Milwaukee Bucks

Kyler’s Latest: Jordan, Kings, Mirotic, Whiteside

The streaky Clippers, who lost nine straight games back in November, have now won a season-high six consecutive contests, re-inserting themselves in the playoff picture in the Western Conference. Even though DeAndre Jordan has been sidelined with an ankle injury for the Clips’ last three wins, the streak seems to bode well for his chances of sticking in Los Angeles through the trade deadline.

As Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes, Clippers ownership and management doesn’t seem at all eager to blow up the roster. For now, the club is focused on seeing if it’s capable of competing in the West, preferring to wait until a bit closer to the deadline to evaluate all of its options.

If the Clippers do change course by February 8, the Bucks and Rockets figure to be among the teams with interest in Jordan, whose contract situation is worth monitoring. According to Kyler, there’s a belief that the veteran center won’t be able to top his $24.12MM player option as a free agent, meaning it’s possible he could decide to opt in for 2018/19. That possibility may affect how the Clippers and potential trade partners view Jordan at the deadline.

Here’s more from Kyler:

  • The Kings‘ veteran players are all potential trade candidates at the deadline, though some are more likely to be moved than others. George Hill, for example, won’t have much value, given his contract situation, his injury history, and his underwhelming play this season. Sources close to the situation tell Kyler that Sacramento seems to be trying to help its veterans find better situations as those players fall out of the team’s regular rotation.
  • Kyler hears that Nikola Mirotic‘s camp is pushing for the Bulls to pick up the forward’s $12.5MM team option for 2018/19. Until that team option is exercised, Mirotic has the ability to block a trade, giving him some leverage if Chicago wants to complete a deal. League sources tell Kyler that the Bulls have “gotten pretty far down the road” in talks with the Jazz and Pistons about Mirotic.
  • There’s “growing talk” around the NBA that the Heat would be open to the idea of moving Hassan Whiteside for the right mix of contracts and young players, Kyler writes. The Bucks and Cavaliers, both on the lookout for a center, would be obvious suitors, but it would tough for either team to make a deal, given Whiteside’s large cap hit ($23.78MM). John Henson, Mirza Teletovic, Tristan Thompson, and Iman Shumpert are among the players whose contracts might have to be included for Milwaukee or Cleveland to make a deal work, which doesn’t sound overly appealing for Miami.
  • The Mavericks are “dangling” some expiring contracts and appear to be seeking a promising prospect on a rookie scale deal, along with future picks, says Kyler. Dallas also has cap flexibility to take on a contract or two.

Central Notes: Jordan, Bucks, Pacers, James

The Bucks remain interested in acquiring DeAndre Jordan and it was reported last week that Milwaukee was the team most likely to land the center. However, Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times (Twitter link) hears that the Bucks are no longer the frontrunners for Jordan’s services. The scribe did not specify which team is the most likely to acquire the 29-year-old.

Jordan can become an unrestricted free agent if he turns down his player option, which is worth slightly over $24.1MM, and he has been the subject of trade rumors with the Clippers having an up-and-down season. He’s currently nursing a left ankle injury and has missed the team’s last three contests.

Any team looking to make a deal for the center will likely want to see him come back at full strength before pulling the trigger on a trade and with this season’s early trade deadline (February 8), time is ticking.

Here are some other notes from the Central Division:

  • Pacers president Kevin Pritchard is thrilled with the trade that netted the team Victor Oladipo, as Clifton Brown of the Indianapolis Star passes along.“From our perspective, we targeted Victor and [Domantas Sabonis]. It wasn’t by chance. They are two young players we wanted. Victor has been like a breath of fresh air. What’s that saying, High tide lifts all boats? That’s what he’s been for us,” the executive said. Indiana owns a record of 24-20 this season and is in the thick of the Eastern Conference’s playoff race.
  • The Cavaliers need to trade for a rim protector, Bill Livingston of The Cleveland Plain Dealer contends. Livingston names Jordan as a player who would help Cleveland with their defensive woes.
  • LeBron James, who is expected to turn down his player option worth over $35.6MM and become a free agent at the end of the season, may be having his most impressive season to date, Nate Wolf of NBAMath contends. Wolf crunches the numbers and also finds that LBJ is having the best season ever for anyone at the age of 33.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/16/18

Here are Tuesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

8:54pm:

  • The Warriors have assigned Damian Jones to their G League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, the organization announced in a press release. Jones appeared in one game with Golden State this season, with most of his play coming in the G League. In 26 games with Santa Cruz, Jones has averaged 15.6 PPG, 8.4 RPG, and 2.1 APG while shooting 68.6% from the field.

6:59pm:

  • The Bucks have recalled Jabari Parker from the Wisconsin Herd, according to the team’s Twitter feed. The former No. 2 overall pick has yet to play in an NBA game this season, though it was previously reported that he hopes to return to the court before the All-Star break.
  • The Thunder have assigned Dakari Johnson to the Oklahoma City Blue, according to the team’s website. The center made one G League appearance earlier this season where he scored 21 points and nabbed 11 rebounds.

Bucks Sign Marshall Plumlee To Two-Way Deal

10:55pm: The club has confirmed the signing via press release.

3:02pm: The NBA ranks will once again feature three Plumlee brothers, with Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports reporting (via Twitter) that the Bucks are poised to sign Marshall Plumlee to a two-way contract. Plumlee’s brothers Mason Plumlee (Nuggets) and Miles Plumlee (Hawks) are currently on standard NBA deals.

Plumlee, 25, saw his first NBA action last season, appearing in 21 games for the Knicks. The seven-footer wasn’t retained by New York and caught on with the Clippers for training camp in the fall, but was waived at the end of the preseason. Since then, Plumlee has been suiting up for the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario in the G League, averaging 8.7 PPG and 7.8 RPG in 27 games for the club.

Once the signing is official, Plumlee will join Xavier Munford to fill the Bucks’ two-way contract slots. Milwaukee had been one of the few teams with an opening for a two-way signing entering the day today, so no corresponding move is required to make room for the new addition.

Based on the two-way moves reported and made official throughout the day, only the Wizards still have one of their two slots open.

Jabari Parker Targets Pre-All-Star Break Return

  • Bucks forward Jabari Parker believes he’ll make his season debut before the All-Star break, he told Scott Grodsky of CBS 58 in Milwaukee. Parker tore his ACL in February, his second major knee injury since entering the league. Parker, who was assigned to the Bucks’ G League affiliate on Monday to continue his rehab, is targeting “the first two weeks before the All-Star game. It’s probably in that area.”

Jabari Parker Back To G League For Practice

  • Another former top pick will continue his rehab in the G League today as well, with the Bucks announcing (via Twitter) that they’ve assigned Jabari Parker to the Wisconsin Herd. Parker will practice with the Herd again as he works his way back from his ACL tear.

Last Day For Teams To Sign Two-Way Deals, Apply For DPEs

January 15 is an important date on the NBA calendar. As we outlined earlier this morning, it’s the day that several of the players who signed free agent deals in 2017 become trade-eligible for the first time on those new deals. In addition to being the first day that those players can be traded, January 15 is also the last day for teams to complete certain roster moves. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Last day for teams to sign players to two-way contracts:

If you were following Hoops Rumors over the weekend, you likely noticed a flurry of roster moves involving two-way contracts. That’s because January 15 represents the deadline for teams to sign players to two-way deals. If a club doesn’t finalize a two-way signing today, it can’t do so for the remainder of the 2017/18 league year.

A handful of two-way signings reported over the weekend – including the Lakersdeal with Gary Payton II and a pair of Pistons agreements – will need to be made official today. Additionally, the Bucks, Timberwolves, and Wizards each still have an open two-way slot, as our tracker shows, so if they don’t want to leave that second slot empty all season, they’ll need to fill it today.

Salaries for all two-way players will become fully guaranteed for 2017/18 on January 20.

Last day for teams to apply for a disabled player exception:

As our glossary entry on the disabled player exception explains, the DPE is a tool that can be granted to teams by the NBA. It gives a club a one-time cap exception that can be used to replace a player who suffered a season-ending injury.

The Celtics applied for and received a disabled player exception back in the fall after Gordon Hayward went down, but the Nets didn’t file for a DPE after Jeremy Lin‘s season-ending injury that same week. They’re expected to do so by today’s deadline, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The Heat are also worth watching, since they’ll be eligible for a DPE if Dion Waiters is ruled out for the season, as is expected.

Nikola Mirotic, 15 Others Become Trade-Eligible

Today is January 15, which means that trade restrictions have lifted for most of the rest of the NBA’s 2017 offseason signees. While the majority of those ’17 free agents became trade-eligible on December 15, there was a small subset of free agent signees whose trade ineligibility lasted for another month.

The 16 players whose trade restrictions lift today meet a specific set of criteria: Not only did they re-sign with their previous teams this offseason, but they received raises of at least 20%, their salaries are worth more than the minimum, and their teams were over the cap, using Bird or Early Bird rights to sign them.

The most notable name in this group is Bulls power forward Nikola Mirotic. He’s not the best player on the list — Blake Griffin and Kyle Lowry would be among those vying for that honor. But Mirotic is the most likely player to be dealt out of the 16 guys becoming trade-eligible today. He has been linked to a handful of teams already, including the Jazz, Pistons, and Trail Blazers.

Here are the 16 players becoming trade-eligible today:

With three and a half weeks left until this season’s February 8 trade deadline, nearly all of the NBA’s players are now eligible to be dealt. The only players still ineligible to be moved are those who signed free agent contracts later than October 15, plus certain players who signed contract extensions in the offseason.

Hawks guard Isaiah Taylor (January 17), Nuggets forward Richard Jefferson (January 19), and Pelicans guard Jameer Nelson (January 22) are now the only remaining players who will become trade-eligible between today and February 8. For the full list of players who won’t become trade-eligible before this year’s deadline, click here.

Bucks Ownership Remains Optimistic For 50 Wins

Zach LaVine will be in the starting lineup when he makes his debut with the Bulls tonight, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. LaVine’s recovery from a torn left ACL took about 11 months, which is about two months longer than originally projected, but Chicago wanted to be sure he was fully healthy before letting him play.

“Extremely excited, ready to get back to playing again,” LaVine said. “You wait all this time, do all this rehab. It doesn’t simulate actual games. Going through practices and scrimmages don’t give you that full itch. Now I have something I can go after.”

LaVine will take over the starting spot occupied by Denzel Valentine, who has started 31 of the team’s 42 games. Justin Holiday will stay in the starting lineup, but will move to small forward. Coach Fred Hoiberg said LaVine will be restricted to 20 minutes per game for about a week, then his playing time will slowly expand.

There’s more news from the Central Division:

  • Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic is refusing to discuss his trade prospects, writes Chris Kuc of The Chicago Tribune. Mirotic, who has been linked to deals involving the Jazz, Pistons and Trail Blazers, will become eligible for a trade Monday. “To be honest I don’t listen too much to what is going on outside,” he said. “I just focus on what is going on here and up to my last day try to be the best player possible and be professional and help this team to be able to win.”
  • Kay Felder, who signed a two-way deal with the Pistons today, has been talking to the organization for a couple of weeks, tweets Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. The Pistons first contacted Felder when starting point guard Reggie Jackson suffered a sprained right ankle in late December. Felder, who has previous NBA experience with the Cavaliers and Bulls, will have 23 NBA days under his new deal and may spend most of that time filling in for Jackson, who isn’t expected back until after the All-Star break.
  • Bucks ownership remains hopeful for a 50-win season despite an up-and-down first half of the year, relays Rich Kirchen of The Milwaukee Business Journal. The Bucks hit the midpoint at 22-19, but there are reasons for optimism with the expected return of Jabari Parker next month and a possible trade for a center before the February 8 deadline. “I think 50 [wins] is tough,” said co-owner Marc Lasry. “We’ll be over 45. Hopefully we get to 50. That would be great. I hope so, but it’s going to be hard.”

Kyler’s Latest: Fournier, Jordan, Mirotic

The NBA’s G League Showcase is playing out in Mississauga, Ontario this week and the event has brought a plethora of league executives under the same roof. With next month’s trade deadline looming, it’s inevitable that the celebration of the NBA’s affiliate league also doubles as an unofficial chance for teams to discuss possible deals.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders has a number of updates from the Showcase, the highlights of which we’ll get into below. For a full breakdown of the trade chatter going down north of the border, check out the full feature here.

  • The Magic aren’t committing to the notion of “blowing the team up” but that’s the impression that teams on the other end of the phone seem to be getting. The club is supposedly going to be active ahead of the deadline and they want to make changes that help them shed salary. Kyler notes that guard Evan Fournier seems to be the player most teams have an interest in.
  • There remains a sense that DeAndre Jordan will be moved ahead of the deadline and the Bucks continue to be mentioned as the team most likely to make that happen. Kyler writes that a possible Jordan-to-Milwaukee deal could yield the Clippers John Henson, a young player and a draft pick. The Clips apparently like Malcolm Brogdon but his inclusion seems to be a non-starter.
  • The Jazz and Pistons are in pursuit of Nikola Mirotic and the deciding factor could possibly come down to Mirotic’s ability to veto a deal. Mirotic supposedly likes the idea of the Jazz and playing for Quin Snyder. At the end of the day, however, a Mirotic-to-Utah deal would likely require a first-round pick heading from the Jazz back to the Bulls, something Utah seems currently reluctant to part with.
  • Kyler notes that there’s belief that Joe Johnson will seek a buyout from the Jazz after the trade deadline if he isn’t dealt to a playoff-bound squad.
  • There isn’t any sense in NBA circles that Pelicans big man DeMarcus Cousins or Thunder forward Paul George could be move ahead of the deadline, although some teams may make an “11th hour run” at George.
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