- Derrick White continues to work on regaining his confidence and comfort after coming back from injury earlier this season. Jabari Young of The Athletic details the support that White has received from the Spurs‘ coaching staff and some of his teammates as he looks to make his mark in the Spurs’ depleted backcourt.
Here are Sunday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA:
Here are Saturday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA:
- The Grizzlies have recalled rookie guard Jevon Carter from their Memphis Hustle affiliate, the team announced on Twitter. Carter was sent to the G League on Thursday.
- The Hornets have assigned forward Dwayne Bacon to the Greensboro Swarm, according to the team website. This is the second trip to the G League for Bacon, who has played one game for the Swarm and 15 for Charlotte.
- The Spurs sent forward Chimezie Metu to the Austin Toros so he could play in tonight’s game, tweets JeffGSpursZone.
Over the course of the 2018/19 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.
The NBA’s Southwest division continues to defy expectations as the 2018/19 season nears its one-third mark. Dallas and Memphis were expected to sit at the bottom of the Southwest this year, but the Mavericks currently have a better record than their fellow Texas teams in San Antonio and Houston, while the Grizzlies are in first place in their division. The unpredictability has resulted in some unexpected trade candidates.
Here’s our latest look at a few possible trade candidates from the Southwest…
Carmelo Anthony, F
$1.51MM cap hit; unrestricted free agent in 2019
It has been three weeks since the Rockets confirmed they’d be parting ways with Anthony, but the veteran forward remains in limbo. It’s possible that Houston is putting off releasing Anthony because there’s concern he’ll be claimed off waivers by a team he doesn’t want to join — or perhaps the Rockets, who already have one open roster spot, don’t want to have to replace him on their roster, which would increase their projected tax bill.
However, it also seems likely that the Rockets are waiting until December 15 before making any final decisions on Anthony. That’s the date he’ll become eligible to be traded.
It’s not clear whether there are teams in there with immediate interest in acquiring Anthony, but if there are, a trade should be simple enough — because he’s on a minimum-salary contract, the 34-year-old can be acquired using the minimum salary exception, negating the need for salary-matching, and Houston certainly won’t be asking for anything of value in return.
If there has been no resolution on Anthony by December 15, that resolution should come shortly thereafter, as the Rockets assess whether there’s a deal to be made for the 10-time All-Star.
Pau Gasol, C
San Antonio Spurs
$16.8MM cap hit; $16MM salary for 2019/20 partially guaranteed ($6.7MM)
The Spurs are only two games out of a playoff spot in the West, but their 11-14 record places them 14th in the conference. They’ve dropped 12 of their last 17 games, including three recent losses by 30 or more points. If this slump continues, there’s a real possibility that selling will make more sense than buying at the trade deadline.
In that scenario, Gasol could become a trade chip. Typically, a 38-year-old who is earning $16.8MM and recovering from a stress fracture is an albatross, but if Pau gets healthy, he should have some appeal in the right situation.
Gasol’s partial guarantee for next season makes his contract a bit more manageable, and he’s the sort of veteran who could fit into just about any situation, playing 15 minutes or so off the bench. Again though, he has to get back to 100% first before he’ll have any value, and at his age, that’s not necessarily a given.
Dennis Smith Jr., G
$3.82MM cap hit; on rookie contract; eligible for restricted free agency in 2021
There have been no reports this season suggesting that the Mavericks are mulling the possibility of trading Smith, but Luka Doncic‘s emergence has increased the pressure on Dallas’ 2017 lottery pick. While it may be too early to dub Doncic the Mavs’ next franchise player, the early returns on this year’s No. 3 selection suggest that he should be the team’s primary play-maker for years to come.
If that’s the case, the Mavericks will need to determine whether Smith makes sense alongside Doncic for the long term. If management believes the two youngsters can coexist and thrive together, there’s no reason to do anything with DSJ except look ahead to his next contract. If there are doubts about the pairing, the Mavs should start thinking about a potential deal.
After all, outside of perhaps Wesley Matthews‘ expiring contract and one or two others, the Mavericks don’t have a ton of attractive trade chips. Smith would be a big one, and if moving him allows the franchise to acquire another long-term piece that fits better alongside Doncic, it’s worth considering.
While I don’t expect Smith to go anywhere this season, we’ll be monitoring this situation going forward.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- The Spurs are certainly struggling, as they sit at 10-12 and in 14th place in the Western Conference. As Chelsea Howard points out for The Sporting News, Gregg Popovich is putting a lot of blame on himself as he expects more from his coaching performance moving forward.
- One bright spot for the Spurs has been the play of Bryn Forbes, who looks to be developing into one of the league’s best shooters, as Bryan Kalbrosky writes for HoopsHype. Forbes has received a much larger role due to the various injuries in the backcourt and is averaging 16.1 points and 3 three-pointers per 36 minutes.
Here are Saturday’s G League assignments and recalls from across the NBA:
- The Hornets sent forward Dwayne Bacon and guard Devonte’ Graham to the Greensboro Swarm, the team announced on its website. This is the first G League assignment of the season for Bacon, who has appeared in 13 games for Charlotte and is averaging 6.4 points per night. It’s the third time for Graham, who has gotten into eight NBA games.
- The Spurs assigned Chimezie Metu to their Austin affiliate, according to the team website. He has appeared in 12 games with San Antonio.
- The Pistons have recalled Luke Kennard from Auburn Hills, the team announced in an email. Kennard is recovering from an AC joint sprain in his right shoulder that has sidelined him for the past 15 games.
- The Pelicans sent rookie Kenrich Williams to the G League, tweets Will Guillory of The Athletic. New Orleans doesn’t have a direct affiliate, so Williams has been assigned to the Westchester Knicks.
- The Knicks called up center Luke Kornet from Westchester and placed him on the active list for tonight’s game, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News (Twitter link).
- The Rockets recalled guard Brandon Knight from their Rio Grande affiliate, tweets Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston.
- The Spurs are emphasizing team unity after suffering a pair of embarrassing losses this week, relays Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. After an offseason that featured the loss of longtime team leaders Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, the players are concerned about upholding the traditions in San Antonio. “It’s the big picture,” said Patty Mills, who is now the longest-tenured Spur on the roster. “It’s who we represent when we put these jerseys on.”
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 Southwest Division:
Wesley Matthews, Mavericks, 32, SG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $70MM deal in 2015
Matthews got off to a strong start, reaching the 20-point mark in six of the first 10 games. An injury set him back as a mild hamstring strain kept him out of four games. He’s shot 33% from 3-point range in the last two games since returning to action. There’s always a market for players who can make the long ball but at his age, Matthews is probably looking at a short-term deal in his next contract and might have to settle for a second-unit role.
Marquese Chriss, Rockets, 21, PF, (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $9.2MM deal in 2016
Chriss received a fresh start when the Suns traded him to a contender. So far, Chriss has failed to take advantage of the situation, even after the club decided to part ways with Carmelo Anthony. Chriss has only appeared in seven games and hasn’t played more than eight minutes in any of them. It’s hard to believe he was chosen with the No. 8 overall pick in 2016. Chriss is still younger than many college players, so he’ll get another chance somewhere else, but he’ll have to settle for a modest contract.
Shelvin Mack, Grizzlies, 28, PG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2018
The Grizzlies brought in Mack on a veteran’s minimum deal to back up Mike Conley. Mack has been a steady presence in the rotation, averaging 9.9 PPG and 3.6 APG while keeping his turnovers down (1.3 per game). He’s also shot it well from long range (41.8%). Mack isn’t flashy but he’s a competent second-unit floor leader and he might get more than one year on the open market next summer.
Nikola Mirotic, Pelicans, 27, PF (Up) — Signed to a two-year, $15MM deal in 2017
Mirotic made national headlines last season when Bulls teammate Bobby Portis slugged him during a practice dispute. Far removed from that incident, Mirotic is enjoying a career year with the Pelicans. He’s averaging 19.2 PPG and 10.5 RPG in 31.6 MPG. His 3-point percentage is down from last season but is still a solid 37%. Mirotic should receive plenty of attention on the open market as a stretch four who can also pound the glass.
Rudy Gay, Spurs, 32 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $10MM deal in 2018
Gay had an ugly outing against Minnesota on Wednesday (three points in 19 minutes) but otherwise he’s been quite efficient this season. He’s shooting 49.2% from the field and 46.7% outside the arc and has also been a factor on the boards (7.1 per game). Gay has been thrust into a starting role with the injury-riddled Spurs but he’ll probably be looked upon as a second-unit contributor when he returns to the open market. He’s showing he still has something left in the tank.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Spurs’ center Pau Gasol was sidelined with a left foot injury after playing in the team’s first nine games this season. He’s since missed the past 12 games, including tonight’s blowout loss to the Wolves.
San Antonio did not release much information on the condition at the time, but Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News is now reporting that further testing has revealed a stress fracture in the troublesome left foot after Gasol had begun making progress to return to the court.
“He was (back on the court) and then they took him off,” coach Gregg Popovich said today. “We got a second opinion that it was a stress fracture, so they put him back in the (walking) boot.”
Popovich’s above quote was elicited while being interviewed before the team’s game against Minnesota tonight, so it’s unclear whether there will be a further, perhaps more official report, from the Spurs in the near future. For now, there is no timetable for Gasol’s return
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich raised some eyebrows on Saturday when he said that Kawhi Leonard wasn’t a “leader” in San Antonio, with veterans like Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills assuming that role instead. While Popovich acknowledged that Leonard was a great player, he suggested that “leadership wasn’t his deal at the time.”
Responding to those comments on Sunday night, Leonard pushed back, telling reporters – including Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports (Twitter links) – that he leads by example with the Raptors, as he did for the Spurs.
“It’s just funny to me,” Leonard said of Popovich’s comments. “I don’t know if he’s talking about last year or not. I guess when you stop playing they forget how you lead… It doesn’t matter. I’m here with the Raptors and I’m focused on the season and not what’s going on on the other side.”
Here’s more from around the Atlantic:
- The Sixers won’t be providing an update on Markelle Fultz today, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Keith Pompey of Philly.com (Twitter links). As Woj and Pompey explain, Fultz is now scheduled to see multiple specialists this week in New York, so there likely won’t be any decisions made on his next steps until the latter part of the week.
- Within an in-depth piece on the Celtics‘ struggles, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer writes, “Most executives expect the trade winds to stay quiet, and there are few players who would realistically be available who would be upgrades for Boston.” President of basketball operations Danny Ainge has essentially said as much publicly, as we detailed earlier today.
- With Caris LeVert sidelined indefinitely, Spencer Dinwiddie and D’Angelo Russell have been developing chemistry together as the Nets‘ lead guards, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. LeVert remains perhaps the most important long-term piece in Brooklyn’s backcourt, but the knowledge that Dinwiddie and Russell can succeed together would give the team more options next summer, when both players will become free agents.