Clippers Hire Tyronn Lue As Top Assistant On Doc Rivers’ Staff

The Clippers and Tyronn Lue have agreed on a deal that will make the coach Doc Rivers’ lead assistant, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. It was recently reported that the team was closing in on a deal with Lue.

Lue was the frontrunner for the Lakers head coaching gig just months ago. Contract talks between Lue and the Lakers reportedly broke down, and the club ultimately hired Frank Vogel to replace Luke Walton.

Lue previously coached on Doc Rivers’ staff, serving as an assistant during stints with the Celtics and Clippers before he made his way to Cleveland where he won a title as a head coach.

A report in May indicated that the Pelicans and Rockets had expressed interest in hiring Lue as an assistant and that he had turned down offers to join NBA coaching staffs since being let go by the Cavs last fall.

Lue has a record of 128-83 as a head coach with all of his experience coming during LeBron James‘ second era in Cleveland. Now, Lue and James will again share a workplace albeit with much different circumstances as the two Los Angeles gear up to compete against each other in the Western Conference.

Bucks Sign Guard Rayjon Tucker

August 20: The signing is official, according to the team’s website.

August 16: Guard  Rayjon Tucker will sign an Exhibit 10 contract with the Bucks, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets.

Right after the draft, a report surfaced that claimed Tucker would sign a partially guaranteed deal with Milwaukee.

However, nearly two months went by without a contract being inked. Last week, the Heat hosted Tucker for a three-day audition but no agreement was reached because Tucker was looking for a two-way deal and Miami wasn’t willing to offer more than an Exhibit 10 contract. The Bucks have already filled their two-way slots but Tucker has decided to join them after all.

The Bucks are also signing Jaylen Adams to a camp deal.

Tucker played for the Bucks‘ squad in the Las Vegas Summer League and averaged 10.2 PPG and 3.6 RPG in 19.8 MPG over five appearances.

The Arkansas-Little Rock product had announced prior to the draft that he would transfer to the University of Memphis, but later decided to keep his name in the draft. The 6’5″ guard averaged 20.3 points per game last season and shot 41.1% from 3-point range. He was a second-team selection on the All-Sun Belt team.

Examining The Heat’s Two-Way Contract Situation

The Heat have yet to utilize either of their two-way contracts slots, making them one of three rosters not to feature this type of deal (Raptors, Rockets). Jeremiah Martin, Chris Silva, and Kyle Alexander are each under Exhibit 10 contracts, and it plausible that the team will end up converting up to two of the three into two-way deals at some point before the season.

Two-way contracts, which allow players to split time between the NBA and the G League, were implemented during the 2017 season and there has been numerous instances where the players under these deals make an impact for their NBA squad. Quinn Cook (Warriors), Tyrone Wallace (Clippers), and Danuel House (Rockets) are among the players who have contributed to their respective team’s success.

Martin, Silva, and Alexander each suited up for the Miami’s summer league team in Las Vegas and each had impressive stints for the squad, which is why the franchise plans on bringing the trio to camp. Each will likely play for the team’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Skyforce, should they not receive a two-way deal.

Examine Miami’s roster and its easy to find a need for additional depth. James Johnson, Dion Waiters, and Goran Dragic are among the players to miss extensive time with injuries last season. Kelly Olynyk is already nursing a knee injury that forced him to pull out of the World Cup and while the team brought back Udonis Haslem to man the 15th roster spot, the power forward hasn’t played more than 130 total minutes in a season since the Obama administration was in office.

Hitting on two-way players is critical for this team, as it will help mitigate the risk of sliding down the standings in the event of injuries and back-end of the roster ineffectiveness. The franchise only needs to look back at last season to such occurances.

Miami’s salary cap situation makes getting their two-way contract slots even more crucial. The franchise sits less than $200K below the apron, which it is hard-capped at as a result of the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade. While many teams will have the ability to tinker with the back end of the rotation and replace players with guaranteed contracts who don’t fit. Miami has no such luxury; the organization had no margin for error here.

The Heat could ostensibly make moves, such as releasing Kendrick Nunn, whose contract is non-guaranteed, in order to make another addition to the official roster. It could also waive any guaranteed contract it wants without making an addition. However, those, like many of the paths for Miami to add talent, appears unlikely.

Two-way contracts do not count against the salary cap, though they allow players under these deal to spend up to 45 days in the NBA. Whether its a pair from the Silva, Martin, Alexander trio or other players who end up with those deals, Miami may need production from these spots even if its only a total of 90 days of NBA service.

Bucks Sign Jaylen Adams To Camp Deal

August 20: The signing is official, according to the team’s website.

August 16: The Bucks are signing guard Jaylen Adams to a training camp deal, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Adams became a free agent in mid-July after the Hawks waived him before his $1,416,852 salary became guaranteed. Milwaukee’s contract offer is apparently an Exhibit 10 deal. The Bucks targeted Adams for an affiliate contract spot with their G League team, the Wisconsin Herd, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets.

Adams signed a two-way deal with Atlanta last summer, then had it converted to a standard contract in February. He went undrafted out of St. Bonaventure.

The 23-year-old Adams appeared in 34 NBA games last season, averaging 3.2 PPG and 1.9 APG in 12.6 MPG.

Milwaukee had 16 players under contract (14 with fully guaranteed deals), along with a pair of two-way players.

The 6’2” Adams faces an uphill battle to gain a roster spot. The Bucks already have Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, Donte DiVincenzo and two-way player Frank Mason at the point.

Team USA Notes: Fox, White, Mitchell, Tucker

Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com was surprised when De’Aaron Fox pulled out of international competition, as he explains in a collaborate piece with ESPN’s Ohn Youngmisuk. Leading up to Fox’s departure, many reports had him as one of the best players at Team USA’s functions and Windhorst writes that Fox would have been a lock to make the team.

Here’s more from the ESPN piece as well as other notes concerning Team USA:

  • Did Fox leave because he was worried that coach Gregg Popovich would selecte Spurs guard Derrick White over him? Windhorst doesn’t believe so. White may make the team but it’ll be because of his exceptional play rather than any preferential treatment.
  • Donovan Mitchell has been the most impressive player at USA Basketball functions, Youngmisuk contends (same piece). Mitchell is treating the FIBA World Cup as not just an opportunity to win the tournament but to advance his game and position himself for a roster spot on next year’s Olympics team.
  • P.J. Tucker, who recently dropped out of competition for USA Basketball, was a near-lock to make the roster, as Kelly Iko of The Athletic relays. Team USA Teammate Khris Middleton was surprised that the veteran decided to leave the team. “Yeah, we were very surprised,” Middleton said. “But, you know, P.J. is a great player. A tough guy, a vet, that’s been around this league, been around this world, and is experienced. He’s a tough player.”

Kings Sign Center Eric Mika

The Kings have signed center Eric Mika, according to a team press release.

It’s an Exhibit 10 deal, James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets.

Sacramento had two openings available on its training camp roster. Mika faces long odds in terms of making the opening-night roster. The Kings already have three centers — Dewayne Dedmon, Richaun Holmes and Harry Giles — along with power forwards Marvin Bagley III, Nemanja Bjelica, Caleb Swanigan, Tyler Lydon and two-way player Wenyen Gabriel.

The 6’10” Mika, 24, was a member of Sacramento’s California Classic summer league squad last month. He played three games and averaged 8.3 PPG and 9.3 RPG in 19.3 MPG. He also appeared in five Las Vegas summer league games for the franchise and averaged 9.2 PPG and 7.0 RPG in 17.0 MPG.

Mika went undrafted out of BYU in 2017. He played overseas with Germani Basket Brescia of the Italian Lega Basket Serie A and Medi Bayreuth of Germany’s Basketball Bundesliga last season, posting averages of 8.2 PPG and 3.9 RPG in 15.9 MPG in 41 games.

Community Shootaround: Warriors’ Outlook

Stephen Curry has been saying all the right things this summer.

Curry remains upbeat about the Warriors’ prospects for the upcoming season despite Kevin Durant‘s departure to the Nets, Klay Thompson‘s knee injury and the loss of numerous other rotation players, including Andre Iguodala (trade) and Shaun Livingston (waived).

“It’s just a change in dynamic all the way around,” Curry said this month. “We’re excited about the opportunities, the challenges for the whole roster, because we’ve got a lot of guys that have the opportunity to really prove themselves and make a difference in our team. Obviously our core, ’til Klay gets back, we know how to win and we know how to play. We’re just going to do it a little differently.”

It’s uncertain if and when Thompson will return from his ACL injury. Most likely it will be after the All-Star break and the Warriors will certainly take a cautious approach with an All-Star who just signed a $190MM contract.

D’Angelo Russell was the team’s big offseason acquisition and it remains to be seen how he’ll mesh with Curry while playing off the ball. What they’ll do with Russell once Thompson is healthy enough to play is another major question mark.

The Warriors should have a decent one-two punch defensively at center with Kevon Looney and another off-season addition, Willie Cauley-Stein.

The remainder of the roster is dotted with young, unproven players and a couple of others trying to revive their careers. Their backup shooting guard options include Alec Burks, Jacob Evans and Jordan PooleAlfonzo McKinnie, Glenn Robinson III and two-way player Damion Lee are the main contenders at small forward while Omari Spellman, Alen Smailagic and Eric Paschall are the other big man reserves.

Hardly an imposing lot. The good news is that the trio of Curry, Russell and Draymond Green — provided he’s motivated and stays in top shape — are better than the top three players on most other rosters. Additionally, Steve Kerr is one of the top coaches in the league and will be out to prove he can maximize the talent he has on the roster.

That brings us to our question of the day: Will the Warriors make the playoffs during the upcoming season? If so, what is their postseason ceiling?

Please take to the comments section to weigh in on this topic. We look forward to your input.

Nuggets Notes: Harris, Bol, Cook

Gary Harris is primed for a bounce-back season with the Nuggets after injuries marred his 2018/19 campaign, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic writes. Harris was only able to play in 57 regular-season games last season. Harris shot 40.2% from long range in the last 21 games of the regular season and averaged 14.2 PPG in the postseason, Kosmider notes. Coach Michael Malone has praised Harris for his consistency and the shooting guard has a capable backup in Malik Beasley, which gives Malone the luxury of resting Harris more often prior to the playoffs, Kosmider adds.

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • They would prefer to have second-round pick Bol Bol sign a two-way contract in order to stay below the luxury tax line, as Albert Nahmad details. A two-way deal instead of a $898K minimum-salary contract with Bol would give them a little more elbow room as opposed to being less than 100K under the line. If Bol doesn’t want a two-way, the team would have to issue him that minimum deal by September 5 to make him a restricted free agent. Bol would have until October 15 to accept the offer. The team is currently $979K below the tax line, though that figures excludes some unlikely bonuses for Harris  and Paul Millsap, Nahmad adds (Twitter links here).
  • Undrafted forward Tyler Cook currently holds the other two-way spot and he has no illusions about making an impact in his rookie year, according to Kendra Andrews of The Athletic. Like most two-way players, Cook will try to hone his skills in the G League for a majority of the season. “I’m a rookie and I understand that,” Cook said. “I’m coming into an established group and so I want to be able to do whatever I can do, whatever they ask me to do to help them win.”
  • According to a rookie survey, Bol was a steal in this year’s draft. Get more details here.

Lakers To Work Out Noah, Speights, Howard

The Lakers plan to work out free agent centers Joakim Noah and Marreese Speights as well as the Grizzlies’ Dwight Howard this week in Los Angeles, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Another NBA free agent, Marcin Gortat, could also come in for a look, Wojnarowski adds. The Lakers want to evaluate the physical condition and mindset of each player as they seek to replace DeMarcus Cousins.

Cousins suffered a torn ACL this month after he signed a one-year contract with the Lakers. Cousins could miss the entire season.

The Grizzlies had already granted the Lakers permission to meet with Howard. Memphis acquired him from the Wizards this offseason but he’s not part of their plans. The Grizzlies could make a trade or reach a buyout on his $5.6MM contract if the Lakers want him.

Noah averaged 7.1 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 41 games for Memphis last season after his woeful stint with the Knicks. He hasn’t drawn much attention on the free agent market, though he reportedly was being very selective about his next NBA destination.

Speights, who played in China last season, worked out in front of numerous NBA executives last month in Las Vegas.

Gortat was waived by the Clippers at the trade deadline last season and didn’t get picked up.

The Lakers currently have 14 players with guaranteed deals.

International Notes: Stokes, Morris, Mourning, Senegal

Power forward Jarnell Stokes has decided to remain in China for a third consecutive season, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Stokes will sign a $1.9MM contract with Xinjiang. Stokes has appeared in 28 NBA games for the Grizzlies, Heat, and Nuggets. He played five games with the Trail Blazers in the Las Vegas Summer League last month and averaged 10.6 PPG and 6.4 RPG.

We have more news from around the basketball globe:

  • Guard Darius Morris has officially signed with Russia’s Enisey Krasnoyarsk, Carchia reports. Morris played in the G League last season with Santa Cruz Warriors, averaging 15.2 PPG and 6.1 APG. The former Lakers and Nets guard has appeared in 132 total NBA games after being selected in the second round of the 2011 draft but the 2014/15 season was his last in the league.
  • Trey Mourning, son of former NBA star Alonzo Mourning, will play for Russia’s Runa Basket, Carchia adds in another post. The former Georgetown forward, who went undrafted this June, averaged 9.0 PPG and 2.8 RPG in four games for the Heat in summer league action last month.
  • Former NBA players Hamady Ndiaye and Maurice Ndour are among the players on Senegal’s World Cup roster, according to a FIBA press release. Ndiaye, a center, was a Timberwolves’ 2010 second-round pick and appeared in 33 NBA games. Ndour, a small forward, played 32 games for the Knicks during the 2016/17 season.