Archive for June 28th, 2018

Should the Hornets trade Kemba Walker?

The Hornets are going nowhere fast. They get big production from Kemba Walker, but Dwight Howard is on his way out, and the rest of the squad is mostly supporting cast material. (A healthy Nic Batum can be excellent. But anyway:) Should the Hornets trade Walker? Here’s the Charlotte Observer with some opinion:

Next season will be the last on Kemba’s contract. He will make $12 million, which is to the NBA what $8 an hour is to the rest of North Carolina. He is a blue-light special bargain. He never will be again.

If the Hornets don’t trade him, they could lose him after next season. He can walk, and his employer gets nothing.

If the Hornets retain Kemba, he presumably will insist on a five-year contract. No other team can sign him to more than four. And he will want huge money, Nic Batum money, and he has earned it. The Hornets signed Batum to a five-year $120 million contract.

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Derek Pierce named GM of Erie BayHawks

The Atlanta Hawks today promoted Derek Pierce to General Manager of the Erie BayHawks (Atlanta’s G League affiliate). This will be in addition to Pierce’s current role within the Hawks basketball operations team.

Hawks General Manager and Head of Basketball Operations Travis Schlenk had to this to say about the move: “We are excited to have Derek take over as General Manager of the BayHawks. He has earned this position, working his way up throughout his time in the league and is well-respected by his peers for his work ethic and eye for talent… Derek understands how much we value the G League and will do a great job leading basketball operations for Erie.”

The 45-year-old Pierce joined Atlanta at the start of the 2017-18 season as the Hawks’ Pro Player Personnel Scout.

Before joining the Hawks organization, Pierce spent eight seasons with the Timberwolves as an advance, college and NBA personnel scout.

And before his time with the Timberwolves, Pierce for three seasons was an advance scout for the Wizards, and for two seasons was an advance scout for the Golden State Warriors. He was also the Pacers’ video coordinator for five seasons.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity given to me by the Atlanta and Erie families. I can’t wait to get to work and continue to build off last year’s success,” Pierce said. “The G League is an invaluable resource and we’ll continue to utilize it extensively like we have in recent years. Right now, my number one goal is to work with Coach Pierce to find a head coach who shares the same vision and passion for developing players and establishing a culture of hard-working and high character players that make both the fans of Atlanta and Erie proud.”

It’s about to be on. Free agent mania. Great players needing new homes, and perhaps going in that route, or sticking with their current squad. Endless speculation. As for Paul George, here’s the Philadelphia Inquirer reporting that the Sixers wouldn’t mind adding him alongside Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and friends:

ESPN is reporting that Paul George told the Oklahoma City Thunder he will opt out his $20.7 million salary for the 2018-19 season. The small forward has until 11:59 p.m. Friday to formerly decline the final year of his contract.

The Sixers are interested in pursuing the five-time NBA all-star to play alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, according to sources.

His opting out doesn’t mean that George ruled out playing for the Thunder. He’s considering a return to Oklahoma City as a free agent, according to reports. He would be eligible to make more money under that scenario.

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Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta announced yesterday that the team has picked up the fourth-year option on head coach Mike D’Antoni’s contract, taking him through the 2019-20 season. In two seasons with D’Antoni at the helm, the Rockets have recorded the second-highest winning percentage in the NBA (.732; 120-44).

“The way Mike conducts himself behind the scenes along with the results he brings, it did not take long for me to see that he is the perfect fit for our organization,” said Fertitta. “We are thrilled to have Coach D’Antoni continue to push the Rockets towards our goal of winning a championship.”

This past season, D’Antoni led the Rockets to a franchise single season record 65 wins. It marked the first time Houston posted the best record in the NBA. The Rockets also won a franchise record 31 road games, tying for the sixth-highest single season total in league history.

Houston also became the sixth team in NBA history to record three winning streaks of at least 10 games in a single season, including 17 in a row from Jan. 28 through March 7 which was the second-longest streak in franchise history.

Following his first season with the Rockets in 2016-17, D’Antoni was named NBA Coach of the Year after guiding Houston to a 55-27 mark. He became the eighth coach in league history to win multiple Coach of the Year awards, and joins Gregg Popovich as the only ones who are active.

The Rockets have set the NBA single season record for 3-pointers made in each of the past two seasons. Prior to D’Antoni’s first full season as head coach of Phoenix in 2004-05, only three teams had more than 700 3FGM in a single season. At the time, D’Antoni’s Suns posted the league’s three-highest single season totals for 3-pointers made from 2004-05 through 2006-07. This past season, 27 of the 30 teams hit at least 700 3-pointers.

The Thunder weren’t an impressive team last season. Carmelo Anthony will stick around, because other teams wouldn’t offer the type of money he’ll make from OKC in 2018-19. But Paul George has options. And remember, just because George will reportedly opt out of his Thunder deal doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll leave the team. He could re-sign, for a huge new contract. Or take his talent elsewhere. Here’s ESPN.com reporting:

Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George has informed franchise officials that he will not be opting in for the final year of his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent, league sources told ESPN.

George has an 11:59 p.m. ET Friday deadline to formally decline to opt in.

George, who will decline a $20.7 million salary for the 2018-19 season, remains seriously interested in returning to the Thunder in free agency, league sources said. The Los Angeles Lakers will receive serious consideration too, sources said.

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