Zach Collins

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.

Knicks Rumors: Porzingis, Carmelo, Z. Collins

Players and agents around the NBA have taken notice of the way the Knicks have treated their star players under Phil Jackson, writes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. While the appeal of playing in New York has been on the decline somewhat in recent years thanks to the team’s poor performance, this year’s Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis situations have made the club even more toxic.

“There are 30 teams, and you don’t want to write off anybody, because there’s only so many rotation spots around the league,” one agent tells Deveney. “But of course you’d have to be worried about sending a guy to New York with this front office, especially an upper-level guy. Because he might be doing what he can to help and you might have the team president there ripping him in the media like it’s his fault or putting him in trade rumors. … No one wants that. You have to be concerned about that.”

Deveney’s piece was published early in the day on Wednesday, before Phil Jackson confirmed publicly in an interview on MSG that he’s listening to inquiries on Porzingis.

Here’s more out of New York:

  • According to Frank Isola of The New York Daily News, multiple people familiar with the Knicks’ thinking believe that the Porzingis drama is a result of members of the front office scrambling to save face and protect their jobs.The front office is in full survivor mode,” a team source tells Isola. “The place is a mess, so now they want to make it seem like the kid is the problem. Suddenly he’s uncoachable. He won’t listen. They’re trying to put it all on him.”
  • For his part, Porzingis has his own thoughts and opinions on the Knicks and the triangle, as Marc Berman of The New York Post details. Wednesday’s other Porzingis rumors can be found right here.
  • Jackson’s MSG interview also included a segment on Carmelo Anthony, with the Knicks president suggesting that he still thinks Anthony would be better off elsewhere, though he acknowledged that Carmelo may prefer to stay in New York. As Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News writes, Jackson hasn’t given up hope on a trade, but Anthony does have a no-trade clause that he can use if he wants to.
  • The Knicks had dinner with Gonzaga big man Zach Collins on Tuesday night, league sources tell Ian Begley of ESPN.com. Collins is viewed as a potential top-10 pick, though it would be a surprise if he lands with New York, considering the team’s apparent preference for a guard or wing. Jackson indicated today, in fact, that there’s a “good chance” the Knicks will use their No. 8 pick on a guard (Twitter link via Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders).

Draft Notes: Jackson, Ball, Ntilikina, Smith

Kansas forward Josh Jackson wanted to work out for the Celtics after they traded for the No. 3 pick, but couldn’t work out the scheduling, tweets Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. The Celtics are reportedly deciding between Jackson and Duke forward Jayson Tatum if they decide to keep the pick, and Tatum held a workout in Boston on Monday.

Jackson added that he has spoken to Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown and believes they would form a good combination (Twitter link). The former Jayhawk also disputed a rumor that he refused to work out for the team unless he was promised Boston wouldn’t trade its pick (Twitter link).

There’s more as the top prospects met with the media today in New York:

  • Lonzo Ball confirmed to reporters his only pre-draft meeting was with the Lakers, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com. Ball also believes L.A. traded D’Angelo Russell to open up a spot for him and he can see that “the Lakers have a plan.” He adds that the Lakers haven’t promised to take him, relays Adam Zagoria of Fanrag Sports (Twitter link), saying, “We’ll just find out tomorrow night.” Ball also explained why he turned down a session with the Celtics when they had the top pick, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. “If it’s either play for the hometown or go No. 1, I’d rather play for the hometown,” Ball said.
  • Frank Ntilikina met with the Knicks front office today, including team president Phil Jackson, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The French point guard, who is reportedly in strong consideration with New York’s No. 8 pick, said the team wanted to meet him in person.
  • Dennis Smith Jr. also met with Jackson and the Knicks front office, Begley relays (Twitter link). The North Carolina State point guard believes he can be effective in the triangle offense.
  • Indiana’s OG Anunoby said doctors have assured him that he can resume basketball activities by October or early November, according to Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). Anunoby had surgery on his right knee after a season-ending injury in January.
  • Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen was a Timberwolves fan growing up, and Minnesota was among the four teams he worked out for, Fischer tweets. The others were the Mavericks, Celtics and Magic, and he had a meeting with the Knicks.
  • Gonzaga’s Zach Collins had private workouts with the Magic, Wolves, Kings, Mavericks and Suns, and a group session with the Lakers, Fischer relays (Twitter link).
  • Duke’s Luke Kennard held individual workouts for the Lakers, Pistons, Knicks and Mavericks (Twitter link).
  • The Nets and Bulls were among the teams to work out international big man Isaiah Hartenstein leading up to the draft, tweets David Pick.

Draft Notes: Mitchell, Jackson, Tatum, Ferguson

Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell will hold a last-minute workout for the Knicks today, posts Ian Begley on ESPN Now. The sophomore out of Louisville, whose session was originally scheduled for Tuesday, is being considered with the No 8 pick, Begley adds, along with French point guard Frank Ntilikina, Kentucky guard Malik Monk, Arizona big man Lauri Markkanen and others. Team president Phil Jackson is intrigued by Mitchell’s defensive prowess and athleticism and likes the fact that he prefers to work out in a group setting to showcase his defense. Joining Mitchell today will be Villanova’s Josh Hart, Miami’s Davon Reed, Iowa State’s Naz Long and others.

There’s more draft news on the eve of the big event:

  • The Celtics have received Josh Jackson‘s medical records, but the Kansas forward still refuses to work out for the team, tweets Chad Ford of ESPN.com. Boston appears to be leaning toward Duke’s Jayson Tatum with the No. 3 pick, Ford states, but no decision has been made.
  • Ford still has Jackson as the third selection in his latest mock draft, which was released today. Markelle Fultz remains No. 1, followed by Lonzo Ball, with the rest of the top 10 as Tatum, Jonathan Isaac, De’Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr., Monk, Zach Collins and Markkanen.
  • Terrance Ferguson recently pulled out of workouts with the Pistons, Hawks and Bucks, tweets Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. It’s possible that Ferguson received a draft promise from the Nuggets or Nets or he may have been responding to poor workouts (Twitter link).
  • A 7-footer with a soft shooting touch, Markkanen is drawing comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki, writes Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. Some scouts believe the 20-year-old Finnish star is the best 3-point shooter in the draft. “It’s probably not fair to him to have some young guy compared to a Hall of Fame player and champion,” Markkanen said of Nowitzki. “We have similarities because of the height, being from Europe and shooting. But I have a long way to go before I’m in the same category as him. Hopefully, I can get there one day.”
  • The Wizards will work out six players today, the team announced on its website. They are French center Alpha Kaba, Cincinnati’s Troy Caupain Jr., VCU’s JeQuan Lewis, Eastern Michigan’s Jalen Ross, Niagara’s Tahjere McCall and East Tennessee State’s Hanner Mosquera-Perea.

Lakers Rumors: Ball, Russell, Randle, LeBron

ESPN’s Chad Ford reported earlier today that sources believe the Lakers moved “closer and closer” over the weekend to making Lonzo Ball their pick at No. 2, Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report shares a similar sentiment in his latest column. According to Ding, the Lakers are “nearing a final decision” to use the second overall pick on Ball.

Team sources tell Ding that there are still some additional discussions and final planning that will take place before the Lakers are on the clock on Thursday, but Ball’s second pre-draft meeting with the club on Friday was a productive one. An “appreciation for Ball’s all-around upside” has emerged within the Lakers in recent weeks, according to Ding.

Here are a few more Lakers-related notes and rumors:

  • There are ongoing questions within the Lakers’ organization about how D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle take criticism, team sources tell Ding within the article linked above. Neither player advanced as far in 2016/17 as Luke Walton had hoped, according to Ding, who says Russell was “inconsistent with his professionalism” while Randle “often lost messages given to him if they were delivered harshly.”
  • Trading Jordan Clarkson for a current or future draft pick would make “a ton of sense” for the Lakers, given their desire to continue stockpiling assets and maintaining cap flexibility, says Ding. Clarkson is rumored to be on the trade block.
  • Ding also touches on the LeBron James rumors that have surfaced within the last week or two, citing sources who say that James’ wife would like to live in Los Angeles full-time. Multiple recent reports have suggested that LeBron opting out and joining one of the L.A. teams in 2018 is a possibility.
  • League sources tell Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link) that the Lakers have expressed no interest in trading the No. 2 overall pick at this juncture. We heard last week that L.A. was “taking and making calls” related to that selection, but it seems those calls may not be happening anymore.
  • Mark Medina of The Orange County Reigster spoke to former Gonzaga big man Zach Collins following his Monday workout with the Lakers, suggesting that Collins will likely only be on L.A.’s radar if the team makes a trade. We heard this morning that the Lakers may be trying to acquire a second lottery pick.

Lakers Notes: George, Ball, Russell, Workout

The Lakers will have to unload some salary before next summer to offer Paul George a maximum contract, tweets Bobby Marks of The Vertical. George has informed the Pacers that he plans to opt out after next season and hopes to sign with L.A. The franchise would need roughly $30.6MM in cap room to fit in a full max deal for 2018/19, and right now there’s only about $15.6MM available (Twitter link). That number assumes they make both of their first-round picks this year and renounce all their free agents this summer and next summer except for Julius Randle.

To create more space, the Lakers would have to either renounce Randle, a valuable young talent, or trade one of their big-money contracts in Luol Deng ($18MM for 2018/19) Timofey Mozgov ($16MM) or Jordan Clarkson ($12.5MM), according to Marks (Twitter link). Another option is to use the stretch provision, which would amount to paying Deng $7.2MM and Mozgov $6.4MM over the next five years (Twitter link)

There’s more today out of Los Angeles:

  • The news about George makes the Lakers more likely to draft Lonzo Ball, tweets Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. The team is reportedly deciding between Ball and Kansas forward Josh Jackson, but the expected addition of George reduces the need for Jackson.
  • Immaturity remains a concern with incumbent point guard D’Angelo Russell, according to Mark Heisler of The Los Angeles Daily News. Russell, who might be moved to shooting guard if Ball is selected, doesn’t have point guard instincts after switching to the position during his single season at Ohio State. Heisler also shares concerns that Russell is partying too much and that coach Luke Walton has grown tired of the “post-adolescent” nature of the team.
  • Johnny Buss tells Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times that he lost his passion for owning the Lakers when his father Jerry died in 2013. Johnny Buss resigned as members of the board of directors during the season after a failed attempt to take over control of the team. “If anybody thought that Johnny or Jeanie or Jimmy or any of his kids could fill his shoes, they’re grandly mistaken,” Buss said. “He’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of person. So all we could do was try to stay together and do what he asked us to do and that was to make as much money as possible. Create a franchise that was worth billions.”
  • The Lakers will bring in six players Monday for a pre-draft workout, the team announced via Twitter. They are Gonzaga’s Zach Collins, Clemson’s Avry Holmes, Creighton’s Cole Huff, Cal-Irvine’s Luke Nelson, Columbia’s Luke Petrasek and Alabama-Huntsville’s Seab Webster.
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