And-Ones: Lottery Ideas, White, BIG3

While the NBA recently voted to approve changes to the league’s draft lottery rules, Mavs owner Mark Cuban had a pair of other ideas to dissuade teams from tanking. Neither gained traction but the details that Cuban shared with ESPN’s Tim MacMahon are admittedly intriguing.

One of Cuban’s proposals would see the NBA draft eliminated outright with teams, instead, getting an allotted budget from the league to sign draft eligible players as free agents. The teams with the worse records would have the biggest budgets but wouldn’t necessarily be a lock to land the top talent if they don’t position themselves as an appealing destination.

The team with the worst record gets the most money and the team with the best record gets the least money,” Cuban said. “It’s like a free agency. It makes it a lot harder to tank because you don’t know if you get the best players if you’re horrible all the time. Nobody liked that at all, not a single person.

Cuban pitched the idea to the league’s board of governors but the concept didn’t have much of an impact.

The other idea that Cuban had was to lock the team with the worst record into a single draft position, potentially third or fourth. Doing so, Cuban argues, would give teams incentive to compete down the stretch to ensure that they didn’t finish the regular season with the worst record. By avoiding finishing 30th of all 30 teams, a team would effectively keep their chances of snagging the top pick in the draft alive.

Tuck the two Cuban ideas up on a shelf beside Zach Lowe’s Wheel Idea for future speculation, however, considering that the league moved quickly and enthusiastically to adopts its relatively modest rejigging of the traditional draft lottery format.

There’s more news from around the league:

  • The NBA didn’t set a record for international players on opening day rosters but it came close. A total of 108 international players from 42 countries suited up for Game 1, Michael Yuan of ESPN writes, that’s down from 113 international players from 41 countries in 2016/17.
  • The G League returning rights to Heat forward Okaro White were acquired by the Long Island Nets in a trade with the Memphis Hustle, a press release on the Nets’ affiliate’s site reports.
  • The BIG3 will expand its rosters ahead of its second season of operation, the league announced. This year teams will have one additional slot for a co-captain… which could come in handy.

Bulls Notes: Pondexter, Portis, Dunn

After a tumultuous two years on the sidelines, Bulls forward Quincy Pondexter made an emotional return to the court in Chicago’s season opener, Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago writes. The 29-year-old missed the last two seasons recovering from a knee injury, as well as a life-threatening MRSA infection.

Just last January one of Pondexter’s knee surgeries went south, resulting in the guard nearly dying in a New York hospital due to the antibiotic-resistant infection. “It wasn’t looking good,” Pondexter said. “It was tough. Being able to play basketball again in less than a year is crazy. This journey has been amazing.

Pondexter scored eight points in his return but despite a prolific three-point shot, the veteran’s biggest contribution to the young Bulls will likely be his leadership. Pondexter has served as a valued role player for the Pelicans and the Grizzlies and will look to continue where he left off in 2014/15.

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Head coach Fred Hoiberg told Nick Friedell of ESPN that Bobby Portis apologized to his teammates in a recent team meeting.
  • There are too many variables at play for Bulls President of Basketball Operations John Paxson to put a timeline on the team’s rebuild, Cody Westerlund of 670 The Score tweets.
  • If the Bulls were hoping for a quiet 2017/18 season to develop young players and establish a new culture, that vanished the moment Bobby Portis punched Nikola Mirotic, Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago writes. Now the club in transition will be viewed under a microscope.
  • Second-year guard Kris Dunn could make his season debut as early as next week, NBA writer Sean Highkin tweets. Dunn had been expected to be sidelined 2-to-4 weeks as recently as last week.

2017 Offseason In Review: Chicago Bulls

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2017 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2017/18 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Chicago Bulls.

Signings:Cristiano Felicio vertical

Camp invitees:

Waiver claims:

Trades:

Draft picks:

  • 1-7: Lauri Markkanen — Signed to rookie contract.

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

Salary cap situation:

  • Operating over the cap, but can create more than $17MM in cap room if necessary. Carrying approximately $81.4MM in guaranteed team salary. Portion of mid-level exception ($3.79MM) and full bi-annual exception ($3.29MM) still available.

Check out the Chicago Bulls’ full roster and depth chart at RosterResource.com.


Story of the summer:

With mounting pressure to commit to an inevitable rebuild, the Bulls finally opted to ship lone star Jimmy Butler westward for a handful of intriguing young building blocks.

To say that Chicago fans have grown skeptical that Gar Forman and John Paxson are the men to lead them into the next great era of Bulls basketball is an understatement. Nevertheless, the executive team has accepted the ambitious task and attempted to make the most of a less-than-stellar chapter in franchise history.

While the Bulls may be a way off from their next postseason appearance, we can give the organization credit for hopping off the treadmill of mediocrity. Baby steps, people.

Read more

Jameer Nelson Clears Waivers, Drawing Interest

Veteran point guard Jameer Nelson has cleared waivers after being released by the Nuggets and the 35-year-old has already been contacted by a number of NBA teams, Chris Haynes of ESPN tweets.

One possible landing spot for the 13-year vet is Houston. Given that the Rockets may be particularly cautious with Chris Paul‘s knee injury and potentially seek a temporary replacement, Nelson could possibly slot in until Paul fully recovers.

Haynes mentioned Houston specifically as one of the teams with whom Nelson’s representation has been in touch. The Rockets currently roster just 14 players, so they’d be able to add Nelson without any other moves.

What’s more, as Bobby Marks of ESPN writes, Houston is $2.8MM below the luxury tax, giving them just enough space to sign Nelson to a $2.3MM veteran’s minimum deal without consequence. That sort of deal would only count for a prorated portion of $1.471MM against the Rockets’ cap.

Bucks Sign Joel Bolomboy To Two-Way Contract

17:16pm: The Bucks have officially announced the signing over Twitter.

17:00pm: The Bucks are signing Joel Bolomboy to a two-way contract, Chris Reichert of 2 Ways, 10 Days tweets. The forward was the last cut by the Jazz in preseason after they selected him in the second-round of the 2016 NBA Draft.

While the Weber State product didn’t spend much time in the NBA during his rookie campaign he was particularly dominant with Utah’s G League affiliate in Salt Lake City. The 23-year-old will look to build upon a solid stat line in his first season with Milwaukee’s G League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd.

In 22 games with the Stars in 2016/17, Bolomboy averaged 16.6 points and 13.3 rebounds per game. After his release from the Jazz last week he was expected to be the first-overall pick in the annual G League draft on Saturday.

When Bolomboy does get a chance to suit up for the big league club in Milwaukee, he’ll compete with the likes of Mirza Teletovic and John Henson for reps off the bench.

Latest On Chris Paul

After a less than stellar individual performance in the Rockets’ season opening win over the Warriors, Chris Paul sat out of Houston’s second game of the season earlier this week. Now, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets, concerns about the guard’s knee could potentially sideline the 32-year-old for as much as a month.

While Stein adds that the Rockets will officially consider their offseason trade acquisition “day-to-day” after announcing that he’ll miss the club’s home opener on Saturday with a knee contusion, it’s expected that they’ll be particularly cautious with the guard considering that they have every intention of making a long playoff run.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Rockets are bracing for a “possible 2-to-4 week stretch” without their playmaker and have inquired with various agents about adding potential point guard support in the interim.

At full health, Paul is an undisputed superstar and enough of a shot in the arm to give Houston a serious chance of making noise in the crowded Western Conference, unfortunately, the veteran has already missed over 10 games in five of his 12 NBA seasons and appears to be on pace to make it six out of 13.

Paul averaged 18.1 points and 9.2 assists per game for the Clippers last season and was brought over to the Rockets in a blockbuster offseason deal.

G League Notes: Bolomboy, E. Millsap, Tavares

The 2017 NBA G League draft will take place on Saturday, and former Jazz forward Joel Bolomboy is expected to be the first overall pick, a source tells Dakota Schmidt of Ridiculous Upside (Twitter link).

Phoenix’s G League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns, made a trade earlier today with the Iowa Wolves that saw the Suns acquire the No. 1 overall pick in exchange for the returning rights to Elijah Millsap, among other pieces. However, Schmidt suggests (via Twitter) that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see that first overall pick change hands again in the next 24 hours.

Here are a few more G League notes and updates, with a focus on more former NBA players like Bolomboy and Millsap:

  • Edy Tavares, whose returning rights are held by the Raptors 905, is headed back to the G League after being waived by Cleveland, according to a report from Gigantes (English link via Sportando).
  • The Rockets‘ G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, sent a first-round pick to the Long Island Nets in exchange for R.J. Hunter‘s returning rights. Hunter, a former first-round pick, intends to suit up for the Vipers, his agent confirms to Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link).
  • The Long Island Nets acquired the returning rights to Okaro White and Jamaal Franklin in a trade with the Memphis Hustle, according to a press release. White is still on the Heat‘s NBA roster and recently had his 2017/18 salary guaranteed, so Brooklyn’s affiliate seems unlikely to get its hands on him this season.
  • The Texas Legends, the affiliate of the Mavericks, has acquired Will Bynum‘s returning rights, suggesting the veteran guard could join the organization for the G League season, tweets Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News.
  • Cliff Alexander, who was in camp with New Orleans earlier this month, had his returning rights traded to the Wisconsin Herd, the Bucks‘ G League affiliate, per a team release. “Cliff is a highly-skilled big man who is among the best in the league at his position,” Herd GM Dave Dean said in a statement. “He has a tremendous upside and we are excited to add him to the Wisconsin Herd family.”

Pelicans’ Alexis Ajinca Expected To Miss 4-6 Weeks

Pelicans center Alexis Ajinca is expected to be sidelined for the next four to six weeks after undergoing successful bilateral knee injections on Thursday, the team announced today in a press release. The Pelicans classify Ajinca’s knee ailment as patellar tendonitis.

Ajinca, 29, battled injuries last season as well and also fell out of the rotation for stretches — he appeared in just 39 games (15 starts). Ajinca was a solid contributor when he played, averaging 5.3 PPG and 4.5 RPG for the Pelicans in 15.0 minutes per contest, but expressed some frustrations with his role.

With Ajinca and fellow big man Omer Asik sidelined, we got a glimpse in the Pelicans’ opener on Wednesday what the frontcourt rotation might look like for the club. Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins will, of course, see significant minutes up front, with Dante Cunningham and Cheick Diallo also worked into the mix.

The Pelicans may apply for a hardship exception, which would grant the club an extra roster spot, following their third game of the season. Teams that have at least four players who have missed three or more games due to injury or illness are eligible to apply for the exception. Currently, Ajinca, Asik, Rajon Rondo, Solomon Hill, and Frank Jackson are all on the shelf for New Orleans.

With team salary inching close to the tax line and the hard cap, the Pelicans will have to decide if it’s worth it to add some extra depth this early in the season.

2017 Offseason In Review: Portland Trail Blazers

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2017 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2017/18 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Portland Trail Blazers.

Signings:CJWilcox vertical

  • C.J. Wilcox: Two-way contract. One year. $50K guaranteed.

Camp invitees:

Trades:

Draft picks:

  • 1-10: Zach Collins — Signed to rookie contract.
  • 1-26: Caleb Swanigan — Signed to rookie contract.

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

  • Extended president of basketball operations Neil Olshey through 2021.

Salary cap situation:

  • Operating over the cap and over the tax line by approximately $3MM. Carrying approximately $122MM in guaranteed team salary. Full taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.192MM) still available.

Check out the Portland Trail Blazers’ full roster and depth chart at RosterResource.com.


Story of the summer:

Most NBA teams head into the offseason looking to improve their respective rosters by spending money, but that wasn’t necessarily the case for the Trail Blazers, whose primary goal over the summer was to trim their projected team salary.

The summer of 2016 loomed large over the 2017 offseason for the Blazers, who handed out lucrative long-term contracts to several free agents in ’16. Not all of those deals look awful a year later, but the team probably wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to take many of them back, including huge multiyear investments in Meyers Leonard, Evan Turner, and Allen Crabbe.

Portland entered the offseason with $133MM+ in guaranteed team salary on the books for 2017/18, not including cap holds for the club’s three first-round picks. By the time the dust settled and the regular season roster was set, the Blazers had sliced that number by more than $10MM, exponentially reducing the franchise’s projected luxury tax bill. So, in at least one sense, the club’s offseason was a success.

Read more

Knicks Notes: Melo, Porzingis, Hernangomez, PGs

While some fans in New York may have been happy to see the Carmelo Anthony era come to an end last month, Anthony’s Knicks teammates weren’t among those that wanted to see him go. As Ian Begley of ESPN details, Anthony was the Knicks’ recipient of the Teammate of The Year award in 2017, an award voted on by his peers.

Begley passes along quotes from several of Anthony’s former teammates in New York, all of whom had nothing but praise for the veteran forward. Mindaugas Kuzminskas, for instance, wasn’t sure Anthony would know who he was when he arrived in New York last season, and was surprised when his All-Star teammate approached him with questions about his Olympic experience.

“Probably the biggest thing that I learned from ‘Melo is that even being a huge star, huge player, you can be still a great person, great teammate,” Kuzminskas said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie or a veteran. He’s going to treat you the same way.”

While Anthony received plenty of questions about his time in New York and his recent departure from the Knicks in the days leading up to Thursday’s Thunder/Knicks showdown, the newest member of the Thunder is eager to move on, telling reporters after OKC’s opening-night win that it’s time to close that chapter. “No more Knicks talk,” Anthony said, according to ESPN’s Royce Young.

Stop reading now, ‘Melo, because we’ve got more Knicks talk below…

  • While there weren’t a ton of positives for the Knicks in Thursday’s loss to the Thunder, the play of Kristaps Porzingis was a bright spot. Porzingis is showing that he can be a worthy successor to Anthony, according to Ian Begley, who has the details in a story for ESPN.com.
  • Another one of the Knicks’ young building blocks, Willy Hernangomez, barely saw any action in the Knicks’ opener. It was a surprising decision, but Jeff Hornacek defended the call by pointing out that Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn earned playing time with their preseason performances, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. I think the coach wants to see my effort on defense,” Hernangomez said. “That’s why I have to keep working hard everyday.”
  • The Knicks’ point guard situation was viewed as perhaps the worst in the league entering the season, and the club’s play on Thursday didn’t do much to change that perception. One NBA scout who spoke to Marc Berman of The New York Post suggests that the Knicks might as well throw rookie Frank Ntilikina “to the wolves” and let him play major minutes.
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