Trail Blazers Rumors

Northwest Notes: Wolves, J. Butler, Mudiay, Favors

The Timberwolves‘ second stint with former No. 5 overall pick Ricky Rubio wasn’t the fairy tale reunion either side hoped for, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic in a breakdown of the team’s trade with Cleveland and what it means for the Wolves moving forward.

While the Wolves are receiving solid three-and-D wing Taurean Prince as the return for Rubio, Krawczynski writes that Prince isn’t viewed as the solution to the team’s long-running search for a starting power forward, but rather as a rotation wing.

One benefit to the deal is an added $4.8MM in cap flexibility, which could allow the Wolves to use their entire taxpayer mid-level exception while possibly adding last year’s first round pick Leandro Bolmaro as well. Kracwzynski writes that the team explored trades into the draft and for Hawksforward Danilo Gallinari, but in the end were satisfied with the return of Prince.

We have more news from around the Northwest Division:

  • Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune details the Jazz‘s excitement upon trading down in the draft to land Baylor guard Jared Butler with the 40th pick, as well as two future second rounders. Butler, whom Utah was initially targeting in the first round, is viewed as someone who can play off the bench immediately, or even fill in should the Jazz lose Mike Conley to free agency.
  • Veteran point guard Emmanuel Mudiay will play for the Trail Blazers during Summer League, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. The former No. 7 pick has bounced around the league since being traded from the team that drafted him, the Nuggets, to the Knicks in 2018, but the 25-year-old will be looking for a chance to get his career back on track with a strong showing in Las Vegas.
  • Derrick Favors was caught off-guard by the trade that will send him from the Jazz to the Thunder,writes Tony Jones of The Athletic. “Honestly, I’m still trying to process what happened,” Favors said. “It was tough to go to New Orleans, but I thought that there was a chance that I would come back to Utah. Now, I know this is it. So, there’s a lot to think about and a lot to work out.”

Trade Rumors: Raptors, McCollum, SGA, Celtics, Wolves

As long as Ben Simmons remains in Philadelphia and Kyle Lowry hasn’t reached an agreement in free agency, league sources aren’t ruling out the possibility of a deal between the Sixers and Raptors that would send Lowry to his hometown via sign-and-trade, says Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. However, with several suitors expected to pursue Lowry aggressively in free agency, that doesn’t appear to be a likely outcome for the time being.

According to Fischer, one intriguing trade framework that the Raptors have discussed with the Trail Blazers would involve Pascal Siakam and CJ McCollum. But those talks haven’t gathered any real momentum yet, Fischer cautions.

Here are a few more trade-related rumors and notes from around the NBA:

  • Although Shai Gilgeous-Alexander‘s name popped up in trade rumors leading up to the draft, the Thunder never offered him to the Cavaliers in negotiations for the No. 3 pick, according to Fischer, who reports that Oklahoma City only made present and future draft assets available in those discussions. The expectation is that the Thunder and Gilgeous-Alexander will reach an agreement on a maximum-salary contract extension this offseason, Fischer adds.
  • Before agreeing to a deal to acquire Josh Richardson from Dallas, the Celtics also expressed trade interest in Grizzlies wing Kyle Anderson, sources tell Fischer.
  • The Timberwolves, who have long been in the market for a power forward, inquired on Danilo Gallinari before agreeing to send Ricky Rubio to Cleveland, says Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. The Hawks turned down Minnesota’s offer for Gallinari.

Stein’s Latest: Simmons, Lowry, Raptors, Rockets, Theis

Earlier today, veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein reported that the Jazz are preparing a contract offer in the three-year, $75MM range for free agent point guard Mike Conley and said teams with interest in Hawks big man John Collins were growing increasingly pessimistic about landing him.

In his full Substack newsletter, Stein reiterates those points, noting that Collins seems intent on re-signing with the Hawks, and shares a handful of other tidbits related to free agency and the trade market. Let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • Stein dismisses rumors that the Sixers might be becoming more open to a trade structured around Ben Simmons and Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum, describing that idea as “ill-founded.” If Philadelphia is going to make a deal with Portland, Damian Lillard will be the target, says Stein. The 76ers, who aren’t inclined to do the Blazers any favors in their efforts to convince Lillard to remain in Portland, continue to insist they’re not in a rush to resolve the Simmons situation, Stein adds.
  • Kyle Lowry is the top free agent target for the Heat, Mavericks, and Pelicans, according to Stein, who wonders if the point guard’s close relationship with Jimmy Butler might give Miami a recruiting advantage once free agency begins.
  • Some rival teams believe the Raptors may become more willing to pursue a Pascal Siakam trade after drafting Scottie Barnes fourth overall on Thursday, per Stein.
  • There was “considerable chatter” leading up to the draft that veteran center Daniel Theis will be one of the Rockets‘ top priorities in free agency, says Stein. It’s not clear if Houston’s selection of Alperen Sengun in Thursday’s draft changes the team’s frontcourt plans at all.

Trail Blazers Expected To Add Trendon Watford On Two-Way Contract

The Trail Blazers are expected to add undrafted second-year LSU power forward Trendon Watford on a two-way contract, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter).

Watford is listed as the 10th-best undrafted rookie prospect on ESPN. The 6’9″ Birmingham, Alabama native was honored as a 2021 All-SEC Tourney selection and a 2020/21 All-SEC First Teamer.

Playing alongside guard Cameron Thomas (who was drafted with the No. 27 pick by the Nets tonight), the 20-year-old forward averaged 16.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.9 APG, and 1.1 SPG, on .480/.316/.651 shooting, in 28 games during his sophomore season in 2020/21.

An athletic rim-roller with a competitive inside floater, Watford could be an interesting addition in Portland.

Blazers Acquire No. 43 Pick Greg Brown From Pelicans

11:23pm: The trade is now official, deputy commissioner Mark Tatum announced on the NBA’s draft broadcast.

The Blazers are sending New Orleans a 2026 second-rounder in the deal, tweets Jason Quick of The Athletic. The Pelicans are also receiving cash considerations, as Lopez tweets.

10:53pm: The Trail Blazers have agreed to acquire the No. 43 pick in the draft from the Pelicans, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that Portland is using its newly-acquired selection to nab Texas power forward Greg Brown. Portland had no picks heading into the night.

Andrew Lopez of ESPN reports (Twitter link) that the Trail Blazers will be sending out a future second-rounder to the Pelicans in exchange for Brown.

The 6’9″ Brown was named to the Big 12 All-Freshman team during his lone year with the Longhorns. Across 26 games, including 24 starts, Brown averaged 9.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.0 BPG, and 0.6 SPG in just 20.6 MPG.

The Pelicans continue to add to their war chest of future draft equity with the move. They still will have had multiple selections in this draft when the dust settles, having drafted Virginia guard Trey Murphy with the No. 17 pick and Alabama forward Herb Jones with the No. 35 pick.

Luke Adams contributed to this report.

Hetzel Expected To Join Billups' Staff

  • Steve Hetzel is expected to join Chauncey Billups’ Trail Blazers’ staff, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report tweets. Hetzel had been on the Magic’s staff under former head coach Steve Clifford.

Ben Simmons “In Step” With Sixers’ Trade Efforts

Ben Simmons and his agent – Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul – are “in step” with the Sixers‘ efforts to trade the 25-year-old to a new team, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Sources tell Wojnarowski that the 76ers continue to canvass the NBA exploring potential trades involving Simmons and have established a “steep” asking price. While a draft-night trade is a possibility, the discussions may continue into the summer, according to Wojnarowski.

It remains unclear which teams will emerge as the most serious suitors for Simmons. A report earlier today indicated that the Heat, Wizards, and Raptors are possibilities. However, a subsequent report threw cold water on the Miami scenario, and Washington is likely only a realistic landing spot if Bradley Beal is going to Philadelphia — so far, there’s no indication Beal wants out of D.C.

Toronto’s interest in Simmons has been reported by multiple outlets, though it’s unclear if there’s a realistic match between the two division rivals.

Matt Moore of reported earlier this week that the Sixers proposed a framework that included Kyle Lowry (via sign-and-trade), Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and the fourth overall pick, which Toronto obviously rejected. If that report is accurate and Philadelphia’s asking price remains anywhere near that high, it’s probably safe to assume the Raptors will look elsewhere for roster upgrades.

Meanwhile, as Jeff Garcia of News 4 San Antonio relays, Kevin O’Connor said on The Ringer’s The Mismatch podcast that the Sixers are rumored to have asked the Spurs for four first-round picks, three pick swaps, and a young player in exchange for Simmons.

O’Connor added that he doesn’t expect Simmons to be moved unless Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey drastically lowers his asking price or a player like Beal or Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard becomes available and Philadelphia uses Simmons as the centerpiece of an offer.

Amick’s Latest: Lakers, Hield, Sixers, Simmons, Lillard

Of all the trade and free agent scenarios the Lakers are rumored to be considering, a deal with the Kings for Buddy Hield seems to be the “most promising” so far, a source tells Sam Amick of The Athletic.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that Hield is the Lakers’ top target this offseason, but it indicates that a trade with the Kings is a more realistic option for L.A. than acquiring a higher-level player like Chris Paul or Kyle Lowry, given the team’s cap constraints. A Hield trade would involve Kyle Kuzma and may require Montrezl Harrell to exercise his $9.7MM player option in order to be included in the package, writes Amick.

Here’s more on Hield, along with a few other tidbits from Amick related to free agency and the trade market:

  • The Lakers aren’t the only team with some interest in Hield. A source with knowledge of the trade discussions tells Amick that the Sixers have also displayed interest in the veteran sharpshooter (unrelated to a Ben Simmons deal), and other teams are believed to have talked to the Kings about him as well. Amick believes Hield is a good candidate to be on the move this summer.
  • It looks increasingly likely that the Sixers will move Simmons will this offseason, according to Amick, who says one source identified the Heat, Raptors, and Wizards as some of the most likely landing spots for Simmons. Washington would probably only be a realistic trade partner if Bradley Beal is in play, however. Meanwhile, Kyle Neubeck of expresses skepticism that any deal sending Simmons to Miami would be a good fit for both the Heat and Sixers.
  • Sources tell Amick that Damian Lillard is expected to continue focusing on earning gold with Team USA for the time being and will reassess the Trail Blazers‘ roster later in the offseason before making any decisions about his future.

Fischer’s Latest: Simmons, Beal, J. Richardson, Jazz, Kemba

Having claimed earlier in the week that the Sixers hadn’t really been able to get in touch with Ben Simmons this offseason, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report clarifies in his latest article that the team’s brass has maintained contact with Simmons and his representatives. However, the 76ers have been “unable to collaborate” so far on a summer development plan for the former No. 1 pick.

Although league executives who have spoken to Fischer speculate that the Sixers may try to hang onto Simmons in the hopes that Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard will eventually ask out of Portland, the “overwhelming” expectation is that Simmons will be dealt before the start of the 2021/22 season. Of the early discussions Philadelphia has had about the Defensive Player of the Year runner-up, talks with the Raptors are thought to be the most advanced, Fischer adds.

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • As Bradley Beal continues to weigh his future with the Wizards, there’s a growing expectation around the league that the All-Star guard might still decide he wants to stay in D.C., says Fischer.
  • The Mavericks have explored trade scenarios involving Josh Richardson, according to Fischer. Richardson still has to make a decision on his $11.6MM player option for 2021/22, but if he opts in, his expiring contract represents a logical trade chip if Dallas wants the flexibility to make a run at a top free agent.
  • After previously identifying Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles, and Royce O’Neale as potential trade candidates if the Jazz look to trim team salary, Fischer now says O’Neale is likely to stick around, but Bogdanovic and/or Ingles could still be moved. Utah has also explored the possibility of trading Derrick Favors along with the No. 30 pick, Fischer adds.
  • The Thunder‘s front office believes it should be able to flip Kemba Walker for assets this summer if his medicals are good, according to Fischer (Twitter link). Walker’s contract, which has two years and $73.7MM left on it, isn’t favorable, so Oklahoma City would likely need to take on an equally bad deal – or multiple unwanted contracts – in order to acquire assets with positive value.

Derrick Jones Jr. To Exercise Player Option

Trail Blazers forward Derrick Jones Jr. is set to exercise his $9.7MM player option for 2021/22, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The 6’5″ forward, 24, was a role player during his first season with Portland. After going undrafted out of UNLV in 2016, the athletic Jones first caught on with the Suns before eventually linking up for a three-season stint with the Heat, which included a 2020 NBA Finals run.

Jones’s offensive contributions with the Trail Blazers this past season were fairly modest, but he made an effective impact as a versatile defender. He averaged 6.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 0.9 BPG across 22.7 MPG during the regular season. Jones suited up for 58 contests with the team, including 43 starts, falling out of the rotation down the stretch.

With Jones now in the fold, the Trail Blazers have eight players on fully guaranteed contracts for the upcoming season. Center Jusuf Nurkic‘s $12MM deal with the club is partially guaranteed, but he’s unlikely to be waived, despite being healthy for just 45 of a possible 146 games during his last two seasons with Portland.

Starting Portland shooting guard Norman Powell, who had an $11.6MM player option ahead of the 2021/22 season, declined his player option last week.

The Trail Blazers decided to not extend a $7MM qualifying offer to injury-prone power forward Zach Collins, thus making him an unrestricted free agent. Collins has appeared in just 154 of a possible 310 games across his four NBA seasons.