Archive for the ‘NBA’ Category

Bradley Beal appears to be staying put in the nation’s capital.

The Washington Wizards star will very likely decline his $36.4-million player option for next season and re-sign on a new five-year, $248-million contract, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

Washington selected Beal third overall in 2012. The Florida product has spent his entire 10-year career with the Wizards. He’s the franchise’s all-time leader in three-point field goals and trails only Hall of Fame big man Elvin Hayes in points scored.

Beal has earned three All-Star selections and one All-NBA nod during his time in Washington. After posting two straight runner-up finishes in the NBA scoring race, his production took a hit last season.

The 28-year-old averaged 23.2 points, 6.6 assists, and 4.7 boards over 40 appearances. Beal’s 2021-22 campaign ended in February after he underwent left wrist surgery.

The Charlotte Hornets hired Steve Clifford to return for a second stint as their head coach, the club announced Friday.

The agreement is a three-year deal that will pay Clifford $4 million in each of the first two seasons, sources told Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer. The contract also reportedly contains a team option.

“I’m happy to be returning to Charlotte, and I want to thank (franchise owner) Michael Jordan, (general manager) Mitch Kupchak and (assistant GM) Buzz Peterson for this opportunity,” Clifford said in a statement. “This is an exciting young team with a lot of talented pieces.

“Charlotte is a great city and I know first-hand the passion that Hornets fans have for this franchise. I can’t wait to get back to town and start working with our players.”

Charlotte’s decision to bring back Clifford comes days after Kenny Atkinson reportedly turned down an offer in order to remain an assistant with the Golden State Warriors.

Clifford was behind Charlotte’s bench from 2013-18, managing the team to a combined 196-214 record over five seasons. He led the club to the playoffs twice but failed to win a series; it was swept in their first appearance by the Miami Heat in 2014 before falling to Miami in seven games in 2016.

After being fired as head coach in April 2018, Clifford took over the Orlando Magic, where he went 96-131 in three seasons. Both sides agreed to part ways in June 2021.

Atkinson was never officially confirmed as Charlotte’s replacement for James Borrego but had apparently edged former Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni in the race. Following Atkinson’s withdrawal, Jordan met with D’Antoni again Tuesday to discuss the opening, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Houston Rockets have selected Auburn forward Jabari Smith with the No. 3 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.

Smith fell to the third spot after reportedly being projected to go No. 1 to the Orlando Magic hours earlier. He’ll join a rebuilding Rockets team that added guard Jalen Green with the second overall pick in 2021.

After sitting outside the top five high school recruits entering the 2021-22 college basketball season, Smith flashed immense potential as a high-level scorer and defender at a long 6-foot-10. He shot a sparkling 42% on over five 3-point attempts per game at Auburn while also averaging over a block and a steal per contest.

As a result of his strong campaign, Smith took home the USBWA Freshman of the Year award, made first-team All-SEC, and was on the late-season ballot for the Wooden Award. He also led the Tigers to their highest seed in the NCAA Tournament in over 20 years.

The 19-year-old is a rare prospect that has both a high floor and a high ceiling. At his peak, Smith’s shooting ability and size could put him in the echelon of Kevin Durant or Brandon Ingram as an All-Star-level wing scorer. However, even if his offensive playmaking doesn’t reach that level, he can still play a valuable role as a starter who can defend multiple positions and knock down open shots.

Bio

Position: Forward
School: Auburn
College experience: Freshman
Height: 6-foot-10
Weight: 220 lbs
Wingspan: 7-foot-1
Max vertical: N/A

Strengths

  • Well-above average size and length for a wing player
  • Knockdown shooter from the 3-point line
  • Versatile defender who can guard positions 2-through-5 with ease
  • Tough shotmaker with defenders in his face due to a high release point
  • Fluid, coordinated athlete with the occasional explosive burst
  • One of the youngest players selected at the top of the draft

Weaknesses

  • Doesn’t always make great decisions with shot selection
  • Can struggle to generate plays for others off the dribble
  • Needs to finish better at the rim – shot 43.5% from 2-point range
  • Runs the risk of being a tweener as an oversized wing who lacks the strength of a big

The Oklahoma City Thunder selected Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren with the No. 2 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.

At first glance, the wiry 7-footer doesn’t fit the prototypical college prospect mold, which makes him one of the most intriguing big men to enter the NBA draft in a while.

After dominating recruitment rankings as a high schooler, the Minnesota native pledged his collegiate career to the Bulldogs. He virtually put up a double-double per game, averaging 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.7 blocks, and 1.9 assists. Holmgren also demonstrated a propensity to stretch the floor, albeit on low volume, shooting 39% on 3.3 attempts per contest.

The top-ranked national recruit had a dominant debut year. He was a consensus All-American and won several conference honors, including WCC Defensive Player of the Year, WCC Rookie of the Year, and a spot on the All-WCC team.

Holmgren is a fascinating presence on the court. Despite his incredibly lanky frame, the former Gonzaga standout is more than comfortable running the floor with the ball in his hands, opening up several compelling avenues for his offensive development while simultaneously continuing to grow as a talented rim-protector.

Bio

Position: Center
School: Gonzaga
College experience: Freshman
Height: 7-feet
Weight: 193 lbs
Wingspan: 7-foot-6
Max vertical: N/A

Strengths

  • Fantastic shot-blocking ability thanks to timing instincts and lengthy wingspan
  • Stretches his game to the 3-point line on occasion
  • Can run the floor moderately well with guard-like skill
  • Able to switch out to the perimeter and hold his own against smaller but quicker opponents
  • Possesses a great touch around the rim

Weaknesses

  • Legitimate questions as to whether he’s strong enough to battle with established NBA bigs
  • Averaged just 3.1 trips to the line, shooting a mediocre 71.7%
  • Can shy away from contact at times, especially when screening
  • Unproven creator in half-court settings, where he tends to work better as a finisher

With the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic have selected Duke standout Paolo Banchero.

“When you’re playing poker, you don’t put your cards on the table, right?” Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said regarding the surprise pick, according to team writer Dan Savage.

Banchero is the latest one-and-done prospect to come out of the Blue Devils’ program. The 6-foot-10 forward was the lead option of an explosive Duke offense, averaging 17.2 points, 7.8 boards, and 3.2 assists over 39 appearances last season. Banchero finished fourth in the ACC in free-throw attempts (188) and 10th in blocks (36).

His strong regular season earned him ACC Rookie of the Year honors and an All-ACC first-team nod. Banchero elevated his game in the NCAA Tournament, helping Duke earn another Final Four berth. The former five-star recruit posted 18.8 points on 50% shooting, including a sizzling 52.6% mark on nearly four triples per game.

Bio

Position: Forward
School: Duke
College experience: Freshman
Height: 6-foot-10
Weight: 250 lbs
Wingspan: 7-foot-1
Max vertical: N/A

Strengths

  • Mix of quickness and strength creates mismatches for opposing big men
  • Has assortment of back-to-the-basket moves
  • Finishes well through contact
  • Efficient mid-range scorer
  • Uses crafty footwork to create his own shot
  • Great passer for his size
  • Solid ball-handling skills allow him to initiate fast breaks or pick-and-roll

Weaknesses

  • Drives recklessly to rim at times
  • Defensive effort and focus fluctuate too often
  • Needs to improve off-hand finishing
  • Coughs up the rock frequently, registered fifth-most turnovers in ACC last season

The Detroit Pistons traded forward Jerami Grant to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for a 2025 first-round pick, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The draft selection originally belonged to the Milwaukee Bucks and is protected 1-4, per Wojnarowski.

Detroit is also receiving the 36th overall pick in this year’s draft, a 2025 second-round pick, and the most favorable 2026 second-rounder between Portland and the New Orleans Pelicans, while the Blazers acquire the Pistons’ 46th selection in Thursday’s draft, added Wojnarowski.

The reported trade gives Detroit $43 million in cap space.

Detroit acquired Grant from the Denver Nuggets in a sign-and-trade deal two years ago. The 28-year-old averaged 20.9 points, 4.4 boards, and 2.6 assists over 101 appearances with the Pistons. He finished second to Julius Randle in the 2020-21 Most Improved Player award voting.

Grant has one year remaining on his contract but can sign a four-year, $112-million extension with the Blazers six months after the trade is finalized, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

The Los Angeles Lakers are the “most significant threat” to land Kyrie Irving if he elects to leave the Brooklyn Nets this summer, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

Irving holds a $36.5-million player option for the 2022-23 campaign but can decline it to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The seven-time All-Star is reportedly undecided on his future with the Nets ahead of the June 29 player option deadline.

However, the Lakers lack the cap flexibility to offer Irving anything close to his player option salary for next season. The $6-million taxpayer exemption is likely the best deal Los Angeles can bring to the table, according to Wojnarowski.

A move to the Lakers would reunite Irving with LeBron James. The duo led the Cleveland Cavaliers to their lone title in 2016.

The Los Angeles Clippers and the New York Knicks have also been linked to Irving should the former No. 1 overall pick hit the open market.

Irving averaged 27.4 points, 5.8 assists, 4.4 boards, and 1.4 steals over 29 appearances last season.

During a break between Golden State’s Western Conference finals games against Dallas, then-Warriors top assistant Mike Brown jumped on a plane to San Diego to watch his new star De’Aaron Fox work out and take the Sacramento guard and his family to lunch.

Brown got right back on a plane afterward to rejoin Golden State for playoff preparations.

At last Tuesday, Brown was formally introduced as the Kings’ new coach, just one day after celebrating the Warriors’ fourth championship in eight years with a victory parade through San Francisco.

“I’ve been heavily involved,” Brown said of getting going with the Kings as the schedule permitted. “I’ve talked to every single player on multiple occasions.”

Sacramento hired the well-traveled Brown in May but he stayed with the Warriors through their postseason run that ended with the franchise’s fourth championship in eight years last Thursday night in the clinching Game 6 at Boston.

“First of all, I’d like to start out by thanking everyone in Warrior land,” Brown said.

The 52-year-old Brown will be tasked with ending the league’s longest playoff drought ever at 16 years. He takes over for previous Warriors top assistant Luke Walton, hired by the Kings away from the Los Angeles Lakers in 2019 before his firing last November. Alvin Gentry took over on an interim basis before the Kings finished 30-52.

Sacramento’s .366 winning percentage was its worst since the 2017-18 season.

Brown is determined to build a consistent winner in the state capital.

“One of the main reasons that I was brought here was to bring some leadership in a lot of different areas,” he said. “I’ve been with a lot of different teams in my 30 years. I’ve experienced something that I believe can get organizations over the top, not just in one year but year in and year out, and that’s having a winning culture. My job is to lead in that area. Every organization out there, in my opinion, has a soul. The stronger that soul is the better that organization will be.”

Brown previously had two stints as head coach in Cleveland, where he guided the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2007, and also coached the Los Angeles Lakers.

Since moving to Sacramento in 1985, the Kings have had only one stretch of success, making the playoffs in all eight seasons under coach Rick Adelman from 1999-2006. Adelman was fired in 2006 and remains the only coach in the Sacramento era to post a winning record in any season.

“We conducted in the front office here a very robust, thorough, comprehensive process,” Kings general manager Monte McNair said. “We wanted to ensure that we found the right coach. We did a lot of research and it came down to three key things for us: experience, successful head coaching experience, relationships, the ability to build relationships across the organization, and leadership — leadership as a head coach and leadership for everything that we’re trying to do here.”

On several occasions, Brown stepped in for Warriors coach Steve Kerr, most recently when Kerr dealt with COVID-19 and missed three playoff games.

Now, it’s time for a new chapter that he hopes will produce a regular contender much like where he has been.

And when someone congratulated Brown on the Warriors’ title, Brown showed off his signature warm smile and cracked: “Can you say that again?”

“I’ve got four,” he added, holding up four fingers and chuckling.

Houston Rockets guard John Wall exercised his $47.4-million player option for the 2022-23 season, his agent informed the club, sources told The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

Wall and the Rockets are expected to work through a resolution in the near future, adds Charania.

Houston acquired the five-time All-Star and a 2023 lottery-protected first-round pick from the Washington Wizards two years ago in exchange for Russell Westbrook.

Wall has made only 40 appearances with the Rockets, averaging 20.6 points, 6.9 assists, and 1.1 steals. He sat out the entire 2021-22 campaign as the club worked with him on finding a new team, but Houston couldn’t strike a deal with another squad.

Wall reportedly informed the Rockets last November that he wanted to rejoin the active roster as a starter, but he remained on the sidelines as the franchise planned to have him come off the bench.

Gordon Hayward is among the names the Charlotte Hornets are shopping with one of their two first-round picks in this year’s draft, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reports.

The one-time All-Star is set to make a team-high $30.1 million next season, and the Hornets offloading the remaining two years on his contract would clear cap space to re-sign Miles Bridges, adds Windhorst.

Charlotte acquired Hayward two years ago in a sign-and-trade deal with the Boston Celtics. The Butler product has averaged 17.6 points, 5.2 boards, 3.8 assists, and 1.1 steals while shooting 40.2% from beyond the arc during his Hornets tenure. However, various injuries have limited him to just 93 appearances for the club.

Meanwhile, Bridges is coming off a breakout 2021-22 campaign. He registered career bests in points (20.2 per game), rebounds (7.0), and assists (3.8) en route to a seventh-place finish in last season’s Most Improved Player award voting.

Charlotte owns the 13th and 15th selections in Thursday’s draft.