Tag: Houston Rockets

Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks

Report: Rockets sign Chuck Hayes to one-year deal

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Chuck Hayes spent the first six years of his NBA career in Houston, never giving them many points but instead giving them good defense in the post, strength on the glass, and hustle everywhere on the court.

Now he’s back.

After a down year in Toronto, Hayes is heading to Houston to help round out a deep front court, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

The Rockets are close to rounding out their roster, but don’t expect them to be spending much to do it, notes former Nets assistant GM Bobby Marks.

Teammates love Hayes and love playing with him, which is why this is a good pickup for Houston. All Hayes does is work hard and do the little things — battles on the boards, sets hard screens, and play physical defense. He is a consummate professional.

He’s also one that has battled injuries and had a couple down seasons in a row.

That said, it’s a low-risk move for Houston to help round out a strong frontcourt already. Dwight Howard and probably Terrence Jones will start, behind them is the underrated Donatas Motiejunas, plus youngsters Clint Capela and Montrezl Harrell. This could mean fewer minutes for Capela and Harrell, but there should be chances for everyone.

This is simply another solid addition to a title contending team.

Who is still out there: Top 10 free agents still on the market

Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Four

At this point in what has been a fast-moving summer, most teams are just rounding out the final couple spots on their rosters. The guys at the end of the bench who may not see much playing time once the season tips off. Yet, there are still a few interesting free agent targets still on the market — a couple at the top of the list who could play significant roles for the Cavaliers next season. But even farther down are solid, veteran reserves still trying to find a chair for next season before the music stops.

Here’s our updated list of the top 10 guys still on the market.

1) Tristan Thompson — The Cavaliers and Thompson are still haggling, but a deal will get done — because LeBron James wants a deal to get done. Thompson is a restricted free agent but neither of the teams with a lot of cap space — Philadelphia and Utah — will use it to make him a big offer. He doesn’t have a ton of leverage. Plus the Cavs are deep into the luxury tax now, so every dollar spent on Thompson comes with an additional price. Kevin Love got maxed out and Thompson saw what Draymond Green got, but he’s going to have to take less than those guys to get a deal done.

2) J.R. Smith — He likely regrets opting out of the $6.4 million in the final year of his deal because he is going to take a pay cut (and very likely be on a one-year deal). He is still expected to re-sign with the Cavaliers, with whom he met last week, in part because there is not a strong market for the classic volume scorer (those Lakers rumors that popped up online Tuesday were pure fantasy, LA is not interested).

3) Jason Terry — In the wake of the Ty Lawson trade it has been expected around the league Terry would reach a deal as a reserve in Houston, but that has yet to be finalized. In fact, the Rockets renounced their rights to him (he can still sign with Houston, the Rockets cannot offer more than any other team now, however). He may not defend much anymore, but he did shoot 39 percent from three last season.

4) Carlos Boozer — He’s much maligned by fans for his shortcomings (particularly on defense), but he still averaged 11.8 points a game shooting nearly 50 percent last season for the Lakers. As a scoring big off the bench who can run the pick-and-pop Boozer has value. The Mavericks, Knicks, and Rockets are reportedly interested.

5) Kevin Seraphin — A solid, traditional, backup big who thought there was a healthy market for him outside Washington where he played behind Marcin Gortat. Turns out not really. The Knicks, Lakers, and Wizards are reportedly still interested on some level.

6) Darrell Arthur — Denver is expected to re-sign him this week. He averaged 6.6 points a game last season for the Nuggets, plus he is a solid defender who plays a smart game. As a reserve at the four he makes a lot of sense.

7) Dorell Wright — The small forward shot 38 percent from three last season for Portland, but he played a limited role for that team. Coming off hand surgery, there hasn’t been much of a market for him.

8) Andre Miller — He had some early talks with the Sacramento Kings, but it seems unlikely he goes back to his friend George Karl after the Kings picked up Seth Curry. Miller is a high IQ, veteran reserve point guard that some team will eventually pick up, but the league is deep at that position, and there aren’t many openings.

9) Norris Cole — He’s a restricted free agent who may end up playing in New Orleans next season on the qualifying offer, and then will test the market again next summer. He played pretty well for the Pelicans at the end of last season (9.9 points a game, shot 38 percent from three) and would back up Jrue Holiday. There have been talks with the Sixers, but are they going to make an offer large enough that the Pelicans will not match it? Not likely.

10) JaVale McGee — Dallas reportedly has shown interest, and other teams may as well, but only if he can pass a physical and prove he’s healthy. His contract was bought out by the Sixers, so he’s getting paid anyway, will he be motivated?

Report: Michael Jordan shot down Boston draft-day effort to get Charlotte No. 9 pick

Michael Jordan

It’s a common practice in the NFL draft: Teams trade down to get multiple picks. The move is almost always seen as smart. For the NFL’s annual war of attrition, having the extra bodies makes a lot of sense.

You don’t see it much in the NBA for a reason — you only have a 15-man roster and only nine of them likely play on a given night. Talent wins out, and the talent drop off going down even five or six picks can be steep. If you can get a potential star with your draft pick, you take it, he will matter far more than two guys who may be guys nine and 12 on the bench. However, there are times trading down makes sense in the NBA, if you don’t think you’re getting that star.

That was the situation facing the Hornets in this past draft. They had the No. 9 pick, and Boston wanted it (for Justise Winslow, reportedly, who fell to Miami at No. 10). Boston came knocking on Charlotte’s door with a bevy of picks, and there was a split in Charlotte about whether this was a good idea, reports Zach Lowe at Grantland. For the first time, we know what was offered, and it’s pretty impressive.

Michael Jordan was the ultimate decision maker.

The Celtics offered four first-round picks for the chance to move up from no. 16 to no. 9: that 16th pick, no. 15 (acquired in a prearranged contingency deal with the Hawks), one unprotected future Brooklyn pick, and a future first-rounder from either the Grizzlies or Timberwolves, per sources familiar with the talks.

Some members of Charlotte’s front office liked the Boston deal, but Michael Jordan, the team’s owner and ultimate decision-maker, preferred Kaminsky to a pile of first-rounders outside the lottery, per several sources.

source: Getty ImagesThe bet Jordan made was that Kaminsky is a star. Except nobody projects him that way. He’s a quality big who can pick-and-pop and be part of the rotations, sure. He’s a solid pick. But is he better than four first round picks for a Charlotte team that needs way more talent on the roster?

This feels like something that has happened in Charlotte before: Jordan watches a lot of the NCAA tournament, falls in love with a player who performs well (Kaminsky) and hijacks the draft process. The Hornets will deny this, but it’s how it looks from the outside.

At the No. 15 and 16 picks in this draft, Kelly Oubre and Terry Rozier were taken, although guys such as Jerian Grant, Bobby Portis, and Sam Dekker were still on the board. Kaminsky is more valuable than one of them, but will he ultimately produce more than two of those guys? Plus two future picks? Not likely. Charlotte is stuck in the rut of mediocrity in the East, picking Kaminsky doesn’t move them out of this lane. Do those four picks? Maybe not, but it’s a path, a chance.

Charlotte’s decision makers defended their choice.

“You have two minutes to decide: ‘Do I want to do this trade?’” says (Curtis) Polk, one of five men atop Charlotte’s decision tree. “You don’t have a day. You don’t have hours. After all the intelligence we’d done, we were comfortable with Frank. But now you have two minutes to decide if you make this trade, who you’re gonna take at no. 16, or maybe no. 20, and we haven’t been focusing on that range. In fantasy basketball, it sounds great: ‘Oh my god, they could have gotten all those picks.’ But in the real world, I’m not sure it makes us better.”

Adds Rich Cho, the team’s GM: “If it was such a no-brainer for us, why would another team want to do it?”

Because Boston saw Winslow as a star, and at a position they need help.

On draft night when this came up and the rumors flew around that four picks were being offered, I said it’s tough to say what to do because we didn’t know what the picks were, how far out and how protected. Now that we do… if I were in the Charlotte decision tree I would have pushed to make the deal.

Now we all wait three years and then can look back to see who might have been right. It would have been a difficult decision in the moment, but I’m not sure Charlotte made the right call.

Phil Jackson says Knicks wanted Goran Dragic at trade deadline. Because he’s such a triangle fit?

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12:   New York Knicks president Phil Jackson watches from the stands as his team plays the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on March 12, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.   The Knicks won 101-94.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Rule No. 1 about winning in the NBA: It’s all about the talent.

Gregg Popovich is brilliant, but he’s not wearing rings without Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Tony Parker and the others. Phil Jackson was the master at getting great players to buy into a team concept, but he had great players, from Michael Jordan through Kobe Bryant.

And Jackson knows if he wants to turn the Knicks around, he needs exceptional talent. Like maybe Goran Dragic — when healthy one of the better point guards in the NBA. In his conversations during the season with his old friend Charlie Rosen (now published at ESPN), Jackson talked about eyeing Dragic at the trade deadline last February.

“Goran Dragic, for one. I heard through the grapevine that he was open to coming here. We worked hard on that possibility, but the asking price was too dear. Maybe we worked on that possibility so much so that it distracted us. I mean, Dragic is every team’s current choice for a nuclear option — a guard who can penetrate and either score or kick. Guys like Chris Paul and James Harden. But, anyway, that’s not really the way I want us to play.”

As a reminder, the Jackson and the Knicks moved first, on Jan. 5, took part in a three-team trade that sent Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith to Cleveland. On Feb. 19 the Suns moved Dragic to the Heat in another three-team trade, which netted the Suns Danny Granger, John Salmons, and the real prize of two future first round picks (2017 and 2021). Dragic then re-signed with the Heat this summer.

But it’s the last line that is the most interesting from Jackson: “But, anyway, that’s not really the way I want us to play.” Dragic, like any traditional point guard who needs the ball in his hands, is not a fit in the triangle.

Jackson wants to validate his vision of the triangle in a new era. He wants an unselfish team where players cut and move off the ball, where the system is as big a star as the players. Like the Hawks, I guess.

But the system is only going to be as good as the players in it. What both the Bulls and Lakers for Jackson did well was put in role players who fit and bought into the system around their elite stars. Jordan, Kobe, Shaq, Pippen, etc. would have been successful regardless of the system. We can debate whether Carmelo Anthony can be one of those elite stars, but there is no debate the Knicks need more of them. Maybe Kristaps Porzingis can be, but we’re a few years from finding that out for sure. In the short term, the Knicks did a good job getting solid role players like Arron Afflalo and Robin Lopez that will work in the triangle. That’s a start.

As much as changing the culture and putting in a system, Jackson knows he needs more elite players if he is going to bring a title back to NYC. Even if that means bending the triangle a little to make them work.

Jackson knows, he can talk all he wants about system and style, it comes down to talent first. Restock that cupboard and the triangle will look great again.

Damian Lillard says he likely will not take part in USA Minicamp, “I don’t know why I would go”

Utah Jazz v Portland Trail Blazers

The list of players expected to be at Team USA’s mini-camp in Las Vegas in August is impressive and could reach near 40 players trying to gain favor for a potential Rio Olympics spot. Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love, Andre Drummond and many others are expected to take to the court. Meanwhile big names like Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony will be there, but with limited if any participation.

Just don’t expect to see Damian Lillard.

The Trail Blazers’ guard was the final cuts from Team USA last year before the FIBA World Cup, Kyrie Irving that spot, and he seems a little bitter about this. He was on the Jody Mac show on CBSSports Radio Saturday and had this exchange:

Jody Mac: Are you headed to Vegas next month?
Lillard: Probably not.
Jody Mac: Why Not?
Lillard: I did it the last few summers and last summer I didn’t make it. I don’t know why I would go. After I got cut last summer, I don’t think I’m a part of it.

ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that Lillard was expected to be there, although it doesn’t sound like it from this interview.

Lillard’s problem is the NBA, and USA Basketball, is deep with elite point guards right now (Curry, Irving and Derrick Rose made the roster that won gold last year). While Lillard was on the bubble last summer remember that Durant, Anthony, LeBron James, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, not to mention point guards Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul didn’t show up for that event. Every one of them knocks Lillard another peg down the ladder (even though some play different positions, LeBron and Durant certainly are ball handlers).

Lillard can do what he wants, he’s under no obligation or commitment. But is this the kind of attitude that’s going to make free agents the next few years say “I want to go to Portland to play with this guy?” It probably doesn’t sway guys much, but it might make a few think about it.