Spurs Rumors

Draft Notes: Achiuwa, Jones, Hampton, Terry

Potential top-10 selection Precious Achiuwa has interviewed with a number of lottery teams, Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype tweets. Achiuwa, a power forward who averaged 15.8 PPG and 10.8 MPG as a Memphis freshman last season, has talked to the Kings, Wizards, Knicks, Nets, Cavaliers, Suns, Spurs, Pistons and Thunder, among others. He’s currently listed at No. 10 overall on ESPN’s list of this year’s top 100 prospects.

We have more on the draft:

  • Duke point guard Tre Jones has spoken with the Bucks, Suns, Thunder and Timberwolves, among others, according to Kennedy (Twitter link). Jones had an interview lined up with the Bulls, but it was postponed due to their coaching change. Jones anticipates he’ll be a mid- to late-first round pick. He’s currently listed at No. 34 overall by ESPN.
  • Combo guard RJ Hampton, who played last season in Australia’s NBL, has talked to the Wizards, Kings, Thunder, Pistons, Suns, Trail Blazers, Knicks and Bulls, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets. He posted modest stats in 15 NBL games before suffering a hip flexor injury and returning the U.S. Hampton is currently ranked No. 13 by ESPN and Hughes speculates he could be a late lottery steal like Michael Porter Jr., who sat out for a year after getting drafted by the Nuggets.
  • Stanford point guard Tyrell Terry has interviewed with the Suns, Thunder, 76ers, Raptors, Knicks, Nets, WarriorsTimberwolves and Bulls, Kennedy tweets. He’s pegged at No. 42 in ESPN’s rankings. He averaged 14.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG and 3.2 APG as a freshman.

Draft Rumors: Hayes, J. Smith, Ball, Edwards, Krejci

With the NBA’s virtual combine underway, a handful of this year’s top draft-eligible prospects are speaking with reporters today on conference calls and are revealing some information about their pre-draft meetings.

French point guard Killian Hayes, for instance, confirmed that he has interviewed with the Spurs, Wizards, Knicks, Bulls, and Warriors, adding that his agent has told him to expect to come off the board between No. 2 and No. 10 on draft night (Twitter link via Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic).

Maryland big man Jalen Smith told reporters, including Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter links), that he has met with the Wizards, Spurs, Raptors, Nets, Suns, and Bulls, among other teams. Smith ranks No. 20 on ESPN’s big board.

Potential No. 1 pick LaMelo Ball was more evasive when asked about his meetings, refusing to name any teams he has talked to except for the Knicks, as K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago tweets. That meeting occurred prior to the lottery, per Steve Popper of Newsday (Twitter link).

While it’s possible Ball has had other meetings with top teams that he declined to mention, Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link) hears that the guard’s interview with the Timberwolves is still to come. Minnesota, of course, holds the top pick in the draft.

Here’s more on the draft:

  • There’s a belief around the NBA that the Timberwolves may make an effort to trade down from No. 1, but if they keep that pick, multiple sources believe they’ll select LaMelo Ball rather than Anthony Edwards, says Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report.
  • According to Wasserman, there’s some concern among scouts and executives about Edwards’ professionalism, drive, and desire to win. While the Georgia wing still figures to come off the board early, the likelihood of him falling to No. 3 appears to have increased, Wasserman notes.
  • One scout who spoke to Bleacher Report said his team will be putting more stock this year into prospects’ basketball IQ and other intangibles, and Wasserman believes other clubs around the NBA could take a similar approach. Tyrese Haliburton and Isaac Okoro are among the players who could benefit from that trend, Wasserman adds.
  • Czech guard Vit Krejci, who is playing for Zaragoza in Spain, has suffered a left ACL injury that will require surgery and is expected to sideline him for the rest of the season, according to the team (hat tip to Sportando). Krejci had declared for the 2020 NBA draft as an early entrant, but could still withdraw his name before the league’s November deadline.

Windhorst’s Latest: Coaching Rumors

The Pacers have interviewed more than 20 candidates for their head coaching opening and are now scheduling second interviews, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

Appearing on The Jump (video link) on Friday, Windhorst said that former Kings coach Dave Joerger, Bucks assistant Darvin Ham and 76ers assistant Ime Udoka are among the candidates expected to receive second interviews with the Pacers. ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups is also in the mix.

Windhorst doled out a number of other tidbits regarding coaching vacancies:

  • The Sixers have focused in on two high-profile candidates, Mike D’Antoni and Tyronn Lue, and that could impact what the Pelicans will do. New Orleans is “very interested” in Clippers assistant Lue, who won a championship in Cleveland with current Pelicans executive David Griffin. However, the Pelicans may have to wait until Philadelphia decides what it wants to do before pursuing Lue in earnest.
  • The Thunder appear to be going into rebuild mode and that increases the chances it will hire a first-time head coach. Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool, Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin and perhaps Spurs assistant Will Hardy have emerged as contenders for the job.
  • As previously reported, the Rockets are looking seriously at Clippers assistant and former Houston player Sam Cassell and ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy.

Draft Notes: Yurtseven, Combine, Toolson, Jessup

Former Georgetown big man Omer Yurtseven has met virtually with about a third of the teams in the NBA, including the Hawks, Wizards, Spurs, Hornets, Kings, Sixers, and Rockets, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. As Yurtseven explained in a conversation with Hughes, he has made an effort to do his homework on each team interviewing him in order to make a good impression during those meetings.

“You have to know their rosters in order to see how they would fit in; what shooters are you going to be able to kick out to, or what bigs would you be playing with, what picks do they have,” Yurtseven said. “In all the interviews, I try to incorporate all the things I know about them in order to show them that I care, that I want to be on their team.”

Here’s more on the 2020 NBA draft:

  • The revamped “combine” won’t allow teams to get as much first-hand information as in a typical draft combine, but after six months of doing little but rewatching tape and making phone calls, scouts and teams are pretty interested in the process and anxious for new information, tweets Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report.
  • In a story for Bleacher Report, Wasserman looks at some of the latest draft rumors, attempting to weigh their legitimacy. Wasserman is buying talk of RJ Hampton‘s improved jumper, but doesn’t expect the Timberwolves to trade the No. 1 pick and is skeptical about some of the chatter coming out of Golden State.
  • Despite the fact that just about every NBA team would love to add a sharpshooter such as Duncan Robinson, the Michigan forward went undrafted in 2018. With that in mind, CJ Moore of The Athletic identifies four prospects who could be this year’s under-the-radar marksman like Robinson, including BYU’s Jake Toolson and Boise State’s Justinian Jessup.
  • The latest mock draft conducted by team beat writers at The Athletic featured LaMelo Ball going No. 1 to the Timberwolves, the Warriors trading the No. 2 pick to the Suns, and Anthony Edwards slipping to the Hornets at No. 3.

Hawks To Hire Landry Fields As Assistant GM

The Hawks are hiring Austin Spurs general manager Landry Fields as their new assistant general manager, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The 32-year-old Fields joined the Spurs as a scout in 2016 and was promoted to G League GM last year. He is filling a vacancy in Atlanta that has been open since Jeff Peterson, who was the Hawks’ assistant general manager under general manager Travis Schlenk, left in 2019.

Fields also spent five seasons in the NBA, playing for both the Knicks and Raptors. In 255 games, he averaged 6.8 PPG and 4.3 RPG.

Daniel Oturu Interviewing With Several Teams

  • University of Minnesota big man Daniel Oturu has interviewed – or will interview – with the Timberwolves, Spurs, Wizards, and Cavaliers, among other teams, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.

Wolves, Mavs, Spurs Among Likely Campazzo Suitors

While veteran point guard Facundo Campazzo remains with Real Madrid for the time being, the expectation is that he’ll sign an NBA contract after the 2020 free agent period begins, according to Jose Luis Martinez of Marca.com (Spanish link), who identifies Campazzo’s most likely landing spot as Minnesota.

As Martinez explains, the presence of fellow Argentine and former Real Madrid point guard Pablo Prigioni on the Timberwolves‘ coaching staff helps make Minnesota an appealing destination for Campazzo, as does the fact that the club has little point guard depth on its roster behind D’Angelo Russell.

However, the Wolves aren’t the only team with an eye on Campazzo. The Mavericks and Spurs are also potential suitors, according to Martinez, who notes that San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich is a fan of the 29-year-old. The two Southwest rivals have previously been cited as having interest in Campazzo.

A two-time EuroLeague champion and three-time Spanish League champ, Campazzo has a decorated international résumé that also includes four Argentine League championships, a EuroCup Defensive Player of the Year award, and a silver medal in the 2019 World Cup.

In 28 EuroLeague games in 2019/20, Campazzo averaged 9.9 PPG and 7.1 APG (second behind Nick Calathes‘ 9.1). His three-point percentage slipped to 31.0% but he’s typically a reliable outside shooter, knocking down 37.5% of his tries from beyond the arc over the previous two EuroLeague seasons.

While Campazzo is still under contract with Real Madrid, his deal includes an NBA out and he sounds prepared to pay the money necessary to exercise that out.

2020 NBA Offseason Preview: San Antonio Spurs

Hoops Rumors is previewing the 2020 offseason for all 30 NBA teams. We’re looking at the key questions facing each club, as well as the roster decisions they’ll have to make this fall. Today, we’re focusing on the San Antonio Spurs.


Salary Cap Outlook

Unless DeMar DeRozan unexpectedly opts out and the Spurs don’t re-sign Jakob Poeltl and/or Bryn Forbes, the odds of the team creating any cap room are slim. On the other hand, bringing back DeRozan, Poeltl, and Forbes might put San Antonio into luxury-tax territory unless the club cuts costs elsewhere.

I don’t expect Spurs ownership to pay the tax for the current roster, so perhaps the team will let Poeltl or Forbes walk or trade one of its many veterans on expiring contracts. Depending on certain roster decisions, San Antonio could have the non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($9.26MM) and bi-annual exception ($3.62MM) available, but may ultimately be limited to just the taxpayer MLE ($5.72MM).

Our full salary cap preview for the Spurs can be found right here.


Roster Decisions To Watch

Options:

  • DeMar DeRozan, player option: $27,739,975 (Oct. 13 deadline)

Non-Guaranteed Contracts:

Two-Way Contracts:

Free Agents:


2020 Draft Assets

First Round:

  • No. 11 overall pick

Second Round:

  • No. 41 overall pick

The Spurs don’t make a habit of trading away draft picks – or stockpiling extra ones – so it comes as no surprise that their only two selections in the 2020 draft are their own.


Three Key Offseason Questions

1. Will the Spurs run it back again with DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge?

DeRozan and Aldridge were as efficient as ever on offense in 2019/20. DeRozan’s .531 FG% was easily a career high, while Aldridge enjoyed the best three-point shooting season of his career (.389 3PT% with 1.2 makes per game).

However, DeRozan is now 31 years old and Aldridge is 35. Both players are entering potential contract years, with DeRozan considered likely to exercise his $27.7MM player option for 2020/21. And San Antonio is coming off a 32-39 season — that’s the team’s worst record and the first time it has missed the playoffs since 1997.

On top of all that, the Spurs reportedly shopped Aldridge at this year’s trade deadline, and there were rumblings shortly thereafter that DeRozan wasn’t thrilled with his situation in San Antonio. In other words, all signs point to the team considering the idea of seeing what it can get for its two veterans on the trade market this offseason and handing the reins to its young up-and-comers.

Still, the Spurs have never really shown a taste for making biggest splashes on the trade market unless their hand is forced, as it was in the case of Kawhi Leonard. And the aforementioned report which said the club shopped Aldridge at the deadline also noted that rival teams believed San Antonio’s asking price was far too high. It may be difficult for the Spurs to extract a ton of value for DeRozan at $27.7MM or Aldridge at $24MM.

Gregg Popovich‘s status is also an X-factor here. He turns 72 years old in January and presumably doesn’t plan to coach the Spurs for a whole lot longer. Would a pivot to the team’s youth be what San Antonio’s longtime head coach and president of basketball operations has in mind for his final year(s)?

2. Is this Gregg Popovich’s last year with the Spurs?

While we’re on the subject, it’s worth considering what exactly Popovich’s future holds, since it could have an impact on how the Spurs approach the next year or two.

In recent years, there had been a general perception – unconfirmed by Popovich – that the Spurs’ head coach would stick around through 2020, then coach Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics as a possible last hurrah.

The coronavirus pandemic has complicated matters. Not only have those Olympics been postponed until 2021, but there’s uncertainty about whether NBA players and coaches will even be able to fully participate, since a delayed ’20/21 season could very well overlap with the rescheduled Olympics.

Assuming the NBA can figure out a plan to either finish its season before the Olympics or include a break in its schedule to accommodate them, it seems likely that Popovich will still coach Team USA as long as he can safely do so. And it sounds as if the Spurs expect Popovich back on their sidelines for the 2020/21 season.

While it may look a little different than what we initially envisioned, perhaps the original theory – that Popovich will coach the Spurs up until the Olympics and then call it a career after the Tokyo games – is still in play.

Of course, even if the upcoming season is Popovich’s last, it’s possible it won’t have a major impact on the franchise’s roster decisions. It probably wouldn’t fit Popovich’s style to seek out any sort of win-now moves for his final go-round — I could just as easily see him embracing a partial rebuild before handing things off to a successor such as Becky Hammon, Will Hardy, or Tim Duncan.

Either way, Popovich has had such a hand in shaping the Spurs’ culture over the last 25 years that it will be fascinating to see how the team transitions out of his tenure and looks to carry over that culture to a new era.

3. Will Jakob Poeltl and Bryn Forbes be back?

Poeltl, who was one of the players the Spurs acquired in the Leonard blockbuster, will be a restricted free agent this offseason and is entering his age-25 season. Forbes, who just turned 27, has been a full-time starter for San Antonio in each of the last two seasons.

As I noted above, re-signing both players to market-value deals would potentially put the Spurs in tax territory if no cost-cutting roster moves follow. Still, I’d be a little surprised if the team lets either player get away.

Poeltl’s numbers per 36 minutes (11.5 rebounds, 2.9 blocks) show his value as a rebounder and rim protector, and it feels as if he has more room to grow. The Spurs’ front office will want to recoup as much value as it can from the trade that helped send the Raptors to a championship. With the ability to match any offer sheet for Poeltl, San Antonio should retain him.

As for Forbes, he has been one of the Spurs’ most reliable three-point shooters over the last two seasons, knocking down 40.8% of his attempts during that stretch as the club ranked 30th and 28th in three-point tries.

San Antonio’s backcourt is loaded with young players, but Forbes is capable of sliding up to the three and playing alongside a pair of guards. Since he’ll be unrestricted, there’s no guarantee he won’t look for a new deal elsewhere, but the Spurs have a history of overpaying a little to retain their own guys if they really want them back.

Assuming both Poeltl and Forbes are re-signed, the most logical way for the Spurs to shed some money would be to move one of their veterans on expiring contracts. Besides DeRozan and Aldridge, Rudy Gay ($14.5MM) and Patty Mills ($13.3MM) would also fit that bill.

Information from Basketball Insiders and ESPN was used in the creation of this post. Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Five 2020/21 Player Option Decisions To Watch

Based on the limited spending ability that many teams around the NBA will have in free agency this offseason, the general belief is that most veterans who have player options for the 2020/21 season will pick up those options, taking the guaranteed money rather than rolling the dice on the open market.

In many cases, that decision is a no-brainer — Hornets forward Nicolas Batum isn’t about to turn down his $27MM+ option to try his luck in free agency. However, there are several players who will have trickier decisions. In those cases, the player’s option salary might be in the neighborhood of his projected value in free agency, incentivizing him to see if he can do better in free agency.

Alternately, a player might decide that declining an option and taking a small pay cut for the 2020/21 season is worth it in order to secure a longer-term deal. Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas took this path a year ago, passing on a $17.6MM option in favor of a three-year contract worth $15MM per year.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at five players whose option decisions won’t necessarily be simple ones. Let’s dive in…

  1. Evan Fournier, Magic ($17,150,000): If not for the coronavirus pandemic, Fournier’s free agency would have been well-timed, as he’s coming off perhaps his best season as a pro (18.5 PPG, 3.2 APG, .467/.399/.818 shooting). Even if he can’t secure a raise, Fournier could be a good candidate for a Valanciunas-esque multiyear deal that greatly increases his future guarantee while locking him into an annual salary below $17.15MM. But there aren’t many teams that have the cap room to accommodate such a deal, and I’m not convinced Orlando wants to keep making long-term commitments to veterans from its middle-of-the-pack squad after signing Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross to four-year deals.
  2. Jerami Grant, Nuggets ($9,346,153): After a slow start in Denver, Grant emerged as a key contributor for the Nuggets, averaging 12.0 PPG with a .389 3PT% and strong, versatile defense. If he opts out, there should be teams willing to pay him the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception, which will work out to about $40MM over four years. The question will be whether Grant, who is still just 26 years old, wants to wait until 2021 to pursue a long-term contract, in the hopes that more teams will have money to throw around at that point. If the Nuggets or a team with cap room shows a willingness to give him a multiyear deal exceeding the MLE this year, that might be his best bet.
  3. Avery Bradley, Lakers ($5,005,350): With the Lakers seemingly ticketed for a spot in the Western Conference Finals, this would normally be an opportunity for Bradley to show off his value in advance of a bigger offseason payday. Instead, having opted out of the restart, he hasn’t appeared in a game since March. Bradley, who is a strong perimeter defender and isn’t a liability on offense, could probably secure a modest raise in free agency, but opting in would be the safe play — especially given his long layoff.
  4. JaMychal Green, Clippers ($5,005,350): Given that he plays alongside a pair of All-Stars and two Sixth Man of the Year winners, it’s easy to overlook Green, but the veteran forward is a regular role player for one of this year’s top title favorites, averaging 16.4 MPG in 10 playoff games. While he doesn’t get many looks on offense, he’s a reliable three-point shooter and a good team defender. Still, due to the leaguewide cap situation, he’s not a lock to get a raise on the open market. He also seems to enjoy playing for the Clippers, so he may be leaning toward picking up his option.
  5. Austin Rivers, Rockets ($2,436,046): Rivers is no star, but any regular rotation player who is earning the minimum is a bargain. Even if he ultimately ends up sticking with Houston or signing a minimum-salary deal with another team, it probably makes sense for Rivers to turn down his option and explore the open market — declining his option and signing a new minimum deal would likely only cost him about $100K. He could also very well do better than the minimum, unless his playoff struggles (.315/.267/.857 shooting) tank his value.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacers Identify 14 Head Coaching Candidates

The Pacers are set to begin a wide-ranging search for a head coach that will include more than a dozen candidates, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. As Wojnarowski details, Indiana is looking to interview the following candidates as the team seeks a replacement for Nate McMillan:

  • Former Kings and Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger
  • Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool
  • Nets associate head coach Jacque Vaughn
  • Trail Blazers associate head coach Nate Tibbetts
  • Spurs assistants Becky Hammon and Will Hardy
  • Heat assistants Dan Craig and Chris Quinn
  • Mavericks assistants Jamahl Mosley and Stephen Silas
  • Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee
  • Sixers assistant Ime Udoka
  • Magic assistant Pat Delany

It remains to be seen whether the Pacers will be granted permission to speak with all of their potential targets. If they do, the team’s first round of virtual meetings would feature at least 14 interviews.

Many of the Pacers’ coaching candidates identified by Wojnarowski have been linked to other vacancies around the league. Vanterpool, Craig, Mosley, Silas, Ham, and Udoka, for example, are all believed to be interviewing for the Bulls’ job. Udoka and Ham have also been mentioned as potential 76ers candidates, as has Joerger. Vaughn was seriously considered for the Nets job before the team hired Steve Nash, while Hardy and Delany interviewed with the Knicks before they hired Tom Thibodeau.

[RELATED: 2020 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker]

Others on Indiana’s list, such as Tibbetts and Hammon, have interviewed in past years for various NBA head coaching openings. Only a couple candidates – Quinn and Lee – haven’t received head coaching consideration in the past, as far as I can tell. Meanwhile, Joerger and Vaughn are the only names on the list with previous head coaching experience.

Mike D’Antoni has also been mentioned as a potential target for the Pacers, but he remains active in the postseason with the Rockets and there’s no guarantee he’ll leave Houston when his contract expires.

Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard has spoken about wanting to hire a head coach who takes a “modern approach” to the game and has the ability to connect with younger players. McMillan’s old-school approach to offense was believed to be one reason why Indiana made a change.