching staff. That is not the issue.’’
  • Lillard was surprised to end up in Portland in the 2012 draft, relays Noel Harris of The Sacramento Bee. In response to a fan’s question on Twitter, Lillard said he expected be taken by the Kings, who held the fifth pick, one ahead of the Blazers. Sacramento opted for Thomas Robinson, who played for six teams in five years and is currently in Russia.
  • Rookie center Zach Collins has brought some toughness to the Blazers, writes Mike Richman of The Oregonian. Collins has earned a spot in the rotation over the past month after seeing little playing time to start the season. “The biggest thing is his character has come through in that he’s aggressive, he’s determined,” Stotts said. “After a tough summer, he came in and wanted to improve. I think it just shows his determination.”

Northwest Notes: Gasol, Collins, Hood, Millsap

Even though the Grizzlies are saying they have no intention of trading Marc Gasol, the veteran center could be a perfect fit in Portland if that changes before the February deadline, writes Tim Brown of The Oregonian. Neither Jusuf Nurkic or Zach Collins has been the answer in the middle for the Trail Blazers so far this season, and the addition of addition of Gasol could vault them several spaces in the Western Conference playoff race, Brown contends.

Gasol, 32, is averaging 19.0 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 27 games. He is signed for a little more than $24MM next season and has a player option worth nearly $25.6MM for 2019/20. However, Portland doesn’t have a significant expiring contract this season or next season to offer Memphis any cap relief, and Brown admits that Damian Lillard or C.J. McCollum might have to be included in a deal to get the Grizzlies to part with Gasol.

There’s more news from the Northwest Division:

  • Collins, the 10th pick in this year’s draft, is making his first career start tonight in Miami, tweets Jason Quick of NBC Northwest. Collins has appeared in just 10 games for the Blazers and is playing about eight minutes per night.
  • The Jazz welcome back shooting guard Rodney Hood tonight after he missed the past seven games with an ankle problem, tweets Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. Hood was averaging a career-best 17.7 points through 18 games before the injury, which team doctors are calling tendon soreness (Twitter link). Coach Quin Snyder also offered encouraging news about veteran swingman Joe Johnson, who has been sidelined with a right wrist injury. Snyder said Johnson is close to returning, although he won’t be available tonight (Twitter link). He appeared in just seven games before suffering the injury in late October.
  • Nuggets forward Paul Millsap, out for three months after surgery on his left wrist in late November, explained why he didn’t have the procedure done right away, tweets T.J. McBride of Mile High Sports. In an interview with Altitude TV, Millsap said the delay involved finding the right surgeon and staff to perform the operation. Denver’s top free agent addition over the summer, Millsap has played 16 games and is averaging 15.3 points and 6.2 rebounds.

Blazers Sign Collins, Swanigan To Rookie Contracts

The Trail Blazers have officially signed rookie big men Zach Collins and Caleb Swanigan to their first NBA contracts, according to a pair of press releases issued by the team.

Portland entered last month’s draft with three first-round picks, but packaged the 15th and 20th overall selections to acquire the No. 10 overall pick, which the team used to snag Collins. The Blazers held onto their other first-rounder, No. 26 overall, and selected Swanigan with that pick.

As our chart of rookie scale salaries for 2017/18 shows, Collins will be in line for a first-year salary of $3.06MM and a four-year total of $16.33MM, while Swanigan will earn a more modest $1.47MM salary this season and $8.9MM over four years.

While their investments in Collins and Swanigan are fairly modest compared to most other players on their roster, every dollar will count this year for the Blazers, who already had nearly $133MM in guaranteed salaries on their books before locking up their first-rounders. If Portland is unable to move contracts in a trade, Collins’ and Swanigan’s deals will increase the team’s projected tax penalties for 2017/18.

Blazers Acquire No. 10 Pick, Draft Zach Collins

9:05pm: The trade is now official, according to the Blazers. The Kings used the 15th and 20th picks on Justin Jackson and Harry Giles, respectively.

7:36pm: The Trail Blazers and Kings have agreed to a trade involving draft picks, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (via Twitter). Wojnarowski reports that Portland will send the 15th and 20th overall selections to Sacramento in exchange for the No. 10 pick.

Having acquired the 10th overall pick, the Blazers will use the selection to draft former Gonzaga big man Zach Collins, according to Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

[RELATED: Complete 2017 NBA Draft Results]

The Kings had already used the No. 5 overall pick to select point guard De’Aaron Fox, but had a second top-10 pick as a result of February’s DeMarcus Cousins trade with the Pelicans. Sacramento will turn that selection into two more mid-first-rounders, and the team is now a candidate to use one of those picks on a draft-and-stash prospect.

As for the Blazers, they entered the night with three first-round picks. In this deal, they’ll send out their own pick (No. 15) and the Grizzlies’ first-rounder (No. 20), which they acquired in February in a trade with the Nuggets.

Portland will still have the No. 26 pick and will add a promising young big man in Collins with the No. 10 pick, leaving prospects like Malik Monk, Donovan Mitchell, and Luke Kennard for teams picking outside of the top 10.

Heat Notes: Leaf, Collins, Reed, Aldridge

The Heat will be looking for size with the 14th pick, especially if Luke Kennard and Donovan Mitchell are both off the board, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. T.J. Leaf, who proved to be an effective outside shooter at UCLA, is a possibility, along with Gonzaga’s Zach Collins, who can also hit from 3-point range. Miami would like to find a stretch four to team with Hassan Whiteside, a traditional low-post center.

If Collins is off the board, Jackson says the Heat will look at Jarrett Allen of Texas and Justin Patton of Creighton. Both are 6’11” and are targeted for the back of the lottery or possibly later. A minor injury prevented Allen from working out for Miami, but he held an interview Sunday and reportedly impressed team officials. Patton did participate in a workout for the Heat on Sunday.

Jackson offers more insight into Miami’s strategy for tonight and beyond:

  • Drafting a backup center would protect the Heat in case Willie Reed leaves in free agency. The front office fears that Reed will get an offer significantly higher than the team is willing to pay.
  • Leaf could be a replacement for either Luke Babbitt or James Johnson, two forwards who are both headed for free agency.
  • Another big man to consider is John Collins of Wake Forest, who impressed the Heat in a workout last week. Miami will also look at Duke’s Harry Giles, but might be scared off by his history of knee problems. Giles canceled a workout in Miami and never rescheduled.
  • If the Heat decide to trade down, they will focus on UCLA center Ike Anigbogu and Kentucky power forward Bam Adebayo.
  • Miami is a possible destination if LaMarcus Aldridge wants out of San Antonio. The Spurs are seeking a top 10 draft pick and would like to cut salary to make a run at Chris Paul. Jackson says Miami could offer a competitive package of the 14th pick, Wayne Ellington, whose $6.27MM contract won’t be guaranteed until July 12th, Justise Winslow and Josh McRoberts.