NBA Notebook: Lakers, Knicks, John Collins, Bojan Bogdanovic, free agency stock watch

NBA Notebook: Lakers, Knicks, John Collins, Bojan Bogdanovic, free agency stock watch


NBA Notebook: Lakers, Knicks, John Collins, Bojan Bogdanovic, free agency stock watch

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With the NBA’s G League Showcase nearing and roughly a third of the regular season behind us, trade talks are picking up across the league.

This week’s NBA notebook includes the latest intel from our own Michael Scotto, the latest trade rumors commentary from our capologist Yossi Gozlan, a free agency stock watch from our Frank Urbina, and an international draft prospect to watch, according to Alberto De Roa.

The Bojan Bogdanovic situation

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After agreeing to a two-year, $39 million extension with Detroit, Pistons forward Bojan Bogdanovic is playing the best basketball of his career, averaging career-highs in points (21.0), field goal percentage (.508) and three-point percentage (.437). Bogdanovic’s veteran leadership and scoring have made him a favorite of Pistons head coach Dwane Casey.

Bogdanovic’s strong play has led numerous playoff-caliber teams around the league to express interest in trading for him, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, and Atlanta Hawks, among several others, league sources told HoopsHype. Thus far, Detroit has been unwilling to engage in trade talks for the 33-year-old forward. Rival executives, however, are hopeful that stance changes closer to the deadline if Detroit continues to remain in the cellar of the East, with Cade Cunningham expected to miss the rest of the season.

– Michael Scotto

New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers trade talks

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The New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers have discussed trade concepts involving Cam Reddish and Evan Fournier, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

Before Reddish’s recent benching in New York, the Knicks originally engaged the Lakers to see if they’d have interest in swapping Evan Fournier for Patrick Beverley and Kendrick Nunn, league sources told HoopsHype. Beverley and Nunn will both become unrestricted free agents after this season.

Since then, the Knicks have reportedly looked to package Cam Reddish with Fournier in various trade talks, per The Athletic’s Fred Katz.

It’s worth noting the Lakers have checked in several times on the availability of Reddish over the past year, league sources told HoopsHype. However, it’s unlikely the inclusion of Reddish alone would move the needle for the Lakers to take on Fournier’s contract, which includes $18.8 million on the books for next season.

As previously reported on HoopsHype, the Knicks are reluctant to attach a first-round pick with Fournier in trade talks. Instead, New York can wait until the offseason when Fournier’s contract essentially becomes an expiring contract and a more attractive trade chip since he has a team option for the 2024-25 season.

– Michael Scotto

Kings a feel-good story for once

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The Sacramento Kings are making an early push toward the playoffs for the first time since the 2005-06 season.

“We want to be the team to end the drought,” Kings guard Kevin Huerter told HoopsHype. “The organization has lost a lot in the last however many years, but individually and us collectively as a team, we weren’t those Kings. We’re a completely different team. We may wear the same jersey, but those teams aren’t us. That’s been our mindset.”

According to Kings guard Malik Monk, the team talked about the playoff drought one time before the season because everyone knew it was “in the air,” as he explained.

“I wanted to change the culture,” Monk, who signed a two-year, $19.4 million contract with Sacramento, told HoopsHype. “I wanted to come in here and change everything about Sacramento and how everyone thought about it. I think we’re doing that now. We’ve just got to continue to win.”

Coach Mike Brown, who met with Kings owner Vivek Ranadive for a four-hour dinner at his house before being hired, has brought accountability, according to several Kings players who spoke with HoopsHype.

Brown praised the leadership and steadiness Matthew Dellavedova and Harrison Barnes have brought to this year’s team. Barnes, meanwhile, gave credit to Sacramento’s two stars for carrying the load so far this season.

“I think De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis are playing at an All-Star level,” Barnes told HoopsHype. “Both those guys have been consistent every single night going up against the coverages and assignments they have, and both have stepped up in big moments. I don’t think we’re in the playoff hunt without those two playing at that level.”

After years of trade rumors in Sacramento and entering the final year of his contract, Barnes is happy to be playing on a winning team again with his future lurking in the background.

“This group has a chance to do something special in Sacramento that hasn’t been done in almost two decades,” Barnes told HoopsHype. “I think that’s where my focus is. In terms of a contract, 11 years in now, I’m not too concerned about it. I think it’s all going to work out the way it’s supposed to.”

– Michael Scotto

Knicks trade opportunities

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Tom Thibodeau finally made changes to the rotation that many felt were warranted during training camp. The Knicks elevated Quentin Grimes to the starting lineup and are also primarily going with Immanuel Quickley and Miles McBride in their backcourt off the bench. The youth movement has taken Evan Fournier and Derrick Rose out of the rotation, and the Knicks have gone on a four-game winning streak since making these adjustments.

These rotation changes bring up interesting trade opportunities for the Knicks who want to be competitive this season. Rose’s $14.5 million salary makes him large trade fodder and is effectively an expiring contract with a $15.6 million team option for the 2023-24 season. Teams like the Mavericks and Lakers could use Rose’s ballhandling and playmaking.

Fournier’s $18.9 million owed to him for the 2023-24 season makes him harder to move. He wasn’t helping them on the defensive end and has seen a sharp decline in his shooting. They reportedly do not want to trade any of their surplus of future first-round picks to get off him, but are willing to attach Cam Reddish. Several teams are interested in Reddish but teams may see him more as a flier than an incentive since he too is out of the Knicks’ rotation.

– Yossi Gozlan

Lakers: Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn

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The Lakers are reportedly more inclined toward making a smaller trade involving Patrick Beverley and Kendrick Nunn for better fitting role players. Beverley has struggled to get his shot going and Nunn is out of the rotation when the team is mostly healthy. The Lakers can take back up to $22.9 million in salary in exchange for Beverley and Nunn together.

While they continue to weigh bigger deal involving Russell Westbrook, a Beverley and Nunn trade probably requires less draft equity to acquire an upgrade. According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Knicks and Lakers have discussed frameworks on a trade involving Fournier and Reddish. Beverley, Nunn, and one minimum salaried player matches for Fournier and Reddish, but the Knicks may have to include draft picks to entice the Lakers to take on Fournier’s $18.9 million for next season.

The Lakers are projected to have $30 million in cap space in the 2023 offseason but that would get eliminated if they take on Fournier. Also, Reddish is set to become a restricted free agent this offseason. If he fits in well and projects to be a part of the Lakers future going forward his next contract too would eat into their books. With so little star power on the market this offseason, such a trade could make sense provided that they get sufficient draft compensation.

– Yossi Gozlan

John Collins’ future

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

John Collins has been on the trade block since last offseason and remains on it after seeing his role and usage significantly decline in Atlanta this season. He has three years remaining on his contract where he’s set to earn $25.3 million in 2023-24, $26.6 million in 2024-25, and a player option for $26.6 million in 2025-26. He’s having his worst shooting season of his career so the Hawks may have a hard time getting positive value for him. Perhaps a change of scenery and the right fit could help him get back on track.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Jazz, Wizards, Nets, and Mavericks have all expressed interest in Collins. With most of the majority of the Hawks’ shots going to Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, De’Andre Hunter, and Bogdan Bogdanovic, the Hawks may be seeking a cheaper option at the four. This makes the Jazz and Wizards with Lauri Markkanen and Kyle Kuzma, respectively, interesting destinations. It’s unclear whether either team is interested in trading their respective forwards, especially for Collins.

– Yossi Gozlan

Free agent stock watch: Up

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Kristaps Porzingis

Putting up big numbers – 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks nightly – while remaining mostly healthy, Porzingis is looking at a big payday this offseason if he chooses to pursue one, as he’s got a player option on the final year of his deal, one worth $36 million.

Right now, we have him ranked as the No. 6 free agent of the 2023 class, but that could change if he’s able to maintain this excellent two-way form. Porzingis has been even better lately, too, putting up 27.9 points on 53 percent shooting over his last eight games.

nba trade rumors rankings myles turner russell westbrook kyrie irving

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Myles Turner

All it took was years and years of constant trade rumors – they’re still out there, by the way – for Turner to play some of the best basketball of his career, but as they say, better late than never.

Turner looks super consistent, putting up a career-high 17.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per contest while shooting the ball at a likewise career-best rate, hitting 42.4 percent of his looks beyond the arc.

Turner has been even hotter lately, shooting 57.1 percent from beyond the arc over his last four games while remaining an elite shot blocker, as the former Texas standout swatted away four shots against Miami on Monday night while securing 13 rebounds.

Heading into next summer as an unrestricted free agent, Turner should catch the interest of multiple teams, as his skill set – that of a shot-blocking floor-spacer playing with consistency – will appeal to many franchises.

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Jerami Grant

Scoring, rebounding and providing defensive versatility, Grant has been an excellent addition for the Blazers, one that has them right in the thick of the heated playoff race in the Western Conference.

That’s great news for a player set to hit unrestricted free agency, as Grant has been even better of late, putting up 28.0 points over his last nine contests, including 24 on Monday night against Rudy Gobert and the Timberwolves.

Grant’s market will be hot this offseason, with the versatile forward heading into his age-29 season and currently putting up the best BPM of his career to go with his second-best WS/48.

– Frank Urbina

Free agent stock: Down

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Patrick Beverley

Logically, Beverley should have been a great fit on this Lakers team, an off-ball guard who does damage as a spot-up threat without taking too many opportunities away from the team’s two superstars, all while acting like a pest defensively. That has not been the case thus far, however, as Beverley has performed at the level hardly becoming of a rotation player, let alone of a starter.

Beverley’s 4.5 points per game and 23.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc are brutal enough but when you factor in his BPM (-3.4, 181st league-wide) and VORP (-0.2, in the mid-400s), you are looking at a player who is killing his value heading into unrestricted free agency prior to his age-35 season.

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Fred VanVleet

The Raptors haven’t far exceeded preseason expectations, and part of the reason for that has been the play of VanVleet, who hasn’t looked like the All-Star of seasons past.

Now, that could easily change, of course, but there’s no question VanVleet has struggled on the campaign, averaging 17.0 points on 36.0 percent shooting from the floor, 32.6 percent from three. VanVleet hasn’t been the impactful difference-maker of years past, as Toronto is merely 1.3 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor this season, a lowly mark for a player of VanVleet’s abilities.

VanVleet clearly isn’t fully healthy and is trying to play through pain because in his last nine games after sitting out three of five contests due to injury, he’s averaging 15.1 points and shooting 32.8 percent from the field.

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D’Angelo Russell

His raw numbers have improved of late but overall on the campaign, Russell has struggled to find his role on a team with two seven-foot behemoths clogging the paint and a fellow ball-dominant lead guard playing alongside him.

Just last night, Russell had 23 points in a 21-point defeat to Portland, requiring 19 shot attempts to reach that total while boasting a plus/minus of -13. Even more concerning is that for the season, Minnesota has been nearly 10 points worse with Russell on the floor.

Whatever teams do go after Russell in free agency will surely be in need of a bucket-getting lead guard and have a table-setting guard already in place, as Russell has shown he doesn’t acclimate well to sharing with another high-usage player in the same backcourt.

– Frank Urbina

Yuki Kawamura: The most exciting draft prospect you've never heard of

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Although he’s not included in our 130-player deep Aggregate Mock Draft, 5-foot-8 Japanese point guard Yuki Kawamura is becoming one of the most exciting young players to watch right now.

Just to be clear, we’re not saying he’s putting a challenge for the top spot against French phenom Victor Wembanyama, who’s having arguably the most astounding season by any international teenager not named Luka Doncic this century. But Kawamura is taking the Japanese League by storm in his first full season as a starter for the Yokohama B-Corsairs. According to Global Rating, he’s easily the best national player in the B.League, the top Japanese competition. The only players ahead of him are seasoned imports, with NBA experience in some cases.

In a competition where American big men tend to dominate, Kawamura‘s raw numbers are equally impressive: 17.7 points on 44.7 percent shooting, and a league-best 9.7 assists per game. He’s also shooting 61.3 percent in the restricted zone, which speaks volumes about his skillset attacking the rim.

His superstar moment arrived a couple of weekends ago, scoring 32 and 34 points in back-to-back games against Utsonomiya Brex. Coincidentally, that’s the team where Yuta Tabuse, another undersized playmaker who made the NBA almost two decades go, stays active in a Udonis Haslem-type role. Kawamura capped it up with a one-legged winning three-point shot at the buzzer in the second game that went somewhat viral. (The Japanese B.League, as of now, doesn’t have an account in English to promote the competition outside of its local fan base).

Born in 2001, Kawamura’s explosion arrives right when he’s about to be automatically eligible for the next draft. That plays against him. In the last five NBA drafts, only two international players in the same situation were selected: Georgios Kalaitzakis and Vanja Marinkovic, and you’ll be excused if you can’t remember any of them. And the fact that other undersized but still taller guards like Facundo Campazzo (a legit FIBA star) or post-prime Isaiah Thomas are out of the league is not a good sign either for him.

But his charisma on the court, which also made him the most voted player ever for the B.League All-Star Game, and the undeniable appeal of the Japanese market could make him earn some looks from the NBA. He may hear his name as a late second-round pick, or he may become an undrafted player earning a two-way spot in the Summer League, where he can easily be a Vegas sensation. In short, it’s time to know Yuki Kawamura.

– Alberto De Roa

You can follow Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto), Yossi Gozlan (@YossiGozlan), Frank Urbina (@FrankUrbina_), and Alberto De Roa (@TikotDeRoa) on Twitter. 

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