Last month, the NBA and D-League announced a new affiliate allocation rule, through which NBA teams are able to pick up the D-League rights of up to three of their last training camp cuts for their D-League affiliates. Effectively, it allows NBA squads to keep an even closer eye on the prospects that interested them in training camp; if those three chosen training campers decide they’d like to ply their basketball trade in the D-League, they’ll do so for their camp team’s affiliate and, optimally, under the watchful eye of the NBA team itself.
We’ve seen a number of teams lay the groundwork for utilizing this rule. It’s the simple explanation for a series of late-camp additions that would otherwise seem a bit curious. Among those additions was the Dallas Mavericks’ signing of Rashad McCants and Sean Williams, who were both subsequently waived before they did anything in Dallas at all. The Mavs didn’t ink those deals and then change their minds over the course of a few days; Donnie Nelson undoubtedly had his eye on the Texas Legends, the Mavs’ D-League affiliate which he co-owns with Evan Wyly and soon-to-be-co-owner Sonny Xiao.
McCants and Williams are both NBA-caliber talent, but have slipped out of the league based on issues that have less to do with basketball skill and more with their work ethic, focus, and off-court behavior. The latter applies far more to Williams than to McCants, but Rashad nonetheless battles a bit of a trouble-making reputation. Nelson and the Legends likely hope that McCants and Williams’ recent encounter with career mortality has humbled them, and that a stint with the Legends would represent a fresh start rather than a demotion. Only time will tell, but if McCants and Williams are willing to play ball with the Legends, it’d be a huge boon for the fledgling D-League team in the talent department.
The Legends’ roster sheet is currently blank, and should the Legends secure two quasi-NBAers as their roster starter kit, they’d have a solid foundation going into the D-League draft.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed forward Derrick Williams to a second 10-day contract.
The NBA champions have been impressed with Williams, a former No. 2 overall pick, and it’s likely they will sign him for the remainder of the season when his current contract expires. The Cavs announced Wednesday they signed Williams again. He has averaged 9.8 points and 3.0 rebounds in 22 minutes for the Cavs, who have been bringing him off their bench with their second unit.
Before signing as a free agent with Cleveland on Feb. 9, Williams played for Miami this season before being released.
The Cavs returned from the All-Star break Wednesday and will practice before hosting the New York Knicks on Thursday, just a few hours after the trade deadline.
The Hornets are essentially two different teams with and without Cody Zeller.
They’re 22-17 when he plays and 2-15 when he doesn’t. They play at a 62-win pace with him on the floor and a 29-win pace when he sits.
So, with Zeller banged up, Charlotte traded for Miles Plumee. But Plumlee hasn’t provided much, just 3.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 13.4 minutes per game in five contests.
And now he’ll add even less.
The Charlotte Hornets announced today that center Miles Plumlee underwent a Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI), which revealed a second-degree calf strain in his right leg. Plumlee will be out for Charlotte’s game tomorrow at Detroit and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
The Hornets incurred significant long-term costs ($37.5 million over the next three years) to use Plumlee as a short-term bandage. Without him providing even that, this situation looks bleak.
Depending on Zeller’s health, this could turn Charlotte — 2.5 games and three teams out of playoff position — into sellers before the trade deadline. At minimum, it makes the Hornets less likely to buy.
The Bulls reportedly reached out to the 76ers about Jahlil Okafor a few weeks ago.
After unfulfilled intrigue and maybe a trade that fell through, Okafor remains in Philadelphia. And Chicago apparently still wants him.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
As constituted, the Bulls already have a few interior bigs: Robin Lopez, Taj Gibson and Cristiano Felicio. But one or more could go in an Okafor trade or another deal.
Okafor would make the Chicago younger, confusing its direction with Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade already in place.
Perhaps, the Bulls are pushing for a trade only because they’re offering so little. Okafor’s low-post game offers intrigue. At the right price, he’d be worth adding, no matter the fit and direction presented.
Maybe the 76ers don’t go for a lowball offer, but that’d be worth trying considering their center logjam with Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. Otherwise, Chicago ought to tread carefully when pursuing Okafor.
The 76ers have played like a 64-win team when Joel Embiid and Ersan Ilyasova share the court and a 20-win team otherwise, using data from nbawowy!.
That’s helpful for Philadelphia, which is learning what type of player — a stretch four — works best with its franchise player.
But the Hawks can use more than just a lesson in the idea of Ersan Ilyasova. They can use actual Ersan Ilyasova.
And Atlanta will get him.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated:
Atlanta stills sound intent on keeping Paul Millsap, so Ilyasova will likely back him up. Ilyasova should work particularly well with Dwight Howard, whose interior play was a key factor in ushering in this stretch-four era by covering for the lighter power forward next to him.
In the last 21 months, Ilyasova has been traded five times: from the Bucks to the Pistons to the Magic to the Thunder to the 76ers and now to the Hawks. They can probably count on the veteran to settle in quickly as they try to improve their position in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff race. Atlanta is fifth, closer to third than sixth.
Both Ilyasova and Splitter have expiring contracts. The advantage of Splitter, who has missed the Hawks’ last 90 games, is that his full compensation counts toward the floor apparently without Philadelphia actually having to play all of his salary.
Plus, those picks could help the 76ers in a season where they can win something meaningful — like the Hawks have decided this season is for them.