Trail Blazers Rumors

Blazers Worked Out 12 Prospects Within Last Week

The Trail Blazers, who hold just one pick – No. 25 overall – in this year’s draft, brought in a total of 24 prospects for workouts, according to Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com.

In addition to the 12 prospects whose names we previously relayed, the Trail Blazers also brought in David Crisp (Washington), Matur Maker (Slovenia), KZ Okpala (Stanford), Samir Sehic (Tulane), Jaylin Walker (Kent State), Cameron Young (Quinnipiac), Vic Law (Northwestern), Ignas Brazdeikis (Michigan), Talen Horton-Tucker (Iowa State), Louis King (Oregon), Admiral Schofield (Tennessee), Rayjon Tucker (Little Rock) over the last week.

Not all of those players are candidates to be selected 25th overall, so the Trail Blazers were also doing their homework on potential undrafted free agent signings — or possibly even second-round picks, if Portland opts to trade back into the draft.

Cavaliers Notes: Garland, Sexton, Culver, Smith

The Cavaliers were well represented at Darius Garland‘s private workout Friday night in Los Angeles, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Cleveland officials had been hoping for a close-up look at the Vanderbilt point guard, whose Klutch Sports representatives limited his availability early in the pre-draft process.

There’s no guarantee Garland will still be on the board when the Cavs pick at No. 5, as the Pelicans now hold the fourth pick and are reportedly receiving strong interest from teams looking to move up. There are questions surrounding Garland’s durability after he played just four games in college before suffering a meniscus injury, but many teams view him as a potential All-Star because of his exceptional shooting and ball-handling, along with the ability to take charge of an offense.

The No. 4 pick may be more unpredictable now that the Lakers are sending it to New Orleans in the Anthony Davis trade, Fedor adds. The Suns and Bulls might trade up for Garland if they believe he’s significantly better than Coby White, while the Hawks, who own the eighth and 10th picks, may decide to move up for Jarrett Culver.

The Cavs wouldn’t be afraid to team Garland with last year’s No. 1 pick, Collin Sexton, even though that would be an undersized backcourt with a pair of 6’2″ guards. Fedor notes that the organization is early enough in the rebuilding process that draft decisions will be based more on talent than fit.

There’s more from Cleveland, all courtesy of Fedor:

  • Even though the Cavaliers were hoping for a top three pick, they’re confident they can add a contributor at No. 5. De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish are on their radar as well as Garland and Culver.

Blazers Work Out Six Guard Prospects

  • The Trail Blazers took a look at six guard and wing prospects in their latest pre-draft workout on Monday, according to a team press release. Boston College’s Ky Bowman, Brewster Academy’s Jalen Lecque, Clemson’s Shelton Mitchell, Nebraska’s James Palmer Jr., Oregon State’s Stephen Thompson and Belmont’s Dylan Windler were the participants. Lecque is ranked No. 48 overall by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.
  • Former NBA guard Jamaal Franklin participated in a free agent mini-camp with the Trail Blazers, according to Sportando’s Nicola Lupo. Franklin averaging 32.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, eight assists, and 2.4 steals this past season with the Sichuan Blue Whales in China. He last played in the league during the 2014-15 season with Denver. Franklin also recently participated in a Kings mini-camp.

Team USA Announces 20-Player Camp Roster For World Cup

USA Basketball has officially announced the group of 20 players that will participate in training camp this summer in advance of the 2019 FIBA World Cup. The camp will take place from August 5-9, and will be used to select the 12-man roster for this year’s World Cup in China.

The 20-man training camp roster is as follows:

  1. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  2. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  3. Anthony Davis (Pelicans)
  4. Andre Drummond (Pistons)
  5. Eric Gordon (Rockets)
  6. James Harden (Rockets)
  7. Tobias Harris (Sixers / FA)
  8. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  9. Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers)
  10. Brook Lopez (Bucks / FA)
  11. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  12. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  13. CJ McCollum (Trail Blazers)
  14. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  15. Paul Millsap (Nuggets)
  16. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  17. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  18. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  19. P.J. Tucker (Rockets)
  20. Kemba Walker (Hornets / FA)

“I am excited about getting to training camp in August and working with all of the players that have been selected to attend the USA National Team training camp in Las Vegas,” Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich said in a statement. “We’ve got an excellent cross-section of veteran USA Basketball and NBA players, as well as some exciting younger players who possess amazing versatility.

“I’m appreciative of commitment that our National Team players continue to make, and the eagerness of the new players to become involved,” Popovich continued. “Selecting a 12-man team will be extremely difficult.”

It will be an eventful summer for many of the players on the 20-man Team USA training camp roster. Besides Harris, Lopez, and Walker, who are all headed for unrestricted free agency and could be on new teams by August, players like Barnes, Middleton, and Millsap could reach the open market if their player or team options are declined. Others – including Davis, Gordon, Kuzma, Tatum, and Tucker – have been mentioned in trade rumors.

Kuzma and Mitchell are the only players on the roster who haven’t played internationally for Team USA in the past. Five player on the roster (Barnes, Davis, Harden, Love, and Lowry) have won gold medals for USA Basketball at the 2012 or 2016 Olympics, while two others (Drummond and Gordon) have taken home gold at previous World Cups.

Previous reports indicated that Zion Williamson, John Collins, and Marvin Bagley are expected to be among the players named to a 10-man select team that will scrimmage with Team USA’s 20-man roster at the training camp in August.

Wolves Hiring David Vanterpool As Associate Head Coach

The Timberwolves are hiring David Vanterpool away from the Trail Blazers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that Vanterpool will be Ryan Saunders‘ new associate head coach.

As Wojnarowski explains, Vanterpool will play a key role on Saunders’ new staff and will be in charge of running the team’s defense.

Vanterpool, who played basketball professionally up until 2007, became an assistant on CSKA Moscow’s staff following his retirement as a player. He joined the Blazers’ staff when Terry Stotts was hired in 2012 and played a role in the development of Portland’s star guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

Long viewed as an NBA head coaching candidate, Vanterpool reportedly met with the Suns and Cavaliers about their open positions this spring before they hired Monty Williams and John Beilein, respectively. The Timberwolves also reportedly had some interest in Vanterpool as a possible head coach before they decided to retain Saunders.

Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News first reported last week that the Wolves were eyeing Vanterpool as a lead assistant.

More Names Revealed For Team USA World Cup Tryouts

Team USA’s training camp roster for the FIBA World Cup will be announced next week, but four players have already been confirmed, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Anthony Davis, James Harden, Donovan Mitchell and Kemba Walker will definitely be part of the team, while the other 14 slots are still being worked out. The roster will be trimmed to 12 when the players gather in Las Vegas in early August to prepare for the tournament, which takes place from August 31 to September 15 in China.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski drops a few more names in a full story on the World Cup tryouts, which sources tell him are also expected to include Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Bradley Beal and Kevin Love. Others planning to be part of the camp include Eric Gordon, Jayson Tatum, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, LaMarcus Aldridge, Andre Drummond and Kyle Kuzma.

P.J. Tucker will attend training camp as well, tweets ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, and league sources tell Woj that Paul Millsap also plans to be there. Other names leaked for the camp are Tobias Harris (Twitter link from Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer) and Myles Turner (Twitter link from Scott Agness of the Athletic).

Zion Williamson, expected to be the first pick in the draft later this month, has been invited to camp as part of the 10-man select team that will scrimmage against the 18-man roster, Stein tweets. Williamson will be given a chance to play his way onto the final roster if he has a standout performance in that role, according to USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo (Twitter link).

The select team will also include John Collins and Marvin Bagley, tweets Tim Bomtemps of ESPN.

The camp will be held from August 5-8, with exhibition games to follow before the start of World Cup play. Gregg Popovich will serve as head coach.

Five Non-Bird Free Agents Who May Be Difficult To Re-Sign

Every player who finishes a season as a member of an NBA roster gets some form of Bird rights as a free agent, allowing his team to go over the cap to re-sign him. However, a player who spent just one year with his club typically only has Non-Bird rights, which are the weakest form of Bird rights, as their oxymoronic name suggests.

With the Non-Bird exception, a team can re-sign a player for up to four years and give him a raise, but that raise has to be a modest one. Non-Bird rights allow for a starting salary worth up to 120% of the player’s previous salary. In other words, a Non-Bird free agent who earned $5MM can only get a starting salary worth up to $6MM on his new deal unless his team uses cap room or another exception to bring him back.

This cap restriction will apply specifically to a handful of players around the NBA who appear to be in line for raises this summer. Because these players will be Non-Bird free agents, their teams’ ability to re-sign them will be limited.

Let’s take a closer look at five players who fit this bill for the 2019 offseason:

  1. DeMarcus Cousins, Warriors (maximum Non-Bird salary: $6,404,400): Cousins’ future has been a popular topic of discussion since the day he signed his one-year contract with the Warriors, since it didn’t appear there was any way for the club to retain him unless he was willing to accept another discount deal. After suffering a torn quad in April, Cousins looked like a possible candidate for another one-year, prove-it contract, but if he continues to shine in the NBA Finals like he did in Game 2, he’ll be able to do better than that on the open market, reducing the likelihood of a return to Golden State.
  2. Brook Lopez, Bucks (maximum Non-Bird salary: $4,058,400): As I outlined over the weekend, the Bucks can actually create up to about $10MM in cap room without renouncing free agents Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon or waiving non-guaranteed players like Sterling Brown and Pat Connaughton. If Milwaukee wants to retain Lopez, the team may need to go that route, since he’ll be seeking a much bigger salary than the $3.38MM he earned in 2018/19. Having proven he’s capable of stretching the floor on offense and protecting the rim on defense, he deserves it.
  3. Austin Rivers, Rockets (maximum Non-Bird salary: 120% of the minimum): After being bought out by Phoenix, Rivers signed with the Rockets for the minimum. Now they won’t be able to offer him more than about $2.77MM without using cap room or the taxpayer mid-level exception. Given how well he played for Houston in the second half, Rivers should do better than that on the open market. Teammate Kenneth Faried may be in a similar boat, having joined the Rockets on a post-buyout minimum-salary deal of his own.
  4. Seth Curry, Trail Blazers (maximum Non-Bird salary: $3,354,000): The Trail Blazers have three key Non-Bird free agents who will be tough to bring back. Besides Curry, Rodney Hood and Enes Kanter also fall into that group. Portland would probably like to retain all three players, and it’s hard to say which one would be missed most if he signs elsewhere. But my pick is Curry, whose .450 3PT% in the regular season (and .404 playoff 3PT%) was crucial for a team that didn’t have a ton of outside shooting.
  5. Michael Carter-Williams, Magic (maximum Non-Bird salary: 120% of the minimum): Like Rivers, Carter-Williams was an in-season minimum-salary addition. The former Rookie of the Year rejuvenated his career with the Magic down the stretch, providing some stability behind D.J. Augustin at the point and helping fortify one of the NBA’s best second-half defenses. Carter-Williams won’t get as big a raise as most of the other players on this list, but Orlando will face competition for his services this summer and may lose him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Wolves, Forcier, Vanterpool, Thunder

With Ricky Rubio set to become an unrestricted free agent on June 30, the Jazz could be in the market for a new starting point guard moving forward, Kincade Upstill of the Deseret News writes.

Rubio made a rather interesting comment this weekend, sharing that Utah won’t be aggressively trying to re-sign him when he reaches the open market. “Utah has already let me know I’m not a priority for them,” he said, according to Ernest Macia of Catalunya Radio.

The Jazz could pursue other available point guards in free agency such as Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Malcolm Brogdon, D’Angelo Russell or Derrick Rose if the franchise mutually agrees to part ways with Rubio, who has served as the team’s starting point guard over the last two seasons. However, Jazz vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey went on the record to state that Ricky could still re-sign on a new contract.

“He’s got a decision to make on his end and we’ve got a decision to make on our end, but there’s a lot of scenarios I can see Ricky back. … We really appreciate who he is and we think we can get him better from a health perspective and skill standpoint,” Lindsey said, according to Upstill. “We know who he is — he has Jazz DNA. So he’ll have options, we’ll have options and we’ll talk to him and his agent.”

Rubio’s name surfaced in rumors around this season’s February 7 trade deadline, likely causing some trust issues between him and the organization. He holds career-averages of 11.1 points, 7.7 assists and 30.9 minutes across his eight NBA seasons.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division tonight:

Trail Blazers Notes: Kanter, Aminu, Workout, Durant

Enes Kanter received a hero’s welcome Saturday as he returned to Oklahoma City for his annual youth basketball camp, writes Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. The former Thunder center remains popular with local fans, many of whom encouraged him to return to OKC in free agency. While Kanter might be too pricey for the Thunder to consider, he can count on receiving a lot of offers after rebuilding his stock in Portland following his release by the Knicks.

The Trail Blazers were aggressive in recruiting Kanter, who also received interest from the Thunder and Lakers. Repeated calls and texts from coach Terry Stotts, GM Neil Olshey and Damian Lillard were enough to tip the scales in Portland’s favor, which became fortunate when starting center Jusuf Nurkic was lost for the season with a broken leg.

“I’m glad that Portland happened,” Kanter said. “I love Portland, I love the people there, I love the fans there. I just want to go – and Portland counts, too – somewhere I can win games. I’m going into my ninth year. I just want to go somewhere where I have a good situation, have some playing time and just win.”

There’s more Trail Blazers news to pass along:

  • Al-Farouq Aminu‘s agent is open to negotiating an extension with Portland before his client hits free agency, but the Blazers may not be able to afford a substantial raise, relays Jason Quick of The Athletic. “He wants to be there,” Raymond Brothers said. “He’s still committed to the Blazers. He likes the city, the team, the coach, he likes Neil. He’s happy. He just wants to win.” Any extension would be limited to $48MM over four years. Aminu made $6.96MM this season.
  • The Trail Blazers brought in six players Friday for their first pre-draft workout, notes Casey Holdahl of NBA.com. The session featured Wake Forest’s Jaylen Hoard, Memphis’ Jeremiah Martin, Arizona State’s Luguentz Dort, Wichita State’s Markis McDuffie, St. John’s Shamorie Ponds and Shaw University’s Amir Hinton. Portland enters the draft with just one pick, its first-rounder at No. 25.
  • Lillard is asking an Oakland-based rapper to help convince Kevin Durant to come to Portland, relays Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area. Mistah F.A.B. joined Lillard on Instagram Live following Game 1 of the NBA Finals and asked him which free agent the Blazers should pursue. “Just go in there and tell KD, say ‘KD, just go to Portland, bruh. I’m a Portland fan,'” Lillard responded. “You a Portland fan now, so just be like, ‘Bruh they left Oakland anyways, so just go to Portland.'”

Blazers Notes: Ownership, Nurkic, Hood, Kanter

While there’s a perception in NBA circles that the Trail Blazers‘ ownership situation is unsettled in the wake of Paul Allen‘s death last fall, the team’s head of basketball operations, Neil Olshey, doesn’t subscribe to that notion, as Jason Quick of The Athletic relays.

“Nothing is unsettled. Jody is our owner,” Olshey said during the Blazers’ exit interviews, referring to Paul’s sister Jody Allen. “She has been fantastic in terms of engagement. She has addressed the team when we’ve asked her to. She was really emotional after the OKC series, that was the validation, knowing how much Paul believed in the core of this group and to see it come to fruition.

“Jody stepped up and spoke to the team in a way that resonated with everybody and struck a chord with the players and staff and everyone there that she has our back, she has a vision for the franchise, she believes in the group, she cares about the players, and the magnitude of what she has had to take on,” Olshey continued, per Quick. “At a time when we needed ownership to show solidarity with the front office, the coaching staff, the business division, she was there for us.”

Allen has exhibited that commitment to the franchise since Portland’s season ended earlier this month, having locked up Olshey and head coach Terry Stotts to contract extensions.

Here’s more on the Blazers:

  • According to Olshey (via Quick), injured Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic is making “great progress” from his broken left leg. While the team hasn’t offered a specific recovery timetable for Nurkic, Quick speculates that the big man could be ready to return to action sometime just before next season’s All-Star break. “Guys can’t believe where he is relative to what they saw only four weeks ago,” Olshey said of Nurkic. “He is a core piece to this roster, a foundational piece going forward, and we are going to drive him. But also knowing we are going to do what’s best for Nurk on a long-term basis in terms of his recovery and his timeline.”
  • The Blazers aren’t expecting to be able to retain Rodney Hood or Enes Kanter using the taxpayer mid-level exception (projected to be worth about $5.7MM), writes Quick. If the club can shed enough salary to gain access to the full mid-level exception – or Hood and Kanter don’t receive as much interest as anticipated – Hood would likely be the priority over Kanter, in Quick’s view.
  • Quick doesn’t expect the Blazers’ three big expiring contracts for Evan Turner, Meyers Leonard, and Maurice Harkless to garner a ton of interest on the trade market this offseason, contending that they could become more intriguing trade chips during the season.
  • Former St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds is set to work out for the Trail Blazers on Friday, tweets Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com. According to Quick, Portland will likely only hold “three or four” pre-draft workouts since the club has just one pick (No. 25) in this year’s draft.