And-Ones: NBA Awards, G League, Smith, York

For an entertaining piece about the process of NBA award voting, Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype interviewed voters, players and PR staffers about some behind-the-scenes aspects of how awards are handed out at the conclusion of an NBA season.

Some of the more interesting tidbits include:

  • Team PR representatives and agents will actually sometimes call a voter and argue for their respective player, coach, etc. by getting into details regarding stats, achievements, records, etc. They’ll also even point out flaws of other candidates.
  • Voters generally put a lot of work into their voting process, as social media reprisal is a scary thing (the NBA publicizes the voters’ choices each season). This can be a double-edged sword – you want to hold each voter accountable but you also want voters to have the confidence to stray from the pack if they have a reasonable basis for doing so.
  • Some more prominent writers choose not to vote for awards, as there is potential for blow-back from players, coaches, etc. they didn’t vote for, especially since the newest CBA essentially grants salary raises based on media votes.

The whole piece is worth a read. Below are some additional odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The NBA has released a statement regarding the success of the G League’s development of players, reporting that a total of 52% of players on 2018/18 NBA end-of-season rosters played in the G League at some point.
  • Per Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports, G League guard Scoochie Smith has signed a contract with Peristeri BC of The Greek Basket League. Smith, 24, averaged 12.2 points and 6.3 assists per game for the Canton Charge during the 2018/19 season.
  • Smith also passes along word of another overseas signing by a G League guard in Greece, with Gabe York of the Lakeland Magic joining AEK Basketball Club, also of The Greek Basket League. York averaged 16.4 PPG and 3.0 APG this past G League season.

Nets Upset By Joel Embiid’s Antics

Some bad blood may be brewing in the first-round division match-up between the Sixers and Nets, according to Stefan Bondy of the Daily News, who writes that several of the Nets’ players, including veteran forward Jared Dudley, swingman Caris LeVert, and guard Spencer Dinwiddie, are upset with perceived disrespect being displayed by Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid.

For Dudley, it was apparent that Embiid crossed a line in Game 2 when he elbowed Nets’ center Jarrett Allen and proceeded to show no remorse (i.e. he was laughing) when asked about the incident during his post-game press conference.

“I felt a certain type of way about it. Just because you’re laughing when somebody could’ve gotten really, really hurt,” Dudley said. “That’s been Embiid’s personality. But just because it’s your personality doesn’t mean it’s right.”

Embiid, who has created somewhat of a secondary story line in this series through the constant media attention on his availability while he plays through knee tendinitis and as a result of the cell phone incident, doesn’t appear to be impressing LeVert with his antics either.

“We didn’t really like (Embiid laughing),” LeVert said. “We thought that was kind of disrespectful especially after the elbow he threw. It is what it is. There’s no love lost.”

Further frustrating the Nets is a perceived favoritism, or star treatment by the referees for Embiid, which manifested itself when Embiid was not ejected from the game as a consequence of his elbow to Allen’s head/face. Embiid was only charged with a Flagrant 1, and Dinwiddie says that if the roles were reversed, Allen would’ve been assessed a Flagrant 2 and ejected.

“If J.A. throws the same elbow and hits Joel, he’s getting ejected. That’s just kind of what it is,” Dinwiddie said. “But we can’t play that game. All we have to do is go out there and play our game and be who we are, and we’ll be fine, just like we were in Game 1.”

Game 3 between the two teams is scheduled for Thursday night at 8:00pm EST on TNT. Given the above, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see another flagrant or two during tomorrow’s contest.

Grizzlies Hire Rich Cho, Glen Grunwald

The Grizzlies are adding two former NBA general managers to their front office, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPNRich Cho, a former GM with both the Hornets and Trail Blazers, will now serve as the Grizzlies’ Vice President of Basketball Strategy, while former Knicks and Raptors’ executive Glen Grunwald has been hired as a Senior Advisor. The team officially announced the news earlier this evening.

Woj previously noted that the Grizzlies were still looking for some more experienced basketball executives to work alongside (or perhaps below) Jason Wexler and Zach Kleiman, who were promoted last week to head of basketball operations and VP of basketball operations, respectively.

Accordingly, It’s likely that today’s moves will end the Grizzlies’ front office rebuild that began with the demotion of former head of basketball operations Chris Wallace, given both Cho’s and Grunwald’s basketball acumen.

As noted by Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian, Cho’s time in Charlotte coincided with Kleiman’s internship with the franchise while he was a law student at Duke University. Interestingly, Kleiman also did a summer internship with the Knicks in 2008 while Grunwald was in New York.

Those two connections, together with Kleiman being quoted in the official release from the team, make it seem likely that he, and not Wexler, may be the executive with whom Cho and Grunweld will primarily work, leaving Wexler to continue dealing with his responsibilities as president of business operations.

Herrington also adds that Grunwald will work remotely from Canada, where he currently (and still will) serves as the President and CEO of Canada Basketball.

Blake Griffin Inactive For Game 2

According to Malika Andrews of ESPNPistons forward Blake Griffin has been listed as inactive for tonight’s Game 2 in Milwaukee.

Griffin was originally reported as likely being out for the entire first-round series against the Bucks after missing Game 1, but head coach Dwane Casey told reporters after Monday’s practice that Griffin’s availability for Game 2 was still up in the air, which it was until roughly an hour before tonight’s tip-off.

Griffin, who evidently doesn’t have any structural damage in his left knee but is dealing with swelling and pain, may still need to have a procedure done this summer, but the team and Griffin will investigate that possibility once the Pistons’ season is over.

The 30-year-old All-Star, who aggravated the injury during warm-ups on April 8 before the team’s penultimate regular season game against the Grizzlies, will now look to be available for Game 3, which could potentially be a must-win game if the Bucks win tonight.

Warriors Notes: Durant, Cousins, Beverley

Despite perhaps surrendering a chance​ to​​ claim​ additional MVP awards and scoring titles, among other accolades and/or recognition, Warriors forward Kevin Durant does not appear to have any regret about joining Golden State in the summer of 2016, writes Michael Lee of The Athletic.

“I came here knowing for a fact, that every media member, every fan was going to call me every name in the book for however long I was here and I was going to take the brunt of everything. I knew coming here,” Durant said. “But I wanted to be a part of this so bad, I didn’t (care).”

According to Lee, Durant has actually had the chance to improve his game despite playing with a better supporting cast because he has learned to move more consistently and more urgently while off the ball and further developed his ball handling, helping him get to his spots where his high-released shot remains lethal.

In regard to the constant comparison to other greats, Durant says that comparison is simply a need for joy, and that when you focus on other player’s accomplishments instead of your own goals, you end up taking away from the focus of trying to make yourself the greatest that you can be. Accordingly, Durant appears to be singularly concerned with this season and winning a third-straight championship with the Warriors.

There are a few other notes out of Oakland this evening:

  • In an interesting piece worth a full read, Nick Friedell and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN reflect on the injury suffered by center DeMarcus Cousins in the Warriors’ Game 2 loss to the Clippers on Monday night. The team understandably still possesses a great amount of confidence in their ability to win a championship without Cousins’ help, but even if a third-straight banner is raised, the storybook ending for Cousins after returning from a torn Achilles is no longer on the table.
  • In another article surrounding the news of Cousins’ season-ending quad injury, Anthony Slater of The Athletic analyzes how life will change for Golden State without their big man now (more opportunity for Andrew Bogut and Kevon Looney), in the near future (perhaps not a big issue against the Rockets), and later on this summer (could the Warriors get Cousins back on the cheap for a second straight offseason?).
  • In a separate article from Friedell, it’s relayed that Durant is not worried about the Clips’ pesky point guard Patrick Beverley causing Durant to lose his rhythm. “(I could make some contested shots over Beverley), (b)ut that’s not really gonna do nothing for us with the outcome of the game, ’cause we got a nice flow, everybody’s touching the rock, everybody’s shooting and scoring.” In other words, Durant isn’t going to force anything in some kind of veiled effort to show-up Beverly or win a one-on-one contest.

2019 NBA Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Dallas Mavericks

Dirk Nowitzki‘s 21-year career with the Mavericks came to an end this season, signaling the end of an era in Dallas. But after a pair of trades – one on 2018’s draft night and one leading up to the 2019 deadline – the Mavs believe they’ve identified a pair of young building blocks capable of leading the franchise for years to come. In addition to Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavs are also armed with some cap flexibility entering the 2019 offseason.

Here’s where things currently stand for the Mavericks financially, as we continue our Offseason Salary Cap Digest series for 2019:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents

Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Cap Holds

Projected Salary Cap: $109,000,000
Projected Tax Line: $132,000,000

Offseason Cap Outlook

  • Realistic cap room projection: $29.33MM. This scenario would see the Mavericks retain all their players on guaranteed contracts, including Powell (if he opts in), along with the cap holds for Porzingis, Finney-Smith, and Kleber. Once they use up their space, they could go over the cap to re-sign their three RFAs.
  • The Mavs could potentially clear a little more cap room if they agree to a longer-term deal with Powell that lowers his cap hit for 2019/20. Stretching Lee would also be an option to create about $7.6MM in extra space, but in order to seriously consider such a move, the team would need to have a clear, pressing need for that space.
  • Max cap room scenario: $48.26MM. This would be achieved by Powell opting out, followed by the Mavs renouncing all of their non-Porzingis free agents, waiving all their non-guaranteed salaries, and stretching Lee. It’s probably not a realistic outcome.

Cap Exceptions Available

  • Trade exception: $1,233,152 (expires 1/31/20)
  • Trade exception: $21,299,378 (expires 2/7/20)
  • Room exception: $4,760,000 4

Footnotes

  1. The salaries for two-way players don’t count against a team’s cap.
  2. Broekhoff’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after June 29.
  3. The Mavericks have a 26.2% chance of moving up into the top four in the draft lottery and keeping their first-round pick. In that scenario, a cap hold for the pick would be added to this list.
  4. This is a projected value. In the unlikely event that the Mavericks remain over the cap, they’d instead gain access to the mid-level exception ($9,246,000) and bi-annual exception ($3,619,000).

Note: Minimum-salary and rookie-scale cap holds are estimates based on salary cap projections and could increase or decrease depending on where the cap lands.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and RealGM was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hoops Rumors’ 2019 NBA Award Picks: Sixth Man Of The Year

While the NBA won’t announce this year’s award winners until June, we’re making our picks for 2019’s major awards over the next two weeks.

The Hoops Rumors writing team has weighed in with our choices below, but we also want to know which players, coaches, and executives you think are most deserving of the hardware this season, so jump into the comment section below to share your thoughts.

We’re keeping things going today with the award for Sixth Man of the Year. Here are our selections:

Clark Crum: Lou Williams (Clippers)
Williams has (once again) put together one of the greatest regular season performances of any reserve in NBA history.

If you limit the definition of “reserve” to only those players who started 5 games or less during a season (i.e. true reserves) while playing 20+ MPG, Williams’ 2018/19 numbers rank third all-time in PPG (behind Ricky Pierce in 1989-90 and 1990-91) and APG (behind Hall-of-Famer John Stockton in 1986-87 and Jarrett Jack in 2012-13) and ninth all-time in PER. And while his numbers last season were even better, Williams was able to help lead his team to the playoffs this year.

There are certainly other candidates who had fantastic seasons, including – but not limited to – Williams’ teammate, Montrezl Harrell, and Pacers’ big man Domantas Sabonis, but Williams’ impact on the game is still unmatched in today’s NBA.

Arthur Hill: Lou Williams (Clippers)
The reigning Sixth Man of the Year is an easy choice to win the award again. He averaged better than 27 points per 36 minutes and provided the Clippers with enough scoring punch to  reach the playoffs after trading away Tobias Harris. Williams fits the instant offense role as well as anyone ever has and may contend for this award every year until he retires.

Luke Adams: Lou Williams (Clippers)
Williams’ eligibility for this award, which I expect him to win unanimously, seems almost unfair. But the fact that the Clippers can bring their most talented scorer off the bench is a testament to their depth, which allows Doc Rivers to run out a solid starting five before plugging in Williams and Harrell to pound teams’ second units.

Of course, it’s not as if Williams was padding his stats against bench players all season — he was a key closer for the Clippers in crunch time, finishing third in the NBA in total fourth quarter points, behind only James Harden and Kemba Walker.

Dana Gauruder: Lou Williams (Clippers)
At the rate he’s going, Williams will be averaging 30 points per game when he turns 40. He’s getting better as he gets older. Not only did he average 20 PPG, but his assist total was a career best 5.4 APG. He also led the Clippers on some crazy second-half comebacks. His $8MM salary is one of the league’s biggest bargains.

JD Shaw: Lou Williams (Clippers)
Several people have privately questioned why the Clippers choose to bring him off the bench, but the one-two punch of Williams and Harrell (another deserving Sixth Man of the Year candidate) has taken teams by surprise all season long. Williams averaged 20 points per game, his second straight season of scoring 20 or more, shooting 42.5% from the floor and 36.1% from 3-point range. It would be the third Sixth Man of the Year award in his 14-year career (2015, 2018).

Who is your pick for Sixth Man of the Year? Share your choices and your thoughts in the comment section below!

Previously:

Still to come:

  • Most Improved Player
  • Rookie of the Year
  • Defensive Player of the Year
  • Most Valuable Player

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pelicans Notes: Davis, Griffin, Holiday, More

Making his first public appearance today as the Pelicans‘ new executive vice president of basketball operations, David Griffin offered an interesting take on the Anthony Davis situation.

As Will Guillory of The Athletic relays (via Twitter), Griffin said that after meeting with agent Rich Paul, he believes that Davis could be open to staying in New Orleans. Griffin has yet to speak to Davis directly, but plans to do so in the hopes of establishing whether AD is all-in or all-out on the Pelicans (Twitter link). He’s committed to convincing the 26-year-old that it’s possible to win in New Orleans (Twitter link).

It still seems like a long shot that Davis will be a Pelican to start the 2019/20 season, but Griffin made it clear today that he won’t let the All-NBA big man go without a fight, tweets Scott Kushner of The Advocate. As Kushner notes (via Twitter), New Orleans’ new head of basketball operations doesn’t think the Davis well is poisoned, and believes Paul is excited to work together.

Here’s more from Griffin’s introductory presser:

  • According to Griffin, he made some “outrageous” demands during his meeting with the Pelicans, and the team was on board, giving him confidence that owner Gayle Benson is 100% committed to the franchise’s success (Twitter link via Kushner). Griffin provided some clues at the changes he wants to make, mentioning his desire to invest in areas such as analytics, player performance, and the medical department (Twitter link via Kushner).
  • Griffin is excited about several of the players currently under contract with the Pelicans, singling out Jrue Holiday as someone who represents everything the Pelicans want to be (Twitter link via Guillory). The former Cavaliers GM said he “absolutely” feels as if Holiday is a foundational piece for the club (Twitter link via Kushner).
  • Responding to the idea of New Orleans as a small-market team, Griffin said that it would mean more to win in a “small” market, adding that it’s “bulls–t” to say winning in New Orleans isn’t possible (Twitter link via Guillory).
  • Pelicans president Dennis Lauscha said the Pelicans looked at more than 100 candidates for the job before hiring Griffin (Twitter link via Kushner). Obviously, the club narrowed that list down to a much smaller group before beginning interviews. Griffin, who has been a candidate for other front office openings, said it took him about a half-hour in the interview room for him to realize that the Pelicans’ job was the one he really wanted (Twitter link via Kushner).

Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke Entering 2019 NBA Draft

Another potentially lottery pick has entered the 2019 NBA draft, as Gonzaga announced today in a press release that junior forward Brandon Clarke is submitting his name into the draft pool. While Clarke can hire an agent and retain his college eligibility before making a final decision on May 29, it would be a surprise if he withdraws.

After transferring from San Jose State, Clarke averaged 16.9 PPG, 8.6 RPG, and 3.1 BPG with a .687 FG% in 37 games with the Zags in 2018/19. Describing the youngster as a “pogo-stick” shot blocker and finisher, Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com has him ranked 12th overall on his big board.

In ESPN’s most recent mock draft, Givony has Clarke coming off the board at No. 14 to the Celtics, observing that the forward’s ability to protect the rim and to contribute right away could make him a good fit for Boston.

In other draft news, after announcing last week that he’d test the waters, Michigan’s Charles Matthews has confirmed that he’ll remain in this year’s draft (Twitter link). He’s the No. 69 prospect in Givony’s top 100.

Draft Updates: K. Johnson, Silva, Lawson, Toppin, More

Like Kentucky teammates PJ Washington and Tyler Herro, freshman guard Keldon Johnson has decided that he’ll keep his name in the 2019 NBA draft pool rather than leaving the door open to return to the Wildcats, the school announced in a press release.

Johnson’s decision to forgo his remaining NCAA eligibility doesn’t come as a real surprise. Like Washington and Herro, Johnson is projected to be a first-round pick, coming in as the No. 20 prospect on Jonathan Givony’s big board at ESPN.com.

Speaking of that big board, another prospect in that top 100 has declared for the 2019 NBA draft, according to Givony, who reports that Brazilian wing Marcos Lousada Silva has submitted the necessary paperwork.

Silva, the 61st overall prospect on ESPN’s board, impressed scouts and executives at the Nike Hoops Summit in Portland, and has had a productive season in the Brazilian league. NBA scouts have taken notice of the youngster’s high energy level and defensive versatility, Givony adds.

The following prospects are also testing the 2019 NBA draft waters as early entrants, joining the ever-growing list:


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