Davis Bertans

Mock NBA expansion draft
(AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Mock NBA expansion draft: Hawks, Hornets, Heat, Magic, Wizards

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The NBA season is on hiatus. NBC Sports is not – even if we have to venture into fantasy.

We’re holding a mock NBA expansion draft. Keith Smith is setting protected lists for existing teams. Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman will run two new teams as this project culminates in an expansion draft.

Current teams can protect up to eight players. Each team must make at least one player available. If selected, restricted free agents become unrestricted free agents. Pending options can be decided before or after the expansion draft at the discretion of the option-holder. Anyone selected in the expansion draft can’t return to his prior team for one year. Players entering unrestricted free agency and players on two-way contracts are essentially ignored.

We’re unveiling protected/unprotected lists by division (here is the Atlantic Division, Central Division, Pacific Division and Northwest Division). Players are listed with their 2020-21 salary. Up now, the Southeast:

Atlanta Hawks

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 4

Ineligible – 3

Analysis: The Hawks protections are very straightforward. Every player they are protecting is either a rotation player, under team control for a while or both. No hard decisions here.

That means that Atlanta is leaving their restricted free agents and Brandon Goodwin unprotected. No major concerns over losing any of the four.

Charlotte Hornets

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 3

Ineligible – 2

Analysis: Charlotte’s decisions were fairly easy. Terry Rozier, Devonte’ Graham, Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington are all core pieces. Despite his suspension, Malik Monk still has upside. And the three young forwards (Cody Martin, Caleb Martin and Jalen McDaniels) are locked in on low salaries for a while.

Keeping the three minimum salary forwards meant leaving Dwayne Bacon unprotected. Bacon had been out of the rotation and sent to the G-League, so he’s out of the plans for now. As for Nic Batum or Cody Zeller, the Hornets would welcome getting either big salary off the books.

Miami Heat

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 1

Ineligible – 6

Analysis: Miami was really helped by having six players ineligible because they are unrestricted free agents this summer. That left just this decision point: Andre Iguodala vs KZ Okpala vs Kelly Olynyk.

Okpala is a minimum salary player, so that means he stays. Iguodala was just added and given an extension. He stays. That means Olynyk and his $13 million salary are left exposed.

Orlando Magic

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 5

Ineligible – 2

Analysis: Orlando had seven fairly easy protections. Their five starters, sixth man, and their promising young big man in Mo Bamba.

That left Khem Birch vs Al-Farouq Aminu vs Wesley Iwundu. Aminu was left unprotected due to salary and coming off a knee injury. It’s unlikely he’ll be selected and the Magic will be happy to have him back. That means it came down to Birch vs Iwundu. It’s more likely Birch will be selected, given his low salary and skill as a big man, so Iwundu was left unprotected.

Washington Wizards

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 3

  • John Wall – $41,254,920
  • Isaac Bonga – $1,663,861 (Non-Guaranteed)
  • Anzejs Pasecnicks – $1,517,981 ($250,000 Guaranteed)

Ineligible – 4

Analysis: The Wizards are taking a gamble. Most of the protections were pretty easy. Bradley Beal and Thomas Bryant are key players. Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown, Mo Wagner and Jerome Robinson are all on their rookie scale deals.

Then things get interesting. Leaving John Wall unprotected may seem crazy, given he’s a former All-Star. But Wall is coming off two lost seasons due to injury and will be 30 years old at the start of next season. He’s also owed $133 million over the next three seasons. Ish Smith and Admiral Schofield stay and the Wizards throw caution to the wind. It’s unlikely Wall will be selected, but just the chance of clearing that salary off the books is a gamble worth taking for Washington.

Bradley Beal scores career-high 53 points; Wizards still can’t beat Bulls

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CHICAGO — Coby White scored 33 points to join Michael Jordan as the only Bulls rookies with consecutive 30-point games, and Chicago overcame Bradley Beal‘s career-high 53 points to snap an eight-game losing streak with a 126-117 victory over the Washington Wizards on Sunday.

Beal surpassed his previous best of 51 points at Portland on Dec. 5, 2017.

Zach LaVine had 32 points for the Bulls and broke the franchise record for 3-pointers in a season.

Chicago led by 25 early in the third quarter after scoring 15 straight, and hung on after the Wizards pulled within seven in the fourth.

White matched the career high he set the previous night against Phoenix. He also became one of three rookies since 1992 with 33 or more in consecutive games, joining Allen Iverson and Trae Young.

LaVine made six 3-pointers to extend his career-high total to 177 and break Ben Gordon’s mark of 173 in 2008-09.

Thaddeus Young scored 25 while going 5 of 7 from beyond the arc, and the Bulls hit 18 of 37 on the way to their first win since they beat San Antonio on Jan. 27.

Davis Bertans scored 22 for Washington.

White wasted no time taking over, pouring in 26 points as the Bulls grabbed a 73-58 halftime lead.

He started a 15-0 run when he nailed his fifth 3-pointer with 34 seconds left before Tomas Satoransky drove for a layup to send Chicago to the locker room with a 15-point lead.

LaVine, who scored 41 in a loss at Washington on Feb. 11, started the third quarter by nailing two 3-pointers and a free throw after Beal picked up a technical. Young finished the run with a 3 to make it 83-58.

The Wizards cut it to 107-100 in the fourth quarter. It was an eight-point game when LaVine threw down back-to-back dunks to make it 119-107 with 4:13 left.

Rockets to add Spurs buyout DeMarre Carroll, free agent Jeff Green

Spurs forward DeMarre Caroll
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images
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ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that DeMarre Carroll and the San Antonio Spurs have agreed to a buyout. Carroll will then sign with the Houston Rockets:

ESPN’s Tim McMahon added in a subsequent report that the Rockets will bring in free agent forward Jeff Green:

Green will first sign a 10-day contract with the Rockets, so he can get used to their system and see if there is a fit, Woj reported.

Carroll signed a three-year, $20.65 million contract as part of a sign and trade from the Brooklyn Nets to the Spurs this past summer. That agreement was part of a three-team trade that saw San Antonio send forward Davis Bertans to the Washington Wizards. The 10-year veteran is owed $7 million for this season, $6.65 million for 2020-21 and $1.35 million guaranteed for 2021-22. San Antonio will incur a cap hit for each of the three seasons as part of the buyout process with Carroll. How much of a cap hit will depend on how much money Carroll gave up as part of the buyout agreement.

Carroll was added via sign and trade after Marcus Morris spurned the Spurs in free agency. Morris had originally agreed to sign with San Antonio, but backed out after the New York Knicks offered him $15 million as a free agent. The Spurs moved on to Carroll as a backup plan, but he was never able to crack the rotation. He’s played only 135 minutes over 15 games with San Antonio.

Green was with the Utah Jazz earlier this season, before being waived to create a roster spot for Rayjon Tucker. The 11-year veteran Green averaged 7.7 points per game in 30 appearances with Utah. The Rockets will be the ninth different franchise Green has played for.

In Houston, Carroll and Green will join Mike D’Antoni’s small-ball crew as big man depth. Carroll and Green will likely back up P.J. Tucker and Robert Covington up front. Their experience at both forward spots will give the Rockets additional depth for their playoff run. Carroll and Green are also likely be to asked to play some center, as Houston has downsized dramatically at that position, including trading Clint Capela at the trade deadline.

Buddy Hield wins 3-point contest on final shot (video)

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CHICAGO – Buddy Hield certainly has a flair for the dramatic.

The Kings guard won the 3-point contest Saturday, hitting the last shot to edge Devin Booker in the final round, 27-26.

The night after Valentine’s Day, Hield came into his post-event press conference, set his trophy on the table and gave it a big smooch.

“As a shooter, this on your bucket list,” Hield said.

Hield has hit a game-winning 3-pointer. But this wasn’t a typical gameday.

“I had no routine this morning,” Hield said. “I went out last night.

“It was All-Star Weekend. You got to have fun too.”

Round 1

Devin Booker 27

Buddy Hield 27

Davis Bertans 26

Zach LaVine 23

Joe Harris 22

Duncan Robinson 19

Devonte' Graham 18

Trae Young 15

Round 2

Buddy Hield 27

Devin Booker 26

Davis Bertans 22

Watch Ja Morant rack up first triple-double as Grizzlies drop Wizards

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WASHINGTON — Ja Morant had 27 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds for his first career triple-double to help the Memphis Grizzlies overcome poor 3-point shooting in a 106-99 victory over the Washington Wizards on Sunday night.

Morant scored 10 of his points in the fourth quarter for Memphis, which closed the game on a 22-8 run after trailing for most of the second half. His performance impressed Wizards coach Scott Brooks and star Bradley Beal.

Kyle Anderson added 16 points and Jonas Jackson Jr. had 14 for the Grizzlies, who won despite shooting 5 of 32 from beyond the arc. Jonas Valanciunas had 18 rebounds.

Bradley Beal scored 26 points for Washington, which led by as many as 12 points early but shot 4 of 26 in the fourth quarter.

Rui Hachimura had 12 points and 11 assists in the Wizards’ third loss in their last 10 games at home. Moritz Wagner had 19 points off the bench, while Davis Bertans added 15.

Morant was the instigator throughout the Grizzlies’ late run. He found Anderson underneath for a layup to tie it at 93 with 5:33 remaining before hitting two free throws to give Memphis its first lead of the half 26 seconds later.

Clarke’s 3-pointer on his only attempt behind the arc stretched the lead to five before Morant found Anderson inside again to make it 102-95.

Morant’s 3 from the right elbow with made it 105-96 with 44 seconds remaining, sending much of the Washington crowd to the exits.