- The Trail Blazers are in a better spot than they were last season entering the stretch run, an Associated Press story notes. They were sixth in the West a year ago at the All-Star break but held the fourth spot this season. Moreover, the Blazers picked up some reinforcements this winter by signing center Enes Kanter and trading for guard Rodney Hood.
Enes Kanter‘s decision in free agency came down to two teams: the Trail Blazers and Lakers. Kanter, of course, chose to join the Blazers less than two weeks after being waived by the Knicks, labeling one major reason why he made his choice.
“I think it’s just the culture,” Kanter said, according to Casey Holdahl of NBA.com. “After I got released from the Knicks I got a lot of offers but I just wanted to wait. After (Blazers president of basketball operations) Neil (Olshey) talked to me, I was like ‘You know what, I think Portland is the team that I want to go to because I already know their good culture from four years ago when they offered be the contract.’ I think it’s the best decision for me. Then Dame (Lillard) texted me and I was like, ‘You know what, this is the best place that I can (be).’ Be with the team and go far.”
Kanter, a bruising center who holds career-averages of 11.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, is expected to provide depth off Portland’s bench as the postseason nears. He has an opportunity to prove his worth on a competitive team ahead of free agency, joining the Blazers as a locker room leader and veteran presence.
“It’s amazing, like a first year of school,” Kanter said. “I was actually nervous but I think they help me a lot. Amazing locker (room). From the first moment that I stepped in everybody was trying to help, talking to me about lots of stuff. It’s become very easy, I feel like I’ve been a part of this team for a long time from the first day.”
There’s more from the Northwest Division tonight:
- New Thunder forward Markieff Morris was cleared two weeks ago and is “feeling great,” Royce Young of ESPN tweets. Morris officially signed with Oklahoma City this week, having being diagnosed with transient cervical neuropraxia in his neck early last month.
- Dante Exum participated in his first practice with the Jazz on Thursday since suffering a left ankle sprain in January, Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News writes. “It was great,” teammate Rudy Gobert said about seeing Exum in practice, according to Woodyard. “I think when he’s playing well, he can have a big impact for us and having him back soon is going to help us a lot.” Exum was re-evaluated by the team and ruled out for Friday’s game against Oklahoma City, though his return date doesn’t appear to be far off. He’s missed 17 straight games with the injury.
- Blazers star Damian Lillard explained why he’s stayed with the team throughout his career, appearing on the Posted Up podcast with Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes this week. “I’m not willing to sell myself out for championships,” Lillard said. Lillard, drafted by Portland in 2012 with the No. 6 overall pick, is currently in his seventh season with the franchise.
Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Northwest Division:
Tyler Lydon, Nuggets, 22, PF (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $3.45MM deal in 2017
Lydon was the 24th overall pick in 2017 and acquired from Utah in a draft-day deal. He didn’t make much of an impression as a rookie, as the Nuggets declined his third-year option in October. Lydon has appeared in 21 games this season, mostly during garbage time. At the G League level, Lydon has averaged 5.3 three-point attempts and made 36.7%. He’s also rebounded well (8.5 in 31.3 MPG). He’ll be seeking a fresh start this summer, most likely with a rebuilding team that can offer him a greater opportunity.
Anthony Tolliver, Timberwolves, 33, PF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $5.75MM deal in 2018
Tolliver carved out a steady role under former Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy and delivered a career year last season. He averaged 8.9 PPG in 22.2 MPG and shot 43.6% from distance, and when he hit the free agent market, he drew interest from the Clippers, Mavericks, and Sixers as well as the Timberwolves. It hasn’t gone well in Minnesota, as Tolliver completely dropped out of Tom Thibodeau’s rotation in mid-November. He’s seen more action under Ryan Saunders but hasn’t made an impact. He’ll likely have to settle for the veteran’s minimum this summer to stay in the league.
Nerlens Noel, Thunder, 24, PF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $3.74MM deal in 2018
Noel has a player option worth less than $2MM and it’s likely he’ll decline it and take his chances on the open market. Noel has carved out a steady bench role with the Thunder and provided a defensive presence, along with an occasional scoring outburst. His Defensive Box Plus/Minus rating, according to Basketball-Reference, is an outstanding 5.8. He posted a 22-point, 13-rebound stat line in 22 minutes in a loss to New Orleans on Thursday. Noel, the sixth overall pick in 2013, has revived his career to some extent after a lost season in Dallas.
Al-Farouq Aminu, Trail Blazers, 28, PF (Up) — Signed to a four-year, $30MM deal in 2015
The quintessential glue guy, Aminu never puts up big numbers but he does a little bit of everything for a playoff-bound team in the West. He’s averaging a career-best 7.9 RPG in 29.0 MPG and his defensive versatility makes him indispensable on a team lacking in stoppers. He’s also become a respectable – if not prolific – 3-point shooter (35.8%). It certainly wouldn’t be surprising if Aminu re-signs with Portland but he’ll have several suitors in July and shouldn’t have any trouble getting a multi-year deal.
Royce O’Neale, Jazz, 25, SF (Up)– Signed to a three-year, $3.8MM deal in 2017
O’Neale, undrafted out of Baylor, has been a rotation player all season for Utah. He’s often the the last offensive option on the court but he’s pumped up his production this month. He averaged 13.8 PPG and 4.3 RPG in the last four games prior to the All-Star break. He’s shooting an outstanding 43.9% from long range and advanced defensive metrics are also kind to him (2.2 Defensive Box Plus/Minus). O’Neale’s $1.62MM salary for next season isn’t fully guaranteed until next January but the Jazz might do that a lot sooner and perhaps even negotiate an extension with the swingman.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Rodney Hood had the ability to veto a trade this season, but was entirely on board with the deal that sent him from Cleveland to Portland, as he tells Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. While Hood didn’t go so far as to say he got to “pick” his new team, he admitted that the veto ability gave him the power to maneuver his way to a club he wanted to join — like the Trail Blazers.
“When I heard Portland, I looked at the situation and the opportunity to play minutes in an offense and system that, I think, really fits my style of play,” Hood said of his move to the Trail Blazers. “I also think with their community and their fan base, my personality will really fit in as well. I think it was a no-brainer to me to come out here and be part of what they have going on.”
Here’s more from out of the Northwest:
- Isaiah Thomas made his Nuggets debut, appearing in an NBA game for the first time since last March. Christopher Dempsey of Nuggets.com has a Q&A with Thomas about his long road back from hip surgery, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic relays the point guard’s impressions of his return, and Harrison Wind of BSNDenver.com examines how Thomas impacted the team even when he wasn’t playing.
- The Thunder, who dipped to 12 players this month, are back up to 14 after signing Scotty Hopson and Richard Solomon to 10-day contracts, but they may just be short-term options. Erik Horne of The Oklahoman explores other ways in which the Thunder could use their open roster spots down the stretch.
- Prior to the trade deadline, when the Jazz were said to have interest in Mike Conley, one report indicated that the veteran point guard wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea of heading to Utah. Conley denied the rumor, and Jazz owner Gayle Miller later suggested that she’s unconcerned about the idea that players might not want to come to Salt Lake City. “I think Utah is a great place to live,” Miller said, per Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News. “It’s beautiful and I wish more people had a better perception of it, but I don’t feel it’s my mission to change that. I think we do that some with our basketball team by having great players, players of good character who conduct themselves well and I think they all like it here.”
10:15pm: The Blazers have officially signed Kanter, the club confirmed in a press release.
3:50pm: After being released by the Knicks last week, Enes Kanter has lined up a new NBA home, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, Kanter and the Trail Blazers have reached an agreement on a deal.
Kanter confirmed the news himself, tweeting that he’s signing with Portland for the rest of the season. Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter) that the Trail Blazers beat out multiple suitors, including the Lakers, for the big man’s services.
Things have gone full circle now between Kanter and the Blazers, who originally signed him to a four-year, $70MM offer sheet during 2015’s free agent period. The Thunder matched that offer and retained Kanter, then later traded him to the Knicks. The veteran center was in the final year of that four-year contract this season before New York waived him, allowing him to return to the free agent market.
The Blazers roster that Kanter is joining now looks much different than it did in 2015, and the role he’ll play probably won’t be the same as the one the team envisioned four years ago. However, he’s expected to see a “good share of minutes” in Portland, according to Wojnarowski. The 26-year-old figures to slot in as Jusuf Nurkic‘s backup at the five, perhaps cutting into Meyers Leonard‘s and/or Zach Collins‘ playing time.
While he was ultimately removed the Knicks’ rotation in recent weeks as the team prioritized developing its youth, Kanter was as productive as ever in his 44 games this season, posting a double-double (14.0 PPG and 10.5 RPG) in just 25.6 minutes per contest.
The Blazers won’t have to make a corresponding roster move to officially sign Kanter, since they had an open roster spot.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The NBA confirmed today that 2019’s trade deadline set and matched some records. The 14 trades completed on Thursday were the most made on a deadline day in the last 30 years, and the 19 teams involved in those swaps was tied for the most over that same period.
In total, 34 players were involved in those 14 trades — and that doesn’t even count the eight deals completed during the week leading up to the deadline, as we detailed last night.
Needless to say, there has been plenty of roster upheaval around the NBA, so we’re going to use this space to take a look at all 30 teams’ roster situations to see exactly where they stand. Does your favorite team have a full roster? Or is their roster somehow only two-thirds full? Looking at you, Raptors.
Here’s a breakdown of all 30 clubs’ roster situations at the time of this post’s publication (more moves will be made in the coming days or even hours that won’t be noted here, so keep that in mind):
The Hawks entered the week with 15 players, but had to waive Daniel Hamilton to clear a spot to acquire Jabari Bird. They subsequently traded Tyler Dorsey for Shelvin Mack, then waived both Bird and Mack.
They currently have 13 players on their roster, leaving two open spots. They’ll have two weeks to get back to the league-mandated minimum of 14 players.
After carrying 15 players all season, the Celtics traded Jabari Bird to create an open roster spot. They’ll explore the buyout market for candidates to fill that opening.
The Nets entered the week with 14 players on standard contracts and one (Mitch Creek) on a 10-day deal. Creek’s contract was terminated a few days early to make room for Greg Monroe, who was waived after being acquired from Toronto.
Brooklyn now has 14 players under contract and could opt to re-add Creek (albeit on a full-season contract), sign another player, or leave that spot empty for now.
The Hornets had a quiet week and continue to carry 14 players, leaving one open roster spot.
Subsequently, Cleveland flipped Stauskas and Baldwin to Houston in exchange for Marquese Chriss and Brandon Knight, with Alec Burks heading to Sacramento in that three-team deal. The 3-for-2 move left the Cavs with 14 players and an open roster spot.
They’re currently at 15 players, but will be releasing Randolph very soon to create an open roster spot.
The Nuggets didn’t make any moves this week and continue to carry a full 15-man roster.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors didn’t make any moves this week and still have 14 players under contract, leaving an opening for potential buyout targets.
A late first-round pick in 2016, Labissiere has barely played this season, appearing in 13 games and averaging 8.7 minutes per night. The Kings already picked up his option for next season, which will pay him $2,3MM.
Swanigan is averaging 8.1 minutes in 18 games. He will make a little more than $2MM next year.
The Clippers‘ decision to trade Tobias Harris was part of their larger plan to sign Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard this summer, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic. With its current roster, L.A. can create up to $53.19MM in cap room, enough for one maximum contract and about $20MM to chase a second star. But Amick reports that the Clippers have a plan to open space for two max deals, even if they can’t find a taker for Danilo Gallinari before today’s trade deadline. Gallinari is owed $22.6MM for next season.
The Clippers are also excited about the assets they received in the Sixers deal, Amick adds. They weren’t committed to giving Harris a max offer this summer, so they moved him for four draft picks (Miami’s first-rounder in 2021, Philadelphia’s first-rounder in 2020 with three years of lottery protection, plus Detroit’s second-rounders in 2021 and 2023) plus a promising rookie in Landry Shamet.
Amick also notes that Steve Ballmer’s willingness to spend gives the Clippers an edge in building a contender. He’s by far the wealthiest owner in the NBA and has connections to the tech industry that many players find appealing.
There’s more from the Western Conference:
- Free agency is nearly five months away, but Durant is already testy about speculation over his future, relays Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. Breaking a week-long silence with the media, Durant lashed out at reporters after Wednesday’s game. “I have nothing to do with the Knicks,” he said. “I don’t know who traded (Kristaps) Porzingis. That’s got nothing to do with me. I’m trying to play basketball. Y’all come in here every day, ask me about free agency, ask my teammates, my coaches, rile up the fans about it. Let us play basketball. That’s all I’m saying.”
- The Mavericks have traded four of their five starters over the past week as they start to build a new team around Luka Doncic, notes Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News. Harrison Barnes was sent to Sacramento last night after last week’s blockbuster that brought in Porzingis for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews. “This week is a zoo,” coach Rick Carlisle said, “but that’s part of the compelling business of our league.”
- The Trail Blazers have a $3.5MM trade exception remaining if they want to swing one more deal before the deadline, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Portland declined the chance to create a pair of small exceptions worth $1.5MM in the trade for Rodney Hood.
- Pelicans center Jahlil Okafor has chosen an agent after being without representation since September, tweets Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal. He signed with Excel Sports and will have Sean Kennedy as his agent.
The Pelicans remain on the lookout for potential trades involving players besides Anthony Davis, but Will Guillory of The Athletic suggests (via Twitter) that Julius Randle seems unlikely to be moved this week. According to Guillory, Randle has developed a strong bond with the coaching staff in New Orleans and the club has interest in keeping him around long-term.
Another frontcourt Pelicans player, Nikola Mirotic, remains a trade candidate, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who names the Jazz, Trail Blazers, Nets, and Spurs as clubs that have expressed interest in Mirotic. League sources tell O’Connor that New Orleans is seeking a first-round pick in exchange for Mirotic, with one source calling the club’s asking price “excessive.”
Of course, the Pelicans gave up a first-rounder for Mirotic a year ago, but at that time they got a year and a half of team control rather than just a a half-season, and also shed Omer Asik‘s unwanted contract in the deal.
Here are more trade rumors from around the NBA:
- Although the Raptors have been linked to big names like Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, sources tell Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca that a move around the periphery of the roster is far more likely than a major deal. Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca confirms that a move involving Kyle Lowry is “highly unlikely,” but says the Raptors have been aggressive on the trade market and would move anyone on their roster if they feel like it makes them a better team. On the other hand, Toronto has no intention of moving Pascal Siakam unless the club gets a superstar-level return, Lewenberg notes.
- Before Thursday’s trade deadline, the Celtics may try to attach cash to Jabari Bird in a trade to lower their projected tax bill, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. However, Bird’s legal issues complicate matters. Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) has heard that Boston wants the NBA to expedite a decision on Bird, but the league is in no rush to set a precedent under the CBA’s domestic violence policy.
- While Nuggets guard Gary Harris has been cited as a potential trade candidate, Matt Moore of ActionNetwork.com hears from a source that Denver hasn’t engaged in any “substantive” trade talks involving Harris and doesn’t currently plan to (Twitter link). While it’s possible that stance could change, Moore thinks the Nuggets would only consider moving Harris in a deal that lands the club a clear upgrade.
A year ago, when Forbes released its annual NBA franchise valuations, the Knicks were reeling from the news that Kristaps Porzingis has suffered a torn ACL, but still earned the top spot on Forbes’ list of the league’s most valuable teams.
This time around, Knicks fans are reeling from the trade that sent Porzingis to Dallas. Once again though, the franchise is still considered the most valuable of any of the NBA’s 30 clubs, according to a report from Kurt Badenhausen and Mike Ozanian of Forbes.
For the first time, all 30 NBA teams have a perceived worth of $1.2 billion or more, per Forbes’ annual report. While all 30 teams’ valuations cracked the $1 billion threshold for the first time last year, 10 franchises were below $1.2 billion.
The league-wide average of $1.9 billion per team in 2019 is also a new record, with franchise valuations up 13% in total over last year’s figures. NBA franchise values have once again tripled over the last five years, according to Badenhausen and Ozanian.
Here’s the full list of NBA franchise valuations, per Forbes:
- New York Knicks: $4 billion
- Los Angeles Lakers: $3.7 billion
- Golden State Warriors: $3.5 billion
- Chicago Bulls: $2.9 billion
- Boston Celtics: $2.8 billion
- Brooklyn Nets: $2.35 billion
- Houston Rockets: $2.3 billion
- Dallas Mavericks: $2.25 billion
- Los Angeles Clippers: $2.2 billion
- Miami Heat: $1.75 billion
- Toronto Raptors: $1.675 billion
- Philadelphia 76ers: $1.65 billion
- San Antonio Spurs: $1.625 billion
- Portland Trail Blazers: $1.6 billion
- Sacramento Kings: $1.575 billion
- Washington Wizards: $1.55 billion
- Phoenix Suns: $1.5 billion
- Oklahoma City Thunder: $1.475 billion
- Utah Jazz: $1.425 billion
- Indiana Pacers: $1.4 billion
- Denver Nuggets: $1.375 billion
- Milwaukee Bucks: $1.35 billion
- Orlando Magic: $1.325 billion
- Atlanta Hawks: $1.3 billion
- Cleveland Cavaliers: $1.275 billion
- Detroit Pistons: $1.27 billion
- Minnesota Timberwolves: $1.26 billion
- Charlotte Hornets: $1.25 billion
- New Orleans Pelicans: $1.22 billion
- Memphis Grizzlies: $1.2 billion
The Sixers are this year’s big riser, moving from 21st on the 2018 list to 12th in 2019. Conversely, the Cavaliers fell the most. After losing LeBron James, Cleveland was the only franchise to see its valuation dip from year to year, as it decreased from $1.325 billion (15th) in 2018 to $1.275 billion (25th) in 2019.