Not What Expected Was It?: The day before the NBA Trade Deadline is always a little anti-climactic. There is usually talk of two or three big names that would require complex deals and those get kicked around all day only to putter out and die by day’s end. That’s the normal script of the trade deadline. What transpired on Wednesday is typical of deadline’s past. So here are the two things that got completed yesterday.
Lakers Trade Steve Blake To Warriors: Roughly 70 minutes before tip-off of last night’s game Laker guard Steve Blake was pulled aside and told he was dealt to the Golden State Warriors in a package deal that will return guards MarShon Brooks and Kent Bazemore. The move makes a lot of sense for both franchises. The Warriors get a tough and gritty veteran point guard in Blake to help solidifying a shaky second unit in Golden State, while the Lakers get to take a 28 game look at Brooks and Bazemore, who they will hold rights to this summer. Should either show the promise that some of the other Lakers “finds” have shown this season the Lakers can re-sign them this summer after spending their cap money in free agency or in trade. Brooks will be an unrestricted free agent, so there is a chance he walks and Bazemore has a qualifying offer worth $1.115 million that can restrict his free agency. The Lakers traded a veteran for two promising young players that might fit in nicely to what the Lakers have stumbled upon this year as they construct the next evolution of Lakers basketball. The deal did not get the Lakers under the $71.748 million luxury tax line; they will still need to clear some $5.341 million to achieve that. The Lakers are believed to be trying to offload big men Jordan Hill ($3.5 million) and Chris Kaman ($3.183 million). If they are able to achieve that, the Lakers would avoid another luxury tax year and actually receive luxury tax payments for the first time in franchise history.
Kings Trade Marcus Thornton To The Nets: The Kings had been trying to move Marcus Thornton for most of the year and triggered a deal yesterday that returned veterans Jason Terry and Reggie Evans to the Kings. The logic behind the move was two part: The first being the moving of Thornton’s contract, which had $8.05 million owed this year and an additional $8.57 million owed next year. This deal breaks that money up into two veteran players and allowed the Kings to create two more manageable ending deals for next summer. The second part is it added some veteran leadership to the locker room, which is something the Kings felt they desperately needed. For the Nets they added another volume scorer in Thornton to add more punch from the bench. Terry was having his worst year as a pro in Brooklyn averaging just 4.5 points per game on a dreadful 36.2 percent field goal percentage and Player Efficiency Rating of 7.60, by far the worst of his career. The addition of Evans gives the Kings some inside toughness to pair with DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings continue to work angles in addition to this move which includes shopping forward Jason Thompson and guard Jimmer Fredette.
»In Related: NBA Draft Picks Owed
Here are some of the things still getting serious play today:
Lakers Moving Jordan Hill: The Lakers continue to talk about deals involving big man Jordan Hill and his $3.5 million ending contract. It looked as though the Cleveland Cavaliers were the front runners to obtain Hill as of last night, although the word is that Brooklyn, Charlotte, New Orleans, and Dallas are all still very much in the hunt. By acquiring Spencer Hawes, the Cavaliers are now seemingly out of the race for Hill. The Lakers are not looking to return a roster player in the transaction, which means they are really only interested in moves that allow them to remove Hill’s contract from their books. That’s going to be complicated for teams that do not have a traded players exception or an disabled player exception to absorb the deal unless a third team is involved. The Lakers are also talking with teams about veteran big man Chris Kaman. Much like Hill the Lakers are trying to offload Kaman’s contract, which like Hill would require a team with room to take the contract without returning salary to the Lakers. Talks are expected to continue on both front today. If the Lakers can move both players they will get themselves under the luxury tax line.
Knicks Moving Beno Udrih: The New York Knicks were dreaming big as trade talks got underway this week, however as the 3:00pm EST deadline gets ever so closer, it’s starting to look like the Knicks may not have anything more than a deal to move disgruntled guard Beno Udrih. The word yesterday was that Udrih and the Wizards seemed likely, although there are a few additional teams said to be at the table including the Spurs and possibly the Nuggets. The Knicks seem like they will do a deal to rid themselves of Udrih, it just remains unclear if the deal will be with the Wizards or another team. Knicks swingman Iman Shumpert went down to a sprained MCL last night, so there may be some urgency on the Knicks part to get a serviceable roster player in return.
Bucks Moving Gary Neal: There has been a lot of talk about the Bucks having multiple suitors for disgruntled guard Gary Neal, however with Golden State addressing their point guard needs with the Lakers last night, acquiring Steve Blake in a deal, it seems that Milwaukee may have lost one of its favored dance partners. The Bucks are fielding calls on a number of fronts and are said to have Phoenix, Charlotte, Oklahoma City and Sacramento in the mix. So Neal still seems like a player on the move. The Bucks are reportedly open for business on a number of players, so it’s expected that they will make a move or two before the clock strikes 3:00pm EST.
»In Related: The History of NBA Trades
Kings Moving Jason Thompson: The Sacramento Kings are trying to move forward Jason Thompson, however there does not seem to be a huge market for him. There was talk that the Cleveland Cavaliers were at the table with a deal built around Cavs guard Jarrett Jack, but only if the Cavs could offload Thompson to a third team. Thompson is a tough sell mainly because he has five percent trade kicker in his deal and has two more fully guaranteed more seasons worth roughly $12.46 million and a third season worth $6.85 million of which $2.65 million is fully guaranteed. Three more years and $15.11 million guaranteed is a hard sell for some teams, especially for a player averaging 7.6 points per game. Talks are expected to continue today, although this deal could very easily fall apart.
Grizzlies Sniffing For A Small Forward: The Grizzlies have been linked to a number of players, however sources close to the process label their activity as far lower than being reported. The Grizzlies did have some very cursory talks with Golden State early in the process. The Warriors were looking at Grizz big man Kostas Koufos, when the Grizz asked for Harrison Barnes in a deal the talks died on the table. The Grizz have been linked to the Minnesota Timberwolves, although those talks were labeled as “old news” and that nothing seemed likely on that front. The Grizz have had some recent talks with the Washington Wizards and would love to extract Martell Webster from the Wiz, but it’s unclear if the Wizards will move on that front. The Grizz are open for business and have a number of interesting chips to move, the question remains can they get something done before the deadline?
»In Related: Every NBA Teams’ Salary Cap Situation – At A Glance.
No Market For Andre Miller: As much as Denver and Miller would love to see a deal today, sources continue to paint a bleak outlook for Denver and Miller getting a divorce today. The general consensus is that Denver won’t bring Miller back to the roster and at some point are going to have to waive him. Most teams didn’t value Miller much to begin with and now that the Nuggets almost have to move him the ability for Denver to extract any return for him seems to have dried up. That’s hasn’t stopped Nuggets GM Tim Connelly from trying to make a move, it’s simply that other teams do not see a reason to give up assets for a player that might get cut after the deadline. The Nuggets have more than Miller on the market. They are reportedly shopping Jordan Hamilton and have been fielding calls on forward Kenneth Faried. It seems unlikely that Denver is going to do anything with Faried, however Denver is still very much in play.
On Again Off Again Magic: For most of the season in this space we’ve talked about how reluctant the Orlando Magic were in making a trade unless it was a landslide in their favor or it allowed them to clear up their roster for the offseason. For weeks the Magic stance has been that they were not going to do anything at the deadline and that very well could be the case. Sources close to the Magic process said Saturday that they did not expect anything to happen at the deadline; however a number of sources from other teams labeled the Magic as being active again.
The Magic played last year’s trade deadline in a similar fashion, for weeks they denied interest in trading guard J.J. Redick only to pull the trigger on an eleventh hour trade with Milwaukee.
The prevailing thought is that Orlando is going to hold the line, although it seems that Orlando may have done one last pass through the league before the deadline to try and drum up interest in some of the pieces they do not want or to see if the return price on guard Arron Afflalo has gotten to the point of pulling the trigger.
If there is a dark horse for a deal today it might be Orlando, or they could do exactly what they said they’d do and that’s sit this one out.
A couple of names to watch on the Magic front are veteran guard Jameer Nelson ($8.6 million), Glen “Big Baby” Davis ($6.4 million), big man Andrew Nicholson ($1.48 million) and guard Arron Afflalo ($7.5 million).
The Magic’s stance has been for weeks that their assets might be more valuable around the draft and free agency, so there is a really good chance that unless someone makes the right kind of offer that Orlando sits this one out.
If you are looking for the very latest on the 2014 NBA Trade Deadline Diary, make sure to check out the 2014 NBA Trade Deadline Diary. IT offers up to the minutes updates on all the news, rumors and transactions that get done today including insight on what’s currently being considered around the league. Check in early, check in often; all the news in one easy to consume place.
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A Breakout Season for Joe Harris
Brooklyn Nets swingman Joe Harris talks to Basketball Insiders about his second chance with the Nets.
The NBA is all about second chances. Sometimes players need a change of scenery, or a coach who believes in them, or just something different to reach their full potential. They may be cast aside by several teams, but eventually, they often find that right situation that allows them to flourish.
Such was the case for Joe Harris. Originally drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 33rd overall pick in the 2014 draft, Harris rarely saw the court during his time in Cleveland. He averaged about 6.4 minutes per game over the course of about one and a half seasons with the Cavaliers.
During the 2015-16 season, his second in Cleveland, he underwent season-ending foot surgery. Almost immediately after, the Cavaliers traded him to the Orlando Magic in an attempt to cut payroll due to luxury tax penalties. He would never suit up for the Magic as they cut him as soon as they traded for him.
After using the rest of that season to recover from surgery, he would sign with the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2016. He had a very strong first season in Brooklyn, but this season he’s truly broken out.
“I think a lot of it has to do with just the right situation in terms of circumstances. It’s a young team where you don’t really have anybody on the team that’s going out and getting 20 a night,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “It’s a collective effort most nights and it can be any given person depending on the situation. It’s one of those things where we’re real unselfish with the ball. A lot of guys get a lot of good looks, so your production is bound to go up just because of the system now that we’re playing.”
Known primarily as a sharpshooter in college at the University of Virginia as well as his first stop in Cleveland, Harris has started developing more of an all-around game. He’s improved his ability to put the ball on the floor and make plays as well as crashing the glass and playing strong defense.
In a relatively forgettable season record-wise for the Nets, Harris has been one of their bright spots. He’s putting up 10.1 points per game on 47.3 percent shooting from the field while playing 25.4 minutes per game. He’s up to 40.3 percent from the three-point line and he’s pulling down 3.3 rebounds. All of those numbers are career-highs.
“My role, I think, is very similar to the way I would be anywhere that I was playing. I’m a shooter, I help space the floor for guys to facilitate,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “I’m opportunistic offensively with drives and such. I’m out there to try and space the floor, knock down shots, and then play tough defensively and make sure I’m doing my part in getting defensive rebounds and that sort of stuff.”
Although Harris didn’t play much in Cleveland, he did show glimpses and flashes of the player he has blossomed into in Brooklyn. He saw action in 51 games his rookie year while knocking down 36.9 percent of his three-point attempts.
He also saw action in six playoff games during the Cavaliers’ run to the 2015 Finals. But more importantly, it was the off the court things that Harris kept with him after leaving Cleveland. The valuable guidance passed down to him from the Cavaliers veteran guys. It’s all helped mold him into the indispensable contributor he’s become for the Nets.
“Even though I wasn’t necessarily playing as much, the experience was invaluable just in terms of learning how to be a professional,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “The approach, the preparation, that sort of stuff. That’s why I learned a lot while I was there. All those good players that have had great, great, and long careers and just being able to kind of individually pick their brains and learn from them.”
When Harris came to Brooklyn two years ago, he initially signed a two-year deal with a team option after the first year. When he turned in a promising 2016-17 season, it was a no-brainer for the Nets to pick up his option. Set to make about $1.5 million this season, Harris’ contract is a steal.
However, he’s headed for unrestricted free agency this upcoming summer. Although he dealt with being a free agent before when he first signed with the Nets, it’s a different situation now. He’s likely going to be one of the most coveted wings on the market. While there’s still a bit more of the regular season left, and free agency still several months away, it’s something Harris has already thought about. If all goes well, Brooklyn is a place he can see himself staying long-term.
“Yeah, it’s one of those things that I’ll worry about that sort of decision when the time comes. But I have really enjoyed my time in Brooklyn,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “It’s a great organization with a lot of good people, and they try and do stuff the right way. I enjoy being a part of that and trying to kind of rebuild and set a good foundation for where the future of the Brooklyn Nets is.”
NBA Daily: 2018 NBA Mock Draft – 3/20/18
With most of the major NBA draft prospects eliminated from March Madness, things in the mock draft world are starting to get interesting.
A Lot of Mock Movement
With the race to the bottom in full swing in the NBA and the field of 64 in college basketball whittled down to a very sweet sixteen, there has been considerable talk in NBA circles about the impending 2018 NBA Draft class. There seems to be a more consistent view of the top 15 to 20 prospects, but there still seems to be a lack of a firm pecking order. Arizona’s Deandre Ayton seems like to the prohibitive favorite to go number one overall, but its far from a lock.
It’s important to note that these weekly Mock Draft will start to take on more of a “team driven” shape as we get closer to the mid-May NBA Combine in Chicago and more importantly once the draft order gets set. Until then, we’ll continue to drop our views of the draft class each Tuesday, until we reach May when we’ll drop the weekly Consensus Mock drafts, giving you four different views of the draft all the way to the final decisions in late June.
Here is this week’s Mock Draft:
Here are some of the pick swaps and how they landed where they are currently projected:
The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer. The Brooklyn Nets traded several unprotected picks to Boston as part of the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trades in 2015.
The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers’ 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015. The 76ers traded that pick to the Boston Celtics as part of the draft pick trade that became Markelle Fultz before the draft; it has 2 through 5 protections and based on the standings today would convey to Philadelphia.
The LA Clippers are owed the Detroit Pistons first-round pick in 2018 as a result of the Blake Griffin trade. The pick is top four protected and based on the current standings would convey.
The Phoenix Suns are owed the Milwaukee Bucks’ first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick only conveys if the Bucks pick lands between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the standings today would convey.
The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the current standings.
The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first-round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.
The Chicago Bulls are owed the New Orleans Pelicans first-round pick as a result of the Nikola Mirotic trade. The pick is top-five protected and based on the current standings would convey.
The LA Lakers are owed the Cleveland Cavaliers first-round pick as a result of Jordan Clarkson/Larry Nance Jr. trade. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Jazz/Wolves Ricky Rubio trade this past summer. The Jazz acquired the pick as part of the Thunder’s deal to obtain Enes Kanter in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.
The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors’ first-round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.
The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets’ first-round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.
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NBA Daily: Jonathan Isaac Proving to be Key Part of Orlando’s Future
Basketball Insiders spoke with Jonathan Isaac about his rookie season, injuries, areas to improve on, his faith and more.
On January 13, the Orlando Magic were eliminated from playoff contention. This date served as a formality as the team has known for quite some time that any postseason hopes had long since sailed. The Magic started the year off on a winning note and held an 8-4 record in early November. However, the team lost their next nine games and never really recovered.
Many factors play a role in a young but talented team like the Magic having another season end like this. Injuries to franchise cornerstone Aaron Gordon as well as forward Evan Fournier and forward Jonathan Isaac magnified the team’s issues.
Isaac, a rookie selected sixth overall in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, started the season off reasonably well. On November 10, in 21 minutes of action, he registered an 11-point, six-rebound, one-assist, one-steal, two-block all-around effort against the Phoenix Suns to help the Magic get to that 8-4 record. Isaac then suffered an ankle injury midway through his next game and wouldn’t play again until December 17, by which time the team was already 11-20 with the season quickly going sideways. From November until March, Isaac would only play in three games until finally returning to consistent action in the month of March with the season all but decided.
Basketball Insiders spoke to Isaac recently to discuss how he has pushed through this season, staying healthy, his impressive skill set and more.
“I’ve had a lot of time off from being injured so, I think my body is holding up fine along with how much I’ve played. I haven’t played a full season,” Isaac told Basketball Insiders “I feel good. I feel good.”
Isaac talked about what part of his game he feels strongly about and has improved on.
“I think defensively,” Isaac said. “I didn’t expect myself to make strides defensively like I have. I’ve been able to just be able to just do different things and help this team defensively and I didn’t expect that coming in so, that would be the one thing.”
Magic Head Coach Frank Vogel was effusive in his praise of Isaac’s defense and also focused on the rookie’s great defensive potential.
“His defense is out of this world. I mean it’s really something else,” Vogel said. “Just watch him play and everybody’s getting a taste of it right now. They haven’t seen him a whole lot but he’s an elite defender right now at 20-years old and the sky’s the limit for what he can be on that end of the floor.
While Isaac hasn’t logged a huge number of minutes on the floor this season, he has impressed in his limited action. As Coach Vogel stated, anyone who has taken the time to watch Isaac play this season has noticed his ability to guard other big men and his overall defensive impact.
“I think I’ve been able to do a good job on most of the people that I’ve had to guard,” Isaac said.
Missing Isaac’s defense impact and overall contributions partially explains why the Magic cooled off after their hot start. However, with the playoffs no longer an option, younger players like Isaac now have the opportunity to play with less attention and pressure. While it can be argued that the Magic aren’t really playing for anything, the truth is these late-season games can be an opportunity to develop these younger players and determine what to work on during the offseason.
There is more to Isaac than just basketball, however. Isaac discussed other parts of his life that are important to him, including religion and his faith.
“[M]y faith in Jesus is something that I put a lot of emphasis on,” Isaac told Basketball Insiders. “It’s a part of me.”
Isaac did not hesitate to credit his faith when asked if it helped him push through his injuries.
“I would say definitely,” Isaac said. “Especially with getting injured so early in the season and being out for 40 games. That’s a lot on somebody’s mental capacity and then just staying positive, staying joyful in times where joy doesn’t seem like it’s the right emotion to have. And I definitely [attribute] that to my faith.”
Looking forward, both Vogel and Isaac discussed the future and what the young big man can improve on.
“Offensively, he’s grown in confidence, he’s gained so he’s going to give us a big lift and our future’s bright with him,” Vogel stated.
Isaac gave a hint of his offseason training plans when asked what he looks forward to working on.
“I would say consistency with my jump shot. Really working on my three-ball and I would say ball-handling,” Isaac stated.
When asked if there was anything more he wanted to add, Isaac simply smiled and said, “Oh no, I think I got to get to church right now,” as the team prepared to play later that evening.