Timberwolves, GM Scott Layden Part Ways

The Timberwolves and general manager Scott Layden have parted ways, sources tell Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

As Krawczynski writes, Layden – who was hired as Minnesota’s GM in 2016 when Tom Thibodeau was the team’s president of basketball operations – had one year left on his contract with the franchise, but the two sides decided it was the right time to go their separate ways.

Although Layden stuck with the Wolves following the hiring of Gersson Rosas as the team’s new president of basketball operations in 2019, his role was reportedly reduced last season, as he focused primarily on scouting and worked out of New York rather than Minnesota.

The logistical challenges posed by Layden not being based in the Twin Cities played a part in his departure, according to Krawczynski, who notes that the NBA’s coronavirus protocols would’ve made it tricky for the GM to travel back and forth to be around the team this season without going through isolation procedures each time.

Layden’s early exit will also save him and the team from negotiating to extend the end of his contract, which had been set to expire in April when the regular season would normally wrap up, says Krawczynski.

The Wolves recently added another respected voice to their front office, hiring Rudy Tomjanovich as a player personnel consultant.

Bucks, Heat Also Among Harden’s Preferred Trade Destinations

James Harden now has the Bucks and Heat among his preferred trade destinations, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic. Milwaukee and Miami join Brooklyn and Philadelphia as the top landing spots on Harden’s wish list.

As we observed on Tuesday when we wrote about Harden adding the Sixers to his list of preferred destinations, the Rockets are under no obligation to send the former MVP to one of the teams on his list, since he has multiple years left on his contract and doesn’t have the ability to veto trades. However, it’s possible those clubs would be more willing to offer significant packages for Harden if they know he wants to play for them.

Neither Milwaukee nor Miami looks like an ideal trade partner for Houston, however, given the Rockets’ asking price of an All-Star caliber player plus several young players and/or draft picks. Both the Bucks and Heat have traded away multiple future first-round picks and/or pick swaps, compromising their ability to build an offer heavy on draft assets.

As for potential centerpieces, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo would presumably be off the table in any deal with Miami, while Milwaukee obviously isn’t moving Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Bucks have other former All-Stars in Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, but neither is on a particularly team-friendly contract — Middleton is owed $147MM over four years, while Holiday can reach free agency in 2021. Tyler Herro would be an intriguing target in any deal with the Heat, but has only played one season, so the Rockets would have to be awfully high on his potential to accept a package built around him.

The Nets and 76ers are still atop Harden’s wish list, according to Charania, who says the 31-year-old has been “resigned to the belief” that he can no longer compete for a championship in Houston.

However, Charania hears that the Rockets have no interest in a Brooklyn offer that doesn’t include Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving. A Sixers offer would likely have to include Ben Simmons, but new head coach Doc Rivers has “privately made clear” that he wants an opportunity to try to maximize the potential of the Simmons/Joel Embiid duo, Charania writes.

General manager Daryl Morey and the Philadelphia front office, having added sharpshooters Seth Curry and Danny Green to complement Simmons and Embiid, appear committed to keeping their two young stars for the time being.

Harden is currently going through the NBA’s coronavirus testing process and will have to register six negative tests before he’s cleared to practice with the Rockets. According to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle, Harden only requires three negative tests to begin individual workouts, and Charania suggests the superstar guard is expected to have a workout in front of team personnel soon.

According to Charania, Harden has “maintained a dialogue” with trusted Rockets assistant coach John Lucas, even as he has been non-communicative at times with the club’s front office.

Kings Sign Quinton Rose To Exhibit 10 Deal

DECEMBER 10: The Kings officially signed Rose to his Exhibit 10 contract this week, per RealGM’s transactions log.

NOVEMBER 19: Temple guard Quinton Rose will be signing an Exhibit 10 contract with the Kings, per Jason Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link). The deal can only be officially inked after the new league year starts.

The 6’8″ Rose tallied a slash line of 14.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 1.8 SPG during his four-year college career. Jones notes that the lengthy, athletic Rose is in line with the type of player that appeals to new Kings GM Monte McNair.

Rose will join Sacramento for the team’s training camp in the hopes of making its regular season roster, or that of their G League affiliate, the Stockton Kings.

Exhibit 10 contracts are one-year, minimum salary deals that can carry an optional player bonus ranging from $5K to $50K. For further information on these deals, check out our Hoops Rumors Glossary entry.

Southeast Notes: Rozier, Hawks, Wizards, Borrego

The big Hornets offseason acquisition of 2019, guard Terry Rozier, faces a new challenge in the 2020/21 season: acclimating to two key incoming pieces who will need touches in point guard LaMelo Ball and forward Gordon Hayward, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes.

“It just goes back to adjusting to what is best for the team — what can help us get better,” said Rozier, who cited the adjustment he made during the 2019/20 season to accommodate emergent Hornets point guard Devonte’ Graham. “I became a great catch-and-shoot guy last year. That’s adding to my game, doing multiple things.” 

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The College Park Skyhawks, G League affiliate of the Hawks, are among the several clubs anticipated to opt out of the proposed G League bubble season, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). The season is expected to transpire in the Atlanta area.
  • New Wizards reserve center Robin Lopez has joined the team for his first practice, Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets. Meanwhile, newly-extended power forward Davis Bertans has arrived in D.C. and is expected to be cleared for practice by Saturday, according to Ava Wallace of the Washington Post (via Twitter). Wallace notes that visa problems delayed the big man’s arrival.
  • Now that the Hornets appear to be making a push for the play-in tournament and a crack at the playoffs, head coach James Borrego will exercise more caution in the freedom he gives young players this season, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer notes.

Northwest Notes: Okogie, Hill, Harrison, Bol

Due to a lack of established options at the power forward position, the Timberwolves may explore having 6’5″ wing Josh Okogie spend some time at the four, according to Jon Krawczynski of the Athletic.

The recently re-signed Juan Hernangómez figures to have the inside track on the starter job for the Timberwolves. Naz Reid, Jarred Vanderbilt and Okogie will also be in the mix for minutes at the four. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and/or Tyler Cook would also be candidates for playing time if one or both make the team.

Okogie is confident that, if called to play power forward, he will be able to hold his own for the Timberwolves. “I do know, if I was in that position, I don’t think I’d have a lot of trouble,” Okogie said. “Even last year, rarely do I guard somebody that’s smaller than me, unless I’m guarding like a point guard or something. Usually I’m guarding the Kawhi Leonards and Paul Georges, usually people that are taller than me, so I don’t think it’d be much different.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • New Thunder point guard George Hill is looking forward to serving as a veteran presence for his young teammates on a rebuilding squad in Oklahoma City, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman reports. “To be that leader out here is much needed with the young locker room that we have,” Hill said.
  • The latest offseason addition to the Jazz roster, defensive-minded guard Shaquille Harrison, can help guard multiple positions off the bench, according to Tony Jones of the Athletic. Jones adds that, due to Harrison’s lack of shooting touch, he will need to be employed in shooting-heavy lineups.
  • After logging most of his first NBA season in the G League, Nuggets big man Bol Bol flashed intriguing potential in seven of eight regular-season NBA restart seeding game contests. After Denver converted his two-way contract into a two-year, $4.1MM contract this offseason, questions remain about the slight, 7’2″ Bol’s ultimate positional fit on the court, as Mike Singer of the Denver Post details.

Courtney Lee To Join Mavericks’ Camp Roster

Veteran shooting guard Courtney Lee will return to the Mavericks as part of the club’s training camp roster, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN (via Twitter).

The 6’5″ guard was not a consistent rotation presence for the Mavericks during the 2019/20 season. He appeared in just 24 games, averaging 4.5 PPG, 1.3 RPG, and 0.8 SPG in 14.4 MPG.

The 35-year-old out of Western Kentucky was an effective three-and-D perimeter player in his prime, and prior to Dallas had stops with the Magic, Nets, Celtics, Grizzlies, Hornets, and Knicks across a 12-year NBA career.

Lee will face an uphill struggle to crack the 15-man squad after training camp. MacMahon notes that, though Lee will most likely not make the club’s opening night roster, the team thinks highly of his veteran locker room presence.

According to MacMahon (Twitter link), an injured calf caused Lee missed the 2019/20 season’s Orlando campus restart. A preseason opportunity with the Mavericks could double as a showcase for him to the rest of the league, even if he doesn’t stick with Dallas.

Knicks Add Skal Labissiere, Will Sign James Young

DECEMBER 9: The signing of Labissiere is now official, the Knicks have tweeted.

DECEMBER 7: Big man Skal Labissiere is signing an Exhibit 10 contract with the Knicks, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. According to Stein, James Young is also headed to New York’s camp, apparently on a similar deal.

Labissiere and Young will receive $50K bonuses if they’re on the roster of the Knicks’ G League affiliate, Westchester, for at least 60 days.

Naturally, both former first-round picks hope they can make an even bigger impression in camp. Labissiere became an unrestricted free agent when the Hawks declined to extend a qualifying offer last month.

Labissiere, 24, played 33 games for the Trail Blazers last season, averaging 5.8 PPG and 5.1 RPG in 17.2 MPG. He suffered a knee injury in December and never suited up for Atlanta after it acquired him in a trade deadline deal.

Young, 25, was the 17th pick of the 2014 draft by Boston. He hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since the 2017/18 season, when he made six appearances for Philadelphia. He played in Israel last season.

The Knicks already have the maximum of 20 players in camp, so they’ll have to open up roster spots to sign the duo.

Nuggets Sign Monte Morris To Three-Year Extension

DECEMBER 9: Morris has officially signed his extension, the Nuggets announced today in a press release.

DECEMBER 7: The Nuggets have agreed to a three-year, $27MM extension with guard Monte Morris, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The deal will be fully guaranteed and includes incentives that could bump the value to $9.4MM annually, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets.

Morris would have been an unrestricted free agent next offseason without an extension. That’s because Morris was credited with a year of service under CBA rules when he signed a two-way contract in 2017, ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (Twitter links).

It’ll be a big raise for Morris, who is due to make $1,723,707 in the upcoming season.

Morris appeared in three games during the 2017/18 season and has become a valuable member of the rotation the past two seasons. He appeared in all 82 regular-season games during the 2018/19 season and 73, including 12 starts, last season. He has averaged 9.6 PPG and 3.5 APG in 23.0 MPG in those 158 appearances.

He averaged 9.1 PPG and 2.7 APG during 19 postseason games in Orlando during Denver’s run to the Western Conference Finals.

Denver signed Euro star Facundo Campazzo last month as another option behind starting point man Jamal Murray but the extension displays the Nuggets’ commitment to Morris.

Morris’ extension will make him ineligible to be traded before the 2021 trade deadline, as Marks explains (via Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mavericks Intend To Waive J.J. Barea

Long-time Mavericks reserve point guard J.J. Barea will be waived by Dallas tomorrow, sources tell Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

MacMahon reports that team owner Marc Cuban was aware the Mavericks would most likely release Barea after inking him to a one-year, $2.56MM veteran’s minimum contract last month, but desired to extend him an offer as a reward for the 5’10” Barea’s 11-year tenure with Dallas.

The 36-year-old Barea will now look for a new home in the league, per MacMahon. MacMahon also notes that Cuban hopes to find an organizational position for Barea once his playing career concludes. The Mavericks currently have 16 players on their expected regular season roster, and waiving Barea made the most basketball sense, per Bobby Marks of ESPN (via Twitter).

Between the younger Jalen Brunson and Trey Burke, the Mavericks clearly felt secure enough in their backup point guard rotation behind All-Star lead ball handler Luka Dončić. Just last week, Rick Carlisle cited Barea’s locker room leadership as the club’s motivation to bring him back.

Last season for Dallas, Barea averaged 7.7 PPG and 3.9 APG in 15.5 MPG across 29 regular-season games. The 2019/20 season marked Barea’s return from a torn Achilles tendon incurred in January 2019.

Marvin Bagley Missed Training Camp Workouts With COVID-19

Kings big man Marvin Bagley III contracted the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in Arizona ahead of Sacramento’s training camp, and as a consequence was unable to participate in individual workouts, according to Sean Cunningham of ABC10 Sacramento (via Twitter).

As he continues to go through COVID-19 protocol, the oft-injured center/power forward does not expect to play in the Kings’ first offseason game scheduled for this Friday, Jason Jones of the Athletic tweets.

Bagley said that he dealt with a headache and body aches during his first few days with the coronavirus, comparing it unfavorably with the flu, Cunningham notes in a separate tweet. However, he has since recovered and has been observing team practices and talking with coaches on the sidelines, Jones notes.

“I’m feeling great, man,” Bagley said, James Anderson of the Sacramento Bee reports. “I’m feeling the best I’ve ever felt in a while. I took time this offseason to put more time into my body, just do everything in can control to make sure I’m on the court and available to my team.”

Drafted with the second pick in 2018 ahead of 2020 All-Stars Luka Doncic and Trae Young, Bagley has appeared in just 75 games for the Kings. In that time, he has flashed potential as a scoring force. He holds career averages of 14.8 PPG and 7.5 RPG in just 25.3 MPG.