Tag: Evan Fournier

New Orleans Pelicans v Minnesota Timberwolves

Pelicans pull French center Alexis Ajinca out of EuroBasket


New Pelicans’ coach Alvin Gentry has big plans for Alexis Ajinca. In the coach’s up-tempo offense, Ajinca’s athleticism makes a good fit behind and next to Anthony Davis. With that, Ajinca is expected to see an increased role and minutes (even though the team did bring back Omer Asik). That’s why they signed him to a four-year, $20 million deal this offseason.

Ajinca has been playing this summer with the French national team as they prepare to defend their EuroBasket title and earn a berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics. However, a week before the tournament starts, the Pelicans have pulled him out, reports eurohoops.net.

The player felt pain in his Achilles tendon since the start of the preparation period at the 20th of July. His condition remained unchanged, however the New Orleans Pelicans decided to forbid him from playing in the Eurobasket.

This was not a situation that was so bad New Orleans said he couldn’t even consider playing for his country; it was a relatively minor issue. But as it hasn’t improved, the Pelicans decided not to risk anything with a guy they just agreed to lock down for four years.

This is a blow to France, but they remain one of the deepest teams at EuroBasket and one of the favorites. They still have Rudy Gobert at center, Tony Parker at the point, plus guys like Boris Diaw, Nicolas Batum, and Evan Fournier on the roster. They could defend their crown, but that task just got a little harder.

What NBA stars will suit up for EuroBasket? Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker among others

pau gasol spain olympics

EuroBasket matters — it offers both the bragging rights of a European championship and is the 2016 Olympic qualifier for Europe. The top two finishers get their tickets punched for Rio for the 2016 games (the USA and Brazil have already qualified). Finishers three through seven get invited to the 2016 pre-Olympics qualifying tournament, where they can try to play their way into the final field of 12 (likely a couple of them succeed).

Because it matters, some of the NBA’s big names will suit up when play tips off Sept. 5 —  Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker among others. There are 29 players under NBA contract in total expected to participate. Mark Cuban and many NBA GMs will watch clutching their lucky blanket and hoping against injury, but this is the kind of tournament that draws stars.

If you’ve wondered who is going, here’s a list of every NBA player suiting up in EuroBasket, hat tip to Hoopshype.

Bojan Bogdanovic (Brooklyn Nets)
Mario Hezonja (Orlando Magic)
Damjan Rudez (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Alexis Ajinca (New Orleans Pelicans)
Nicolas Batum (Charlotte Hornets)
Boris Diaw (San Antonio Spurs)
Evan Fournier (Orlando Magic)
Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
Joffrey Lauvergne (Denver Nuggets)
Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs)

Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks)
Tibor Pleiss (Utah Jazz)
Dennis Schroeder (Atlanta Hawks)

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
Kosta Koufos (Sacramento Kings)
Kostas Papanikolaou (Denver Nuggets)

Andrea Bargnani (Brooklyn Nets)
Marco Belinelli (Sacramento Kings)
Danilo Gallinari (Denver Nuggets)

Omri Casspi (Sacramento Kings)

Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto Raptors)

Marcin Gortat (Washington Wizards)

Zaza Pachulia (Dallas Mavericks)

Nemanja Bjelica (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Pau Gasol (Chicago Bulls)
Nikola Mirotic (Chicago Bulls)

Furkan Aldemir (Philadelphia 76ers)
Ersan Ilyasova (Detroit Pistons)

Alex Len (Phoenix Suns)

Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris coming into their own for Magic

Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Gerald Green

BOSTON – Nikola Vucevic is more confident than ever and playing the best basketball of his life.

Perhaps, it’s because the Magic gave him a four-year, $54 million contract extension last offseason.

“It just kind of gives you a kind of peace of mind, to where you do what you do, and you don’t have to worry about those things,” Vucevic said. “I feel like I know that I put the summer in, the work in, and I know what I sacrificed to get to here. Now, when I get on the court, there’s no reason for me to doubt myself.”

On the flip side, Orlando failed to reach a deal with another rookie-extension-eligible player, Tobias Harris. If Vucevic’s extension made him comfortable, how did Harris not getting one affect him?

“I’m always going to work hard at anything I do just because I love this game,” Harris. “Ever since I was a kid playing basketball, I always just instilled the work ethic in myself to be the best that I can be, free agent or non-free agent.”

Vucevic confirms Harris’ mindset hasn’t changed. In fact, Vucevic has though the sacrifices Harris makes to improve are “sometimes even too much.”

“He wants to compete all the time,” Vucevic said. “Whatever you do, he has to be the best. When it comes to dressing up, the car you have, the music you listen to, whatever – Tobias, he has to be the best.”

So who has the team’s best car?

“I do,” said Vucevic, who declined to share what he drives.

Though Vucevic’s vehicle remains a mystery, here’s what’s clear: A confident Vucevic and competitive Harris are driving the Magic, and if they keep this up, they’ll deserve real All-Star consideration.

Orlando has repeatedly hit the right notes with these two. The Magic drafted neither Vucevic (No. 16 in 2011) nor Harris (drafted No. 19 the same year), acquiring both in trades. Vucevic came from the 76ers in the Dwight Howard megadeal, and Harris from the Bucks as the primary return for J.J. Redick. Whatever motivational factors Orlando had in mind when negotiating their contract extensions last offseason, Vucevic (18.2 points on 52.0 percent shooting and 11.8 rebounds per game) and Harris (18.6 points on 47.4 percent shooting and 7.2 rebounds per game) are having All-Star-type seasons.

Between six and eight frontcourt players will make each All-Star team. Vucevic and Harris rank fifth and sixth among Eastern Conference frontcourt players in Estimated Wins Added, a PER-based stat that accounts for playing time, behind only LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Al Jefferson and Chris Bosh.


This is not to suggest Vucevic and Harris should make the All-Star game, merely that they’re reasonable candidates. Of course, it’s unlikely they’ll be treated as such – especially in tandem.

The Magic are 11-20. It’s hard enough for a losing team to send a player to the All-Star game, let alone two. In the last 30 years, just 11 teams with losing records at the All-Star break produced multiple All-Stars.

Team Record at All-Star break All-Stars
2012-13 LAL 25-29 Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard
2011-12 BOS 15-17 Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo
2007-08 WAS 25-27 Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison
2006-07 NJN 25-29 Vince Carter, Jason Kidd
2005-06 HOU 22-31 Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming
1996-97 MIN 23-25 Kevin Garnett, Tom Gugliotta
1994-95 DET 17-29 Joe Dumars, Grant Hill
1993-94 NJN 22-24 Kenny Anderson, Derrick Coleman
1992-93 GSW 23-30 Chris Mullin, Tim Hardaway
1992-93 DET 21-29 Joe Dumars, Isiah Thomas
1987-88 PHI 20-23 Charles Barkley, Maurice Cheeks

All those teams had better winning percentages than this year’s Magic. The last team with such a poor record and two All-Stars was the 1971-72 Cavaliers, who were 15-32 at the break and sent Butch Beard and John Johnson. Back then, the East had just eight teams from which to build an All-Star squad.

Now, with 15 teams per conference and an unofficial allocation of reserve votes based on team record, it’s a practical certainty Vucevic and Harris can’t both reach the All-Star game.

If one makes it – and that’s far from guaranteed – it will probably be Vucevic, whom Doc Rivers called an All-Star. The Clippers coach also described Vucevic as “probably the best player in the league that nobody knows.”

“When he says nobody knows me, it’s kind of true,” Vucevic said. “Not a lot of people knew about me before, but I’ve never been worried about it. I knew what I was capable of. I had the talent. I just had to keep working to sustain it and become good.”

Without question, Vucevic is good. The 7-foot center is an effective post player with range well outside the paint. He’s shooting 66.0 percent at the rim and 43.0 percent from mid-range. Only Anthony Davis tops both those marks (minimum: 100 shots from each location). Vucevic, though his feet still run a little slow and he’s not a great rim protector, is making defensive progress. For the first time, the Magic are allowing fewer points per possession with him on the court than off, though he’s always hovered around their team-wide mark.

Similarly, Harris is on the right track. He’s shooting 39.3 percent on 3-pointers, well above the 28.0 percent he was shooting beyond the arc entering this season. His increased range has opened the floor for himself and teammates, and he likes to advantage with well-timed cuts to the baskets. Playing more small forward this season after seeing a lot of time as a stretch four last season, Harris has really enhanced his all-around game.

The big question: If these guys are so good, why is Orlando so bad?

It’s a fair point.

To some degree, they’re putting up numbers on this team because someone has to. But imagine where the Magic would be without Vucevic and Harris. Orlando performs better when those two share the court than any of its other 10-most-used duos. And more directly, Harris has hit two game-winning jumpers.

Earlier this month against the Hawks:



And last month against the 76ers:

With Harris already holding a reputation for clutch play entering the season, a dearth of quality wings around the league and a rising salary cap looming, Harris will get plenty of attention this summer. Don’t be surprised if the annual salary on his next contract exceeds $10 million.

He’s reportedly interested in the Knicksplaying in New York would reportedly trigger a bonus in his Nike contract – but he’ll be a restricted free agent. The Magic can keep him, and he’s on record saying he wants to remain in Orlando.

If all else fails, Harris could accept the qualifying offer for next season and become an unrestricted free agent in 2016, when the salary cap should skyrocket. If Harris starts 17 more games or plays 1,121 more minutes this season, he’ll raise his qualifying offer from $3,394,726 to $4,433,683. It’s a small advantage, one Harris is likely to meet, but it’d nudges him a little closer to that route.

How much would the Magic pay to keep Harris? They have one of the league’s most egalitarian salary structures.

Channing Frye ($8,579,088) is the second-lowest-paid player among teams’ highest-paid players, behind only the 76ers’ Jason Richardson ($6,601,125). Victor Oladipo ($4,978,200) is the lowest-paid player among teams’ second-highest-paid players. Ben Gordon ($4.5 million) is the lowest-paid player among teams’ third-highest-paid players, behind only the 76ers’ Joel Embiid ($4,427,640).

And so on. The Magic’s fourth- (Aaron Gordon), fifth- (Vucevic), sixth- (Luke Ridnour) and seventh- (Elfrid Payton) lowest-paid players are the or among the lowest-paid in the league for their team rank. It’s telling that Orlando’s second- and fourth-highest paid players are still on their-rookie scale contracts.

What it means: The Magic still have incredible flexibility to shape their roster.

Their seven highest-paid players are all contract for next season. That’s when Vucevic’s big extension kicks in, and Frye is the only other Orlando player slated to make more Oladipo’s rookie-scale salary. Harris is the team’s eight-highest-paid player.

So, if the Magic think they’re onto something here – with a young core that also includes an emerging Oladipo and Evan Fournier – there’s little reason to let Harris bolt. Frye, the team’s veteran leader, sure believes they’re onto something with Vucevic and Harris.

“They’re developing as leaders on this team, as kind of the pillars of where we’re going to build this team,” Frye said. “And I’m cool with that. I’m very cool with that. And it’s an honor to play with these guys and watch them develop, and I think they’re both learning that they can’t do it by themselves and that with each other, we’re a very good team. We’re going to put it all on them.”

For now, both players are still trying to find their place in the league individually.

Vucevic, with the big extension and nice car, is a bit further along in that process. Even Harris, who said he drives a BMW M6, admitted Vucevic had the team’s top car – though not without his signature competitiveness showing in the answer.

“He does,” Harris allowed, “now. But – yeah he does.”

Told of Harris’ admission, Vucevic calmly nodded.

Vucevic’s confidence and Harris’ competitiveness are working for each player right now. Vucevic is proving why he got paid, and Harris is showing why he should get paid. In the process, the duo is driving the Magic in the right direction, and the next major stop might just be New York for the All-Star game.

Report: Magic could have gotten first-round pick in Arron Afflalo trade

Denver Nuggets v Sacramento Kings

The Magic’s trade of Arron Afflalo for Evan Fournier and the No. 56 pick was one of the most flummoxing deals in recent memory.

Couldn’t Orlando have gotten more for Afflalo, who had just been mentioned as a key piece in potential deals for the No. 1 pick or Kevin Love?

Maybe “more” is in the eye of the beholder

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

It’s unclear what the other parts of such trades would have been. The Magic were reportedly talking Afflalo with the Bulls, who had the Nos. 16 and 19 picks.

But as Lowe alluded, Fournier is thriving. He’s averaging 18.2 points on 51 percent shooting, both from the field and 3-point range.

Meanwhile, Afflalo’s production is way down in Denver. Plus, Fournier is seven years younger and on his rookie contract this season and next.

I thought the Magic could have gotten more for Afflalo than a meager return. Turns out, they did.

Every rookie-contract team option and extension decided by Friday

2013 Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day

Friday was the deadline for a few contract items for first-round picks on the rookie scale.

Third-year options had to be exercised for second-year players, and fourth-year options had to be exercised for third-year players. Any player whose rookie-scale option was declined becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season.

It was also the deadline for fourth-year players to sign extensions that begin in 2015-16. Eligible players who didn’t sign extensions can, at their teams’ discretions, become restricted free agents this summer.

Remember, the salary scale for first-round picks is determined by the year they sign, not the year they’re drafted (those are usually the same).

Here’s how all those decisions were made around the league:

Third-year options

Draft Pick Drafted by Current team Player 2015-16 salary Option
2013 1 CLE MIN Anthony Bennett $5,803,560 Exercised
2013 2 ORL ORL Victor Oladipo $5,192,520 Exercised
2013 3 WAS WAS Otto Porter $4,662,960 Exercised
2013 4 CHA CHA Cody Zeller $4,204,200 Exercised
2013 5 PHO PHO Alex Len $3,807,120 Exercised
2013 6 NOH PHI Nerlens Noel $3,457,800 Exercised
2013 7 SAC SAC Ben McLemore $3,156,600 Exercised
2013 8 DET DET Kentavious Caldwell-Pope $2,891,760 Exercised
2013 9 MIN UTA Trey Burke $2,658,240 Exercised
2013 10 POR POR C.J. McCollum $2,525,160 Exercised
2013 11 PHI PHI Michael Carter-Williams $2,399,040 Exercised
2013 12 OKC OKC Steven Adams $2,279,040 Exercised
2013 13 DAL BOS Kelly Olynyk $2,165,160 Exercised
2013 14 UTA MIN Shabazz Muhammad $2,056,920 Exercised
2013 15 MIL MIL Giannis Antetokounmpo $1,953,960 Exercised
2013 17 ATL ATL Dennis Schröder $1,763,400 Exercised
2013 18 ATL NYK Shane Larkin $1,675,320 Declined
2013 19 CLE BRK Sergey Karasev $1,599,840 Exercised
2013 20 CHI CHI Tony Snell $1,535,880 Exercised
2013 21 UTA MIN Gorgui Dieng $1,474,440 Exercised
2013 22 BRK BRK Mason Plumlee $1,415,520 Exercised
2013 23 IND IND Solomon Hill $1,358,880 Exercised
2013 24 NYK NYK Tim Hardaway $1,304,520 Exercised
2013 25 LAC LAC Reggie Bullock $1,252,440 Exercised
2013 26 MIN OKC Andre Roberson $1,210,800 Exercised
2013 27 DEN UTA Rudy Gobert $1,175,880 Exercised
2013 29 OKC PHO Archie Goodwin $1,160,160 Exercised
2013 30 PHO GSW Nemanja Nedovic $1,151,760 Declined

No. 16 pick Lucas Nogueira signed with the Raptors this summer, and No. 29 pick Livio Jean-Charles, whose rights are held by the Spurs, has yet to sign in the NBA.

Fourth-year options

Draft Pick Drafted by Current team Player 2015-16 salary Option
2012 1 NOH NOP Anthony Davis $7,070,730 Exercised
2012 2 CHA CHA Michael Kidd-Gilchrist $6,331,404 Exercised
2012 3 WAS WAS Bradley Beal $5,694,674 Exercised
2012 4 CLE CLE Dion Waiters $5,138,430 Exercised
2012 5 SAC POR Thomas Robinson $4,660,482 Declined
2011 5 TOR TOR Jonas Valanciunas $4,660,482 Exercised
2012 6 POR POR Damian Lillard $4,236,287 Exercised
2012 7 GSW GSW Harrison Barnes $3,873,398 Exercised
2012 8 TOR TOR Terrence Ross $3,553,917 Exercised
2012 9 DET DET Andre Drummond $3,272,091 Exercised
2012 10 NOH NOP Austin Rivers $3,110,796 Declined
2012 11 POR POR Meyers Leonard $3,075,880 Exercised
2012 12 HOU OKC Jeremy Lamb $3,034,356 Exercised
2012 13 PHO MIL Kendall Marshall Third-year option declined  
2012 14 MIL MIL John Henson $2,943,221 Exercised
2012 15 PHI ORL Maurice Harkless $2,894,059 Exercised
2012 16 HOU   Royce White Third-year option declined  
2012 17 DAL BOS Tyler Zeller $2,616,975 Exercised
2012 18 HOU HOU Terrence Jones $2,489,530 Exercised
2012 19 ORL ORL Andrew Nicholson $2,380,594 Exercised
2012 20 DEN ORL Evan Fournier $2,288,205 Exercised
2011 20 MIN HOU Donatas Motiejunas $2,288,205 Exercised
2012 21 BOS BOS Jared Sullinger $2,269,260 Exercised
2012 22 BOS   Fab Melo Third-year option declined  
2012 23 ATL ATL John Jenkins $2,228,025 Declined
2012 24 CLE LAC Jared Cunningham Third-year option declined  
2012 25 MEM PHI Tony Wroten $2,179,354 Exercised
2012 26 IND PHO Miles Plumlee $2,109,294 Exercised
2012 27 MIA   Arnett Moultrie $2,049,633 Declined
2012 28 OKC OKC Perry Jones $2,038,206 Exercised
2012 29 CHI   Marquis Teague $2,023,261 Declined
2012 30 GSW GSW Festus Ezeli $2,008,748 Exercised

Contract extensions

Draft Pick Drafted by Current team Player Extension
2011 1 CLE CLE Kyrie Irving Five years, $89 million-$98 million
2011 2 MIN SAC Derrick Williams No extension
2011 3 UTA UTA Enes Kanter No extension
2011 4 CLE CLE Tristan Thompson No extension
2009 5 MIN MIN Ricky Rubio Four years, $55 million
2011 6 WAS   Jan Vesely Fourth-year option declined
2011 7 SAC CHA Bismack Biyombo No extension
2011 8 DET MIL Brandon Knight No extension
2011 9 CHA CHA Kemba Walker Four years, $48 million
2011 10 MIL NOP Jimmer Fredette Fourth-year option declined
2011 11 GSW GSW Klay Thompson Four years, $70 million
2011 12 UTA UTA Alec Burks Four years, $42 million-$45 million
2011 13 PHO PHO Markieff Morris Four years, $32 million
2011 14 HOU PHO Marcus Morris Four years, $20 million
2011 15 IND SAS Kawhi Leonard No extension
2011 16 PHI ORL Nikola Vucevic Four years, $54 million
2011 17 NYK NYK Iman Shumpert No extension
2011 18 WAS   Chris Singleton Fourth-year option declined
2011 19 CHA ORL Tobias Harris No extension
2011 21 POR   Nolan Smith Third-year option declined
2011 22 DEN DEN Kenneth Faried Four years, $50 million
2011 24 OKC OKC Reggie Jackson No extension
2011 25 BOS   MarShon Brooks Fourth-year option declined
2011 26 DAL UTA Jordan Hamilton Fourth-year option declined
2011 27 NJN   JaJuan Johnson Third-year option declined
2011 28 CHI MIA Norris Cole No extension
2011 29 SAS SAS Cory Joseph No extension
2011 30 CHI CHI Jimmy Butler No extension

No. 23 Nikola Mirotic signed this season and not for scale.