Ryan Knaus

Offseason Beat

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NBA News Roundup

Friday, August 11, 2017

There has been a steady trickle of NBA news since Summer League, and today's column sums up the most fantasy-relevant updates. Training camp and the preseason aren't far away, and fantasy drafts will happen sooner than usual -- the league wants to limit back-to-back sets, so opening night will be Oct. 17 this year.


This catch-all column is divided into four sections -- Free Agency, Trade Talk, Injury Updates, and News Tidbits. If you've missed anything that's happened since the end of the regular season, check out the previous news updates from mid-May, mid-June, and mid-July.


Editor’s Note: Win a FREE trip to the World Series plus cash prizes!



Free Agency


Restricted FA Nerlens Noel continues to negotiate with the Mavericks. If the two sides can't agree on a long-term deal, Noel could enter the season on a $4.2 million qualifying offer, setting him up for free agency in 2018. For what it's worth, Dirk Nowitzki voiced his support of retaining Noel. "He’s so young and so athletic. I’d love to keep him," Nowitzki said. "I’m sure that is what the Mavs are thinking. We obviously traded for him last year with the hope he will stay with this franchise for a long time."


Luke Babbitt inked a one-year deal with the Hawks for the veteran's minimum of $1.9 million. Babbitt has no illusions about his role in Miami, saying, "I’m here to shoot and provide spacing and compete defensively." As such, he's little more than a 3-point specialist in deeper fantasy leagues.


Ian Clark signed a one-year, $1.6 million deal with the Pelicans. New Orleans should start the season with a Rajon Rondo/Jrue Holiday backcourt, with Clark mopping up minutes as a lead guard with the second unit.


Ty Lawson signed a $2.4 million deal with a team in China, with incentives that could push his salary even higher. He was unlikely to make more than the veteran's minimum in the NBA, as his stock has plummeted in recent seasons.


Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas and MarShon Brooks all agreed to deals in China. Jones, who is 25 years old, views his stint in China as the "last opportunity to prove to my family, my city and myself that I deserve where I dream to be." Even if they land with an NBA team after the CBA season ends, it's very hard to envision them as fantasy assets.


Kevin Seraphin signed a two-year deal with Barcelona in Spain.


The Knicks signed Ramon Sessions (one year, $2.3 million) and Michael Beasley (one year, likely at the minimum).



Trade Talk


The Knicks and Rockets have reportedly resumed trade talks involving Carmelo Anthony, but they're still trying to find a third team to facilitate the deal. The sticking point is Ryan Anderson, who is owed a fully guaranteed $60 million over the next three seasons. The Knicks don't want to take on his deal, and there aren't many teams eager to pay $20 million annually to a 29-year-old perimeter specialist who struggles defensively. The Blazers are still on the periphery of this situation, but it's unclear what they could offer that would satisfy the Knicks' asking price while simultaneously convincing Carmelo to waive his no-trade clause.


The Suns are reportedly pursuing Kyrie Irving, following his much-publicized trade request. According to recent reports, they're willing to offer Eric Bledsoe, Dragan Bender and their draft pick from Miami.


Jahlil Okafor acknowledged that he might get traded this season, saying, "I hear trade rumors and stuff like that, realizing that having a new scenario, [I] think it might be better than what it is now." Nerlens Noel's departure helped a bit, but Okafor is still buried in a frontcourt that includes Joel Embiid and Richaun Holmes. From a fantasy perspective, Okafor could only benefit from a trade, but so far there are no clear suitors.



Injury Updates


Patrick Patterson had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Thursday, with an estimated recovery time of 4-6 weeks. Patterson was a substantial addition for the Thunder this offseason, inking a three-year, $16.4 million deal to provide perimeter shooting and rebounding at OKC's relatively weak PF spot. It sounds like he'll be questionable for training camp, but he should be ready to go for opening night.


Joel Embiid (left knee surgery) has been cleared for non-contact drills and he expects to be ready for training camp. The bad news is that Philly will be extra cautious with their prized big man, and coach Brett Brown said it would be "very ambitious" for Embiid to avoid a minute-limit this season. He could easily be rested during back-to-back sets, as well, which dents his otherwise stellar fantasy upside.


Justise Winslow (torn rotator cuff) has been cleared for full-contact activity and said he'll be ready for training camp. "I’ve fallen, I’ve hit the ground and I’ve gotten up with little to no pain [in the shoulder]," Winslow said. Pat Riley said that Winslow will have to fight for the starting SF job, but it would be surprising if he doesn't emerge as the clear-cut favorite during training camp.


Ben McLemore will miss approximately three months after surgery to repair a non-displaced fracture in his right foot. He's likely to miss the start of the regular season, in other words, which gives a temporary boost to guys like Tyreke Evans, Wayne Selden, Troy Daniels and James Ennis.


Alex Abrines (right knee) had PRP therapy in May, addressing an issue that nagged him throughout the 2016-17 season. "I think it's going to get better, and we don't have repeat it for the next three years at least," Abrines said.


Tony Parker (quad surgery) said this week that he aims to return in 4-5 months, consistent with his original timetable. A return in January is feasible, but even after he returns the Spurs will be extra cautious with their 35-year-old guard. Dejounte Murray and Patty Mills will battle for supremacy in the opening months of the season, and both guys are worth a look as flier picks in standard leagues.


Kemba Walker (left knee) played 12 minutes during the 2017 Africa exhibition. He was ruled out in late July but the prognosis quickly changed, and his participation proves that his minor arthroscopic procedure is behind him. There's no reason to think he'll be limited this preseason.


Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg hopes that Zach LaVine (torn left ACL) can return "shortly after the start of the season." A coach's optimism doesn't carry much weight, of course, and the rebuilding Bulls have zero incentive to rush LaVine's return. Even when he does return, there's a good chance he'll have precautionary medical limitations.


Ian Mahinmi reportedly had minor left knee surgery soon after the 2016-17 season. Wizards coach Scott Brooks said that Mahinmi is down to 238 pounds and is "in the best shape he's ever been," but it's hard to be optimistic given his lengthy injury history. Last year alone he tore the meniscus in his left knee, had PRP therapy on both knees to address tendinitis, and strained his left calf.


Isaiah Thomas (right hip) opted not to have surgery this summer and he expects to be ready for the start of training camp. Fantasy owners will be keeping a close eye on his activity during camp and the preseason, as his season-ending injury wasn't negligible -- he aggravated "a right femoral-acetabular impingement" while suffering a labral tear. "I should be ready by camp, but I’m getting back in the gym shooting and being able to work out in the weight room and get my cardio back," Thomas said. "I’ve been [resting] for two and a half months since the season ended."


Bucks GM Jon Horst said for the team and Jabari Parker (torn ACL), "This is not about this year." Horst gushed about Parker's progress in his rehab, saying he looks "tremendous," but it's obvious that they're going to be very cautious with him after two ACL surgeries in three years. "This is about a 22-year-old kid who is one of the best young talents in the league, and making sure he comes back physically in the right way," Horst said.


Danilo Gallinari (fractured right thumb) is expected back on the court in 4-6 weeks, longer than his initial 3-4 week timetable. Gallo injured his thumb after punching an opposing player during EuroBasket action, but it sounds like he'll be ready for training camp.


Gerald Henderson could miss the entire 2017-18 season after having left hip surgery. He released a statement in early August, saying, "I have been playing through severe pain that has made it difficult to play to the best of my ability. Now the pain has started to impact my everyday life off the court."


Timothe Luwawu sat out EuroBasket due to patellar tendinitis, but it's not likely to limit him during training camp.



News Tidbits


Zach Randolph was reportedly arrested on Wednesday on felony charges for marijuana possession with the "intent to sell." His arrest was part of a wild scene during which the L.A. police impounded two cars, recovered two guns and seized narcotics, while having five of their vehicles damaged. According to Randolph's attorney, "The charges are false and misleading," and his legal team is "looking at all options to resolve this matter." If the charges stick, which obviously isn't certain, it's likely that the NBA will hit Z-Bo with a suspension in addition to a hefty fine.


Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will start at PF to begin training camp, according to Nets coach Kenny Atkinson. Brooklyn has a ton of interchangeable pieces, and RHJ earning heavy minutes at PF could be critical for his fantasy value. He'll face a stiff challenge from DeMarre Carroll, so this is a position-battle to monitor throughout the preseason.


Willie Reed was arrested on charges of domestic violence but his wife has since released a statement that she will not press charges.


Stanley Johnson's role could increase significantly this season, according to Stan Van Gundy. "We have a chance to become an elite defensive team and Stanley’s a huge part of that," Van Gundy said. "Whether he’s starting or coming off the bench, his primary role will be to guard the best forward or a big two guard every night."


Stan Van Gundy also reiterated that Boban Marjanovic will have a longer leash this season. "I don’t want to be in situations where I’m making an immediate response to a team going small and I just reflexively take [Marjanovic] out of the game," Van Gundy said. "That no matter what we’re doing defensively, that we give him a chance." Boban has some impressive per-minute stats (23.5 points, 16.0 boards and 1.5 blocks per 36 minutes last season), but even with SVG's vote of confidence it's hard to see him holding value in 12-team leagues.


The Mavericks "aren't expecting much" from veteran PF Josh McRoberts this season. Shocking.


Lakers president Magic Johnson expects Jordan Clarkson to play a "major role" this season. "We ... put some weapons around [Clarkson] that would even make his game better," Johnson said. "I have challenged him because I want him to be Sixth Man of the Year." He'll be coming off the bench behind Lonzo Ball and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but it sounds like Clarkson will be busy leading the Lakers' second unit.


Malik Monk said the Hornets want him to play both SG and PG this season. "I think they want me to do both," he said. "I think I can do it pretty good." Monk projects as a sixth-man off Charlotte's bench, but he's a risky target in standard re-draft leagues.


DeMarcus Cousins lost weight this summer, saying that it's "probably the best [he has] felt [in his] whole career." Anthony Davis said that he expects the Pelicans to make a run in the playoffs and their frontcourt tandem will be fascinating to watch -- for fantasy purposes, there's reason to believe AD and DMC can co-exist as elite options.


Wizards coach Scott Brooks "really, really" likes Kelly Oubre and believes that he can be a "difference maker," according to owner Ted Leonsis.


Glenn Robinson III is working on his ball-handling and playmaking.


Jaylen Brown is working on his ball-handling and scoring, saying that he doesn't want to "just be a catch-and-shoot guy." He put on a show while scoring a team-high 15 points for Team World during the Africa game in early August, and we've yet to glimpse the 20-year-old's ceiling.


Enes Kanter is working on his defense and 3-point shooting this summer. There's no reason to think he'll help fantasy owners in either of those areas next season.


Tyler Johnson is working on his off-ball skills, specifically "a lot of catch-and-shoot, a lot of pick-and-roll jumpers."


That concludes this edition of the offseason news roundup! There may be one or two more before fantasy drafts begin, so stay tuned to the Offseason Beat -- you can check for new columns and look back through the archives right here. Enjoy.

Despite residing in Portland, Maine, Ryan Knaus remains a heartbroken Sonics fan who longs for the days of Shawn Kemp and Xavier McDaniel. He has written for Rotoworld.com since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter.
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