And so it continues: While there continues to be a flurry of ongoing activity among league executives to start free agency, the number of players coming off the board has paled in comparison. This is because there are still elite guys at the top of the board who are taking their time with the process.
A few second or third tier guys have been able to come to terms on their next deals but for the most part you won’t see much movement until the franchise-changing talents ultimately decide what to do.
Here’s where we stand this morning:
Carmelo Anthony: Outside of four-time MVP LeBron James, Anthony is arguably the top free agent in this year’s batch. Anthony met with the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday and the franchise pulled out all of the stops in their recruitment of the All-Star forward.
According to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, former MVP Derrick Rose went through a private workout to show Anthony he’s healthy and ready to perform at a high level next season. All-Star center Joakim Noah played a key role in the recruitment process and the club took Anthony to a dinner after the afternoon meetings at the United Center. The dinner, held at the Peninsula Hotel in downtown Chicago, reportedly included Anthony, Noah, Taj Gibson, Tom Thibodeau, Jerry Reinsdorf, Gar Forman and Scottie Pippen.
If Chicago could secure Anthony’s autograph on a new deal there’s little doubt the team would enter the season as one of the favorites to emerge out of the Eastern Conference.
But there are barriers to making a potential union work here. According to Chris Broussard of ESPN, the New York Knicks have no plans to help the Bulls secure Anthony by taking back declining forward Carlos Boozer in a sign-and-trade agreement.
If the Bulls amnesty Boozer and deal emerging forward Jimmy Butler they’d be able to offer Anthony a deal starting at around $17 million next season. However, the Knicks can offer the forward over $22 million in year one.
Anthony is scheduled to meet with the Houston Rockets on Wednesday morning and then meet officials from the Dallas Mavericks in the afternoon. Anthony will reportedly meet with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.
Pau Gasol: The veteran big man is in high demand. The Los Angeles Lakers own his Bird rights and can offer him the most lucrative package, but the team has also kept his name in trade rumors the past two years, which could play into the process.
According to an ESPN Los Angeles report, Gasol met with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak for a few hours on Tuesday. The Lakers will be meeting with Carmelo Anthony on Thursday as the franchise continues to retool.
Miami team president Pat Riley reportedly reached out to Gasol on Tuesday to express some exploratory interest, however, the HEAT’s salary cap situation won’t be fully known until Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James ultimately make their free agency decisions.
According to Yahoo! Sports, Gasol is seeking an eight figure salary per year in the $10 to $12 million range. The report also mentions the San Antonio Spurs as reaching out to Gasol’s agent Arn Tellem to express some exploratory interest.
Stan Van Gundy hits ground running in Detroit: Newly crowned president of basketball operations and head coach Stan Van Gundy has been extremely active to start his first offseason running the show in Detroit.
The Pistons entered the summer with around $14 million in cap space and quickly came to terms with Los Angeles Lakers guard Jodie Meeks and Atlanta Hawks forward Cartier Martin.
Meeks’ deal is reportedly worth $19 million over three seasons and doesn’t include any player or team options. On the other end, Martin’s deal is reportedly for one-year with a player option for season two.
The Pistons wanted outside shooting to free up space for their talented group of big men and got it with Martin and Meeks who were among the better shooters this year’s free agent crop.
Detroit is also reportedly hot on the trail of dynamic point guard Isaiah Thomas.
Shaun Livingston: The redemption story of Livingston continues to be a positive one after a horrific knee injury almost ended his career a few years back. Livingston put together a solid campaign with the Brooklyn Nets in 2014 averaging 8.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 76 contests.
On Tuesday, Livingston reportedly agreed to terms with the Golden State Warriors on a three-year deal worth $16 million. The third year of the deal is reportedly not fully guaranteed.
The Warriors entered the summer looking for a reserve point guard behind All-Star Stephen Curry in the rotation.
Luol Deng: The former All-Star is reportedly out of the country at the moment, but the Houston Rockets have reached out to his agent according to the Houston Chronicle.
Deng is also reportedly being pursued by Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles [Clippers] and Miami this summer.
The word is Deng isn’t interested in taking less than his market value so a cash strapped team like Miami would have to pursue other options to lock him up.
Chandler Parsons: As Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler pointed out in this space yesterday, the Houston Rockets are likely to match any offer received for Parsons in free agency. The Rockets are in a strong position here because Parsons’ cap hold of $2.8 million still puts the franchise in a strong position to work right up to their cap in free agency. Then the team can exceed the cap to sign Parsons to a lucrative deal.
Although the restricted label may scare away some teams from putting an offer in, Parsons has received interest from Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles [Clippers] and Minnesota to start free agency.
Josh McRoberts: Another name to keep an eye on is McRoberts who started 78 games for the emerging Charlotte Bobcats last season. McRoberts averaged 8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game in 2014, but also connected on 36 percent of his shots from three-point range.
McRoberts is reportedly drawing interest from Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas, Los Angeles [Clippers & Lakers], Miami, New York, Portland, Phoenix and San Antonio.
Kings planning to deal Jason Thompson?
The Sacramento Kings have been ambitious in their desire to reshape their roster as of late. With that comes tough decisions. During the draft last week a rumor surfaced regarding potentially acquiring talented forward Josh Smith from Detroit in exchange for Jason Thompson who is currently the longest tenured Kings player.
Thompson, for his part, is taking the trade buzz in stride
“Trade talk happens before the draft,” Thompson said according to Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. “But I’m a man, I’m true to my word and regardless of what happens I still want to keep it out here. I still have a lot of support.”
Thompson is owed more than $19 million over the next three seasons and the Kings have been sending out feelers in the market for the forward long before the current front office took shape.
But for now Thompson is preparing for the upcoming season as if he’ll still be Sacramento.
“I’m eager to see what’s going to happen in the upcoming season with the team,” Thompson said. “And I’ve said over the years and I’m sure so have other players, you can control what you can control. I think only a select few – I wouldn’t say the word safe – but you never know what’s going to happen with the team and who’s going to be wearing what jersey.”
Thompson appeared in all 82 games last season for the Kings, registering 61 starts. He averaged 7.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest on 51 percent shooting.
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.