Raptors guard Greivis Vasquez talks about fitting into his new team, why its worked in Toronto and what he thinks his team can do in the post-season.
The Guards You Can Get: There is no escaping the importance of the point guard position in the NBA, not only in terms of playmaking and leading a team, but in the modern NBA the point guard spot has become the catalyst for almost everything teams do.
As NBA teams enter the offseason, addressing or upgrading the point guard spot will come front and center, and while the 2014 NBA Draft class might inserts two or three starting-caliber guards, most teams will look to free agency to solve their point guard woes.
The 2014 NBA Free Agent class doesn’t feature a lot of All-Star type players, but there are some guys who have turned their situations around this year and might be headed towards a nice free agent payday. Here are the top six “obtainable” free agent point guards:
Kyle Lowry – Toronto Raptors – $6,210,000:
PPG- 17.5 APG- 7.6 RPG- 4.8 PER- 20.10
Lowry sits atop the available point guard crop, and while he has really brought things around this season in Toronto, his future with the club is murky at best. Lowry, who just turned 28 this month, is posting some of the best numbers of his career and has been the catalyst for the Raptors’ run to the postseason, their first postseason berth since 2008. With unrestricted free agency on the horizon, Lowry will surely get some top shelf offers. The question becomes how much will Toronto put on the table to keep him and is that even an option for Lowry?
Sources close to Lowry say he is actually really happy in Toronto. He has grown close with teammate DeMar DeRozan. He has a young guy that he has really connected with and they have rallied around him. In terms of the team situation, Lowry is pretty happy with what he has around him and what the organization has said they’ll do to improve.
So now it comes down to money and free agency. There has been talk that the Miami HEAT may make a run at Lowry and Lowry has long been linked to the LA Lakers, who may have a mountain of free agent cash to spend. Lowry has said over and over that he wants to be in a winning situation, and he has been part of building one in Toronto, the question is will a bigger brand name in the NBA or a more established veteran team pony up enough cash to lure Lowry out of Toronto?
Lowry is in the last year of his contract and will have earned some $6.2 million in salary by season’s end. In his eight NBA seasons Lowry has earned $28.7 million, so its not like he’s hit the NBA lottery and money won’t matter. The Raptors do hold Lowry’s Bird rights, so they can offer him more guaranteed dollars and years than anyone else. The question is how much is it going to take, and what’s the per year price?
»In Related: The 2014 NBA Free Agents List.
Darren Collison – Los Angeles Clippers – $1,900,000:
PPG- 10.8 APG- 3.6 RPG- 2.2 PER- 16.29
Collison has a $1.95 million player option for next season that he may not exercise, meaning he could hit free agency again and see if his value has gone up.
Collison has been the poster child for inconsistency as a pro. In New Orleans he looked every bit the part of starting point guard. However, in Indiana and Dallas he struggled. When Chris Paul went down to injury in LA earlier this year, Collison was thrust into the starting lineup and against posted gaudy numbers – 53.7 percent field goal shooting, 45 percent three pointing shooting in 31.2 minutes a game, helping lead the team to a 12-4 record in January.
It’s a hard to bet on Collision as a starter given his track record elsewhere, but if a team is grabbing a young point guard in the draft, and is looking for a steady hand to fill in around the learning curve, Collision might be an interesting option.
Collision continues to show that when he gets minutes, he can produce and when you are talking about the next tier of point guards he might be the best of the bunch.
Ramon Sessions – Milwaukee Bucks – $5,000,000
PPG- 11.7 APG- 3.8 RPG- 2.4 PER- 16.25
Sessions will turn 28 in April and will likely enter the free agent pool as the third best free agent guard of the bunch. Sessions didn’t exactly blow the doors off the opportunity he had in Charlotte, which was one of the reasons he was traded to Milwaukee at the deadline.
Since arriving in Milwaukee, Sessions has played well, but far from stellar. Its unlikely teams knock down Sessions’ door as a free agent answer as a starter, but as a quality backup guard, Sessions still looks to have a lot of value. Like Collison, a team drafting a rookie point guard could do worse than Sessions as a security blanket as a young player learns the game.
Sessions is coming off a final contract year that will pay him $5 million this season. That number might be a little high for a next contract, but given how few point guards are really available in free agency, Session may find his price tag in the neighborhood, the question is how many years need to be on the deal to obtain his services?
Jarret Jack signed a four-year, $25 million deal last summer with Cleveland after posting slightly lower stats than Sessions posted in Milwaukee, so there is a little bit of market precedent for his situation.
»In Related:NBA Team Salaries At A Glance.
D.J. Augustin – Chicago Bulls – $650,215
PPG- 12.5 APG- 4.3 RPG- 1.8 PER- 16.06
To be brutally honest, Augustin looked like he was on his way out of the NBA, then he landed in Chicago with the Bulls and has absolutely blown the doors off what people thought about him.
Augustin has posted some of the best numbers of his career and has really fallen into a nice groove with the Bulls. Unfortunately the Bulls may not have the means to keep him beyond this year, although a lot of his teammates are campaigning for him.
The Bulls currently have $63 million in salary commitments to seven players next year. So, unless the Bulls use their one-time Amnesty cut on Carlos Boozer, which may or may not happen, they don’t have a lot to work with beyond their cap exceptions.
The Bulls have been talking with Nikola Mirotic, whom they hold the draft rights to, about coming over from Spain next season. Mirotic has a hefty contract with Real Madrid and an even heftier buyout said to be worth $3.1 million. In order for the Bulls to make it worth it to Mirotic to payout the buyout, they are going to have to give him likely every dime of their Mid-Level exception, meaning no real exception money for Augustin.
If Mirotic opts to remain in Spain for one more year there may be a window for Augustin to get a new deal with the Bulls.
The answer to obtaining both players for next year might be to Amnesty Boozer, and while that is easy for fans and media members to talk about, there is a hard cost of $16.8 million that comes with that scenario. Would Chicago really pay $16.8 million for the right to give Mirotic and Augustin new deals? The answer there is likely no.
If the Bulls could find a team with cap space willing to take on Boozer’s final year for little or nothing in return, then there is a scenario that makes good business sense for the Bulls.
Augustin’s track record might keep his open market value somewhat low and that does play into Chicago’s favor, but when you look at the two-year, $4 million deal Denver’s Nate Robinson got this past summer after a similar rebirth in Chicago, that might be the price tag Augustin could command. That’s still a very workable number for Chicago.
»In Related:The 2015 NBA Free Agent List.
Jerryd Bayless – Boston Celtics – $3,135,000
PPG- 9.0 APG- 2.7 RPG- 2.0 PER- 12.26
Since arriving in Boston, Bayless has put up some decent numbers, especially from the three point line. Viewed around the league as more of a hybrid two-guard, Bayless may not get a lot of love as a point guard, but he does look to be an interesting option for a team looking for a solid guard off the bench. Bayless has become a reasonable defender and might fit nicely on a veteran team looking for a bargain priced player.
Bayless really blossomed last year in Memphis, especially after moving to more of a backup two guard role for the Grizzlies.
As a free agent, he may not see the kinds of contract dollars he is currently earning in the final year of his deal worth roughly $3.13 million, but he could be an interesting addition.
Signing Bayless may not get a team’s fans excited, but looking at who is available, he is clearly one of the better options on the board.
Shaun Livingston – Brooklyn Nets – $884,293
PPG- 8.1 APG- 3.2 RPG- 3.2 PER- 14.74
Maybe it’s because of the history with his knees, but Shaun Livingston continues to get passed around and almost everywhere he’s landed he’s had success. Brooklyn’s midseason turn around can be traced directly back to Jason Kidd leaning on Livingston. When you look at how the team plays with him on the floor, it’s hard to imagine he’s playing for $880,000.
In 2007, Livingston suffered arguably one of the more gruesome knee injuries we’ve seen in the modern NBA and has worked his way back to not only being a productive player, but he’s proven again this year that he’s a guy who make an impact.
Unfortunately for Brooklyn, that means a higher price tag that they may be unwilling to match. It’s unlikely that someone is coming with a ton of money for Livingston this summer, but it does seem more likely than not that someone is going to put a real multi-year offer on the table and he is going to need to take it.
When you look at his impact on the Nets, it’s hard to imagine a team in need of a solid and dependable veteran guard isn’t going to put some cash on the table. For Livingston, who was once considered a $60 or $70 million player, he is going to have to go where the dollars are.
While these are the top six unrestricted point guards, there are a few others worth knowing. You can find the complete list of 2014 NBA Free Agents here.
Later this week, we’ll look at the top free agent shooting guards and the top free agent small forwards.
Six Things You Need To Read: Here are some of the things you need to read to get your NBA Day started right:
- Thibodeau: Noah Deserves MVP Consideration.
- Head to Head: Is Tanking an Issue in the NBA?
- Full 2014 NBA Mock Draft – 3/31/14.
- Sources: Wiggins to Declare for NBA Draft.
- Carmelo: ‘We Control Our Own Destiny’.
- Vogel: Frustrations Are Mounting with Team.
More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @TheRocketGuy, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @SusanBible @TommyBeer, @JabariDavisNBA , @NateDuncanNBA , @MokeHamilton , @JCameratoNBA and @YannisNBA.
Sources: Gregg Popovich, Kawhi Leonard Held Meeting on Tuesday
San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard met with coach Gregg Popovich on Tuesday in San Diego, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The meeting between the two faces of the Spurs’ franchise was done professionally and confidentially, league sources said.
Source: Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports
NBA Daily: Lots Of NBA Draft Chatter
With the 2018 NBA Draft less than 50 hours away, Basketball Insiders’ publisher Steve Kyler digs into the last from around the NBA.
Lots Of NBA Draft Chatter
With the 2018 NBA Draft on Thursday, things in NBA circles are getting interesting, specifically on the trade front.
The final 2018 Consensus Mock Draft will drop tomorrow, just after the media availabilities in New York, from there we’ll be tracking the minute to minute news, trades and rumors in the 2018 NBA Draft Diary.
So, with that in mind, let’s dig into what we know some 50 hours until the draft gets underway.
Kawhi Watch In Full Swing
With the news last week that San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard may no longer want to be a Spur breaking, there is still a sense in NBA circles that the Spurs are not going to listen to trade offers until the hear from Kawhi directly.
If you know anything about the Spurs organization, you know that we won’t hear the details of this situation in a minute by minute way like we do from some organizations, especially considering the Spurs have never had to deal with a scenario quite like this.
The interesting part of this story is how split the “sourcing” is on what’s real. There have been reports from several different reporters suggesting that the situation isn’t as dire as initially reported and that the Spurs and Leonard have had dialogue, but not the face-to-face meeting the Spurs covet.
It’s unclear why there hasn’t been a meeting, and that is what has some in NBA circles believing the Spurs will open up the phones on Wednesday and see what they can extract for Leonard if only to do their due diligence.
One league source commented that it might be tough for the Spurs to get value out of Leonard mainly because of his injury situation and the idea that he’d only re-sign with the Lakers. The same source doubted that Leonard’s camp would fence themselves inmto just the Lakers because that would make getting him traded extremely difficult, especially if the Lakers wouldn’t offer value to San Antonio.
The sense today is the Spurs are standing their ground. The thing to know is that this situation still seems very fluid, and that face-to-face conversation (or lack of one) could swing this thing in either direction. It is clear several teams would have interest if the Spurs decide to listen to offers, even if it just a rental for the upcoming season.
Trades At The Top Still Viable
It a typical NBA draft there is chatter about top tier picks being traded, but usually, it dies off the week for the draft as teams look in on who they ultimately want to draft.
This year, and unlike previous years there is a sense that several of the picks at the top of the board could be had, especially if it returns draft picks later in the draft and solid veterans.
The Sacramento Kings seem to be leaning towards keeping their pick at number two, and it’s looking more and more likely that Marvin Bagley III is their guy. The Kings took a very long look at Michael Porter Jr, and as of this weekend there was a sense they were OK with where Porter Jr is at medically, but he may lose out to the less risky Bagley. League sources continue to doubt the Kings grab Euro sensation Luke Dončić, so we’ll see if that holds true as we get to draft day.
The Atlanta Hawks have had the third overall pick on the market from almost the moment they landed it. The Hawks seem ready to use the pick but are said to still be exploring their options. The prevailing thought this week is it’s down to Bagley, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Trae Young for the Hawks, with more and more league sources believing the Hawks will draft Young at three. While the notion of grabbing Young at three may seem high, the Hawks have had eyes on Young from the start of the process, and not much seems to have changed. The Hawks have made it clear they would take on contract money in exchange for additional draft assets, so it seems likely the Hawks will be active, even if it’s not moving the third pick.
Things start to get interesting with Memphis at number four. There have been numerous reports that the Grizzlies have dangled the fourth pick in an attempt to shed the contract of Chandler Parsons. Sources close to the situation say the Grizzlies have had some offers, and most of them involve the Grizz picking up expiring contracts and additional draft assets lower in the draft. It’s unclear if the Grizzlies will pull the trigger, but they seem to have deals if they want one.
The prevailing thought in NBA circles is the Grizzlies are the first real landing spot for Dončić. There is also talk of Wendell Carter Jr., and Mo Bamba landing at four.
The Dallas Mavericks at five seem open to taking on contract dollars and could be the landing spot for the fourth pick and Chandler Parsons, but league sources say the Mavericks would not give up the fifth pick unless it returned an All-Star or would-be All-Star.
There are a few other situations to watch as several teams have expressed interest in moving up. The Clippers hold two pretty solid selections and 12 and 13 and seem willing to combine them to move into the top 5. The Denver Nuggets have also expressed some interest in moving to the top five.
The Lakers and Celtics have expressed similar interest at points in the process, but both seem reluctant at this point to part with future assets to pay the price to jump to the top of the draft.
Porter Still A Possibility
The Michael Porter Jr. situation is murky. After two visits from NBA teams, the word on Porter is mixed. NBA teams have seen his MRIs and his medical, and select teams were allowed to bring their doctors and trainers to his most recent “workout.”
The worst case from one team that’s not considering him is that he may require an additional surgery down the line. This same team said their doctors didn’t think anything going on with Porter would jeopardize his career, but they felt like he’d have to be on a program and has a ways to go before they’d deem him a 100 percent.
The upside case, from a team with Porter squarely on their board, is that there wasn’t anything going on they didn’t expect and that their staff felt fairly positive they could not only manage his situation, but they felt they could get him right fairly quickly.
Amusingly, the narrative around Porter is that he could be the next Kevin Durant-type scorer in the NBA (Porter clearly isn’t as long and lanky as Durant) – but he does possess the ability to get his offense against almost anyone.
As one executive whose team wasn’t considering Porter joked, you could get Durant or you could get Greg Oden, hinting at the injury-riddled career of the former top pick back in 2007.
Where Does Luka Go?
There isn’t a more polarizing NBA Draft prospect than Real Madrid’s Luke Dončić. You would be hard-pressed to find an NBA executive who didn’t think Dončić could be special in the NBA. But you might also be hard-pressed to find one willing to bet their job on it.
Throughout this process, more than a couple of executives have expressed they are hopeful Dončić goes high, mainly because it would give them cover in future drafts to do the same thing, which is draft what appears to be the most NBA ready player in the class, despite his flaws.
The problem is if Dončić isn’t special or struggles like some have concerns he might, not only would a team leave a potential franchise cornerstone on the board to in passing on uber-talented collegiate prospects, it might cost the lead executive their jobs.
While that seems somewhat short-sighted, think about the executives drafting in the top six. How many are not under pressure to turn their franchises around? And would a huge draft miss seal their fate?
Atlanta’s Travis Schlenk at three seems pretty secure. Dallas’ Donnie Nelson at five seems pretty secure. Orlando’s Jeff Weltman and John Hammond at six seem fairly secure, but it gets dicey elsewhere in the top 10.
As we’ve seen in previous drafts, NBA executives can and often do outthink themselves, which why every draft has quality impact guys falling later in the process.
There is little doubt Dončić is going in the top 10; it would be pretty surprising if he got past Dallas at five.
Sexton Over Young?
The Orlando Magic seems to be dialing in on what’s there for them at six, assuming they don’t trade up, which they have explored with both Atlanta and Memphis. The prevailing thought among fans is that if Trae Young is there at six, the Magic will pounce.
Early on in the process, though, the Magic seemed to be seriously interested in Collin Sexton, and word is that be might the Magic’s guy at six. The Magic ultimately will catch what falls to them, and if Dončić, Bagley or Jackson are there, things get interesting. However, if the draft goes as scripted, Orlando seems more likely to go, Sexton, Bamba, Carter or Knox than Young – at least at this point.
The draft is a fluid domino effect process, so at six the Magic have to cover a lot of bases, and it seems they have with their individual workouts.
The Magic desperately covet an impact player, so don’t be surprised if the Magic pull the trigger on a move-up deal, especially as we get closer and closer to the moment of truth.
Bamba Could Slide
You won’t find many NBA executives who don’t find Texas big man Mo Bamba intriguing. The problem for Bamba if there are some many super talented bigs in the 2018 NBA draft he is caught in a numbers game.
League sources said recently that Bamba is in the mix at two to the Kings, four to Grizzlies, five to Mavericks, six to the Magic and seven to the Bulls. The problem is he doesn’t seem to be the first or second option to any of those teams at this point.
According to league sources there continues to be questions about how his offensive game fits into the modern NBA, and with more versatile guys sitting at the top of the draft, Bamba is looking more like the consolation prize later in the draft. You will be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t think Bamba will be a monster defensively in the NBA, but the question remains which team is drafting defense at the top of the board?
If there is a player outside of the top five that could tumble a little, it might be Bamba, especially if the Mavericks pass at five.
Over the next few days, we’ll be posting all of the draft-related news, notes, rumors and trades in the 2018 NBA Draft Day Diary, so if you want a one-stop shop for all things NBA Draft, bookmark it.
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NBA Daily: Kaiser Gates Determined To Silence His Doubters
He may not be listed on some draft boards or seen as an impact player by certain individuals, but Kaiser Gates knows what he’s made of.
If you’re looking to further your career at the next level but coming out of college as a prospect on the fringe, you’d better be willing to work twice as hard to draw attention from the basketball world.
Attending the Preparation Pro Day in Miami with team representatives and scouts watching, Kaiser Gates wanted to show everybody who was there that the chip on his shoulder would drive him to silence his doubters.
“I feel like I have a lot to prove,” Gates said in Miami. “I feel like a lot of the guys in the draft this year, I’m just as good if not better than (them), so I gotta show that.”
After three years at Xavier University, the 22-year-old decided it was time to move on from the program and passed on his senior year to enter the NBA Draft. The news came as a surprise to many, considering he might’ve gotten the opportunity to earn an even more expanded role next season with the departure of Musketeer favorites Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura.
The numbers across the board weren’t exactly eye-catching. Primarily a wing, Gates knocked down 37.8 percent of his threes as a junior. He averaged 7.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in almost 24 minutes per game.
Looking at conference play in the Big East, those figures took a dip. Gates shot less than 30 percent from deep and really struggled to contribute offensively for Xavier against tougher opponents.
There was an incredible discrepancy in shot selection over his three-year collegiate career. Astoundingly enough, 300 of his 409 career attempts came outside of the arc. The other 109 tries were twos, which he converted at a 54.1 percent rate.
It’s hard to ignore statistical evidence when it comes to evaluating players, but misuse and fit could have been more prominent factors in this case. It’s something that happens quite a bit at school programs with prospects, and Gates believes that he could be added to that list of mishandled talent.
“I don’t think I’m inconsistent at all,” Gates said. “At Xavier, I know my stats showed that I was inconsistent. Playing at that school it was a great experience—great guys, great coaches.
“Just kinda like my situation and the way I was playing at that school didn’t really allow me to showcase my full talents, and with that being said, it’s kinda hard to stay consistent not doing something I’m used to doing.”
Furthering the point, it’s not easy to be judged off that information, which some use as the only indication of what you’ll bring to the pros. Gates plans on using that as motivation whenever he meets with different teams.
“I would come in and people would just assume like, ‘Oh he could shoot a little bit, play defense, a little athletic.’ But I know on the flip side, I know what I can really do and like, my full potential.
“So when I know that and see what teams already think, already have in their head, just now it’s up to me to prove to them what I can do and show them what I can do.”
So what does that exactly entail?
“My first few years or so, I’ll probably be more of a three-and-D guy—stretch the floor, play defense make hustle plays, rebound the ball, things like that,” Gates said. “But as I’mma grow, (I’ll) look to expand on my game. Maybe work out the pick-and-roll a little bit and expand from there.”
Thus far, the 6-foot-8, 228-pounder has reportedly worked out for multiple organizations, including the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls. He is enjoying the draft process and his growth as a player since it started.
He may not be listed on some draft boards or seen as an impact player by certain individuals, but Gates knows what he’s made of. And if he can attract the right set of eyes, he’ll be in good shape.
“You could get 30 workouts and that one team could fall in love with you,” Gates said.
“That’s what [my agent] Aaron Turner’s always talking to me about. He’s always said, ‘It only takes one team.’”