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New Faces In New Places: Southwest Division

A look at some of the new additions to teams in the NBA’s Southwest Division.

John Zitzler



After taking a look at the Southeast, Central, Northwest, Pacific, Atlantic Divisions, Basketball Insiders continues its New Faces in New Places series with a look at the Southwest Division.

Dallas Mavericks

Chandler Parsons: The biggest move in a busy offseason for Dallas was prying Chandler Parsons away from, their rival, the Houston Rockets. Parsons put together three very solid seasons with the Rockets, on his way to a big pay day this summer signing a deal with Mavericks worth $46.1 million. With the Mavericks making such a big investment in Parsons, expectations will be high. Parsons has the ability to do a little bit of everything. Last season with the Rockets, he averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. What may be most encouraging is the growth Parsons has shown in his three years in the NBA, steadily improving his numbers throughout his career. He will play a vital role this season with the veteran group in place and will be an important player going forward, as many of the team’s older players finish their careers.

Tyson Chandler: Tyson Chandler technically isn’t a new face in a new place as he returns to Dallas for his second stint with the team, but we’ll allow it. Chandler will step right in and be the Mavs’ starting center from day one. He will be counted on for his interior defense, which has been a staple of his game throughout his career. This season will be Chandler’s 14th in the NBA and throughout his career he has never averaged less than 1.1 blocks per game. He will fit right in with the veteran culture in Dallas and will offer a fiery presence in the paint.

Jameer Nelson: After spending the first 10 years of his career in Orlando with the Magic, the two decided to part ways this summer. Nelson joins Dallas and will likely be the team’s starting point guard. He is another one of the Mavericks’ veteran additions that will be counted on to guide the team back to the postseason. Nelson brings a wealth of experience; he has played in 44 playoff games, averaging 15 points per game during those contests. Nelson is still a more than capable shooter from three, despite having a bit of a down year last season, shooting 34.8 percent. He is a career 37.4 percent shooter from deep. He won’t have to be spectacular, just steady, to give the Mavericks what they need from the point guard position.

Raymond Felton: Felton, like Chandler, comes to Dallas from the New York Knicks. He spent last year as the Knicks’ starting point guard but figures to come off the bench behind Jameer Nelson for the Mavs. While Nelson is the likely starter, Felton will still be counted on to play valuable minutes off the bench. Felton struggled mightily last season shooting the ball, as he shot just 39.5 percent from the field and was even worse from three, shooting 31.8 percent. Having a reduced a role will take some of the pressure off Felton to be a scorer, which should help him become more efficient. However, it may take Felton some time to adjust to his new role; over his NBA career he has played in 667 games, starting in 612 of those. If Felton can make the adjustment, his experience should help stabilize the team’s second unit.


Houston Rockets

Trevor Ariza: When the Rockets decided not to match Chandler Parsons’ offer from the Mavericks, it left them with a huge hole to fill. Parsons had been one of the team’s most productive players over the last three years, doing a little bit of everything. The Rockets understood just how important it was to replace that production, signing veteran forward Trevor Ariza. Ariza played great last season with the Wizards, finishing the season as the team’s third leading scorer and second leading rebounder. James Harden and Dwight Howard will still be expected to carry the load, but Ariza will fit in nicely as a complementary piece. He doesn’t have the same long-term potential as Parsons, however, in the short term the team shouldn’t lose too much.

Jason Terry: The Rockets acquired Terry in an early September trade with the Sacramento Kings. The 37-year-old played in just 35 games in his first and only season with Nets this past year, missing significant time with an injury. Terry isn’t the same player he once was, but he still has the ability to knock down big shots under pressure. He won’t be expected to play heavy minutes with the Rockets, as he just isn’t capable of such a role this late in his career. However, he should fit in well with the Rockets’ up-tempo style and will be able to offer a perimeter threat off the bench.


New Orleans Pelicans

Omer Asik: The biggest offseason addition for the Pelicans was Omer Asik. Asik, who was frustrated with his role in Houston, will almost certainly get the chance to be a starter in New Orleans. He is one of the best rebounders in the game and will give the Pelicans a physical presence alongside Anthony Davis. The duo figures to be one of the better defensive pairs in the West. When Asik has been given the opportunity to start he has been extremely productive; during the 2012-13 season, he started every game for the Rockets, averaging 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds. The Pelicans will hope to get similar results from their new big man. The addition of Asik gives the Pelicans another talented piece to a core that already includes Jrue Holiday, Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans among others. The Pelicans have a chance to be one of the more surprising teams in the NBA this coming season.

John Salmons: The Pelicans added the veteran Salmons this summer, signing him to a reasonable one-year, $2 million deal. Salmons gives the Pelicans experience wing off the bench with his ability to get hot and go on scoring runs. He can be a streaky, but he has proven throughout his career that he can score in a variety of ways. He will be part of the Pelicans’ second unit and his experience should help stabilize the group. If he can consistently score the ball off bench, he may prove to be one of the better value signings of this offseason.


San Antonio Spurs

Kyle Anderson: To no one’s surprise, the Spurs were very quiet during free agency. They instead opted to spend their money to re-sign and extend many of their own players. Boris Diaw, Patty Mills, Matt Bonner and Aron Baynes all agreed to new deals and Tony Parker was signed to a contract extension. However, they did land one of the more intriguing prospects in this past draft in Kyle Anderson. Anderson, who stands at 6’9, is an excellent passer who does a great job finding cutters. He has been compared to Diaw, with his ability to handle and operate with the ball despite his size as well as play multiple positions. Anderson will likely be groomed to play a role similar to what Diaw currently plays. He won’t be counted on immediately, but has the chance to be an impact player down the road.


Memphis Grizzlies

Vince Carter: One of the more surprising moves of the summer was Vince Carter signing with the Grizzlies. Carter, who played the last three seasons with Dallas, signed a three-year deal with Memphis worth $12.3 million. The team has relied on Tony Allen to handle a good chunk of the shooting guard minutes over the last few years. Allen is clearly an elite defender, one of the best at his position in the NBA today, but isn’t much of a threat on offense. The addition of Carter will give the Grizzlies a great alternative to Allen (as well as Courtney Lee) when they are looking to put out a more offensive-minded lineup. He has developed a very good three-point shot late in his career, shooting 40.6 percent in 2012-13 and 39.4 percent this past season. His ability to score from the perimeter should prove valuable and help the Grizzlies space the floor, giving their two big men room to operate. In addition to Carter, Memphis added two rookies who could have an impact this season in Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes.


This is John's second year with Basketball Insiders, after spending last season working as an intern. Based out of Milwaukee, he covers the NBA with a focus on the Milwaukee Bucks and the Central Division.


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NBA Daily: Danuel House Optimistic About Future

David Yapkowitz speaks to Danuel House about life as a two-way player for the Houston Rockets & what he hopes comes out of his time in the G League with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

David Yapkowitz



Opportunity is everything in the NBA. Last season’s implementation of two-way contracts gave a lot more players potential opportunities in the league that may not have been previously available.

One player who has used two-way contracts to showcase himself and really prove that he belongs in the NBA is Danuel House Jr.

House actually began his career two years ago as an undrafted rookie with the Washington Wizards. However, he suffered a wrist injury only about a month into the 2016-17 season.

He was subsequently cut by the Wizards and used the summer to heal up before joining the Houston Rockets for training camp prior to the start of last season. He ended up being one of the final cuts in camp, and he joined the Rockets’ G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

His strong play earned him a two-way contract with the Phoenix Suns after only two months of G League play. This year, he rejoined the Vipers, only to earn another two-way contract with the Rockets. Having had some experience now with a two-way, it’s something that House sees as being beneficial.

“It’s got its good perks and its bad perks. But then the NBA is just trying to open more doors for more guys to be seen and have an opportunity,” House told Basketball Insiders. “I think it’s a good idea, it’s gonna work the kinks out so it can be more beneficial to the players. It’s still new and it’s still trending and working itself through the NBA.”

This season has been a bit of a whirlwind for House. He initially joined the Golden State Warriors for training camp, only to have them cut him before the start of the season. After spending about a month with the Vipers, the Rockets called him up, only to cut him and then eventually re-sign him to a two-way deal.

Due to injuries in the Rockets lineup, House saw meaningful minutes right away, even being placed in Houston’s starting lineup. He had some solid performances down the stretch of last season with the Suns, but this season he really looked the part of a legitimate NBA rotation player.

When a player signs a two-way deal, they are allotted a maximum of 45 days of NBA service, meaning that the rest of the time they must remain in the G League. If a player exceeds the 45-day limit, they must be sent back down to the G League unless they’re able to reach an agreement on a standard contract with the NBA team.

Because of the Rockets’ necessity of House in the rotation, he used up his NBA days last month. He and the Rockets were unable to agree on a contract, so he returned to the G League with the Vipers. While there haven’t been many updates as of late, he’s still hopeful that something can work out with the Rockets.

“Hopefully I can go back to Houston and compete for a title. There’s nothing like learning from James [Harden] and Chris Paul, Gerald Green, Eric Gordon and those guys,” House told Basketball Insiders. “And now with the additions of [Iman] Shumpert and Kenneth Faried, I’m just excited to hopefully get something done so I can be out there and competing with those guys.”

Initially, House wasn’t playing with the Vipers upon returning to the team. But he made his return to the court a few weeks ago on Feb 8. In that game, House shook off some initial rust and ended up having a solid performance including hitting the game-winning free-throws.

In the past, the G League was often times seen as a punishment for NBA players. The league didn’t have that great of a reputation, but over the past few years that image has started to change. The competition has gotten a lot stronger, and according to House, there are plenty of guys who are that close to making it to the NBA.

“The competition here is real. There’s a lot of dudes out here that got a lot of talent that they can showcase. They just want their one opportunity, their one chance that I was so fortunate and blessed with,” House told Basketball Insiders. “I know not to come out here and take it for granted, that’s why I’m playing hard and of course still trying to be a student of the game and learn.”

Recently, during a media availability session, Rockets star and perennial MVP candidate James Harden expressed hope that the Rockets and House could work something out. Harden told reporters that they all know how good House is and what he brings to the team.

In 25 games for the Rockets this season – including 12 starts – House put up nine points per game while shooting 45.8 percent from the field and 39 percent from the three-point line. He’s in the mold of a three-and-D type player, but he also moves well without the ball on cuts to the rim and can attack the basket as well.

“My role was to play defense and make the right read,” House told Basketball Insiders. “Shoot when I’m open, drive, attack the rack, and run the floor. Of course, defend and rebound and make good reads. It was easy.”

As it stands, the Rockets have 12 players on their roster, and a pair of two-way deals for House and Vincent Edwards. House is not eligible to rejoin the Rockets until the G League season concludes. Even then, he won’t be eligible to play in the playoffs as per two-way deal restrictions.

The Rockets will need to add at least two players to get up to the league-mandated 14 players on the roster. House would appear to be a good candidate for one of those spots, but that remains to be seen. But regardless of whether or not it works out in Houston, House is confident that he’s done enough to prove he belongs in the NBA.

“It gave me the utmost confidence, but my hard work, my passion, and my faith in the man upstairs gave me the ability. I asked him to guide me through the journey and he’s been taking care of me,” House told Basketball Insiders. “I’m so grateful that the opportunities and I used my ability to perform and do something I love to take care of my family.”

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PODCAST: Checking In On Clippers & Lakers, East Arms Race, Warriors’ Challengers

Basketball Insiders Deputy Editor Jesse Blancarte and Writer James Blancarte evaluate the L.A. teams after the trade deadline, break down the Eastern Conference contenders, and look for the Warriors’ biggest challengers.

Basketball Insiders



Basketball Insiders Deputy Editor Jesse Blancarte and Writer James Blancarte evaluate the L.A. teams after the trade deadline, break down the Eastern Conference contenders, and look for the Warriors’ biggest challengers.

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NBA Daily: Ujiri Leading Golden Era of Raptors Basketball

Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri has taken big risks in going all in for the 2019 season and – with a potentially shortened window – it’s the right move, writes Lang Greene.

Lang Greene



The Toronto Raptors (43-16) are on pace for their fourth consecutive 50-plus win season and barring a collapse of epic proportions will shortly secure their sixth straight trip to the playoffs.

Make no mistake, this is the golden era of Raptors basketball. Period.

The easiest thing in the world to do is play a situation safe. Minimize risk and accept the near certain outcome. Heading into the season, as previously constructed, the Raptors were already on a trajectory to reach 50 wins and secure a playoff berth. However, Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri made the risky decision to turn off cruise control and go all in on a championship this season.

The reason was simple – five straight trips to the Eastern Conference playoffs netted only one trip past the second round and some seriously embarrassing postseason eliminations. So sure, the franchise could have stayed the course with the previous roster framework, but realistic title aspirations were a stretch at best.

To begin the roster reconstruction, the Raptors traded All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan, big man Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first round pick to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for 2014 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and veteran guard Danny Green.

Green and Leonard immediately provided Toronto with championship heart and grit, something lacking from the team in year’s past. The trade was a huge risk for Ujiri with free agency looming this summer for Leonard (and Green) and having to say goodbye to DeRozan, a homegrown talent and the franchise’s all-time leading scorer.

Toronto rolled early this season and have remained near the top of the Eastern Conference standings, but Ujiri doubled down at the trade deadline by acquiring former Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol in exchange for Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles and a 2024 second-round draft pick.

In just over six months, Ujiri was able to acquire two former Defensive Player of the Year award winners while gutting his roster of familiar faces fans came to know during the team’s recent run to prominence.

The Raptors currently sit one game out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The moves are driving results and most believe the Raptors are legitimate title contenders. But the risk for the franchise is most definitely real. Gasol, Leonard and Green are all expected to hit the unrestricted free agency market this summer which could leave the franchise facing a real possibility of losing all for nothing in return.

The prospect of losing Leonard and Gasol would undoubtedly take Toronto from the top of the East to a club scrapping to even make a playoff run in 2020. Ujiri went all in for a title this season. Leonard’s future is uncertain and so is Gasol’s. But the prospect of truly competing for a title was too tantalizing to pass up after years of setbacks around playoff time.

Inevitably all teams must go through a time of rebuilding or reloading. Despite Toronto’s previous success, their window was limited in nature and closing rapidly, so you have to admire Ujiri’s daring to be great mindset.

For reference, the Atlanta Hawks reached the postseason 10 consecutive times from 2008-2017 but the franchise’s front office played it relatively safe during their run devoid of any major moves. The Hawks watched All-Star performers Al Horford and Paul Millsap ultimately leave for nothing in return. Atlanta’s rebuild is in good shape with guard Trae Young, big man John Collins and an additional lottery pick this season.

However, the team never swung for the fences during their run – something Ujiri wouldn’t let happen – despite the huge risks needed to be potentially a champ.

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