September 12, 2018, 11:55 am
Leading up to the Portland Trail Blazers’ season-opener against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers at Moda Center on October 18, HoopBall is profiling the team’s 15 players with guaranteed contracts, in reverse order of price.
Player: Gary Trent, Jr.
2018-19 salary: $838,464 (via spotrac)
Position: off-ball guard
Age, experience: 19, rookie
Measureables: 6-foot-6, 204 pounds (6-foot-8 and 3/4 inch wingspan)
Strengths: shooting, strength, ball security
Weaknesses: finishing ability, lateral quickness, first step, positional versatility, youth
Swing factor: 3-point shooting
Likely role: deep reserve/G-League
The Trail Blazers paid a pretty price for Trent, sending out second-round picks in each of the next two drafts to the Sacramento Kings for the rights to the No. 37 overall pick. A teenager who broke Duke’s single-season record for triples during his one season in Durham, he has the size and skill-set teams covet from off-ball guards in the modern NBA – at least at first glance.
Portland lists Trent at 6-foot-6, and his 33 1/2 inch standing vertical leap ranked third at the pre-draft combine. He bench pressed 185 pounds 12 times, too, a solid number for a perimeter player just one year removed from high school. Unfortunately, those measurements paint a far rosier portrait of the physical tools he actually brings to the NBA game. He struggled immensely as a finisher at Summer League, beset by a relative lack of length and his need for space to explode the way his impressive jumping metrics indicate What’s likely to set Trent back more from an athletic perspective, though, is his lateral quickness. He fared better defensively in Las Vegas than most anticipated given his performance on that end of the floor at Duke, but nonetheless showed little to suggest he has the defensive chops to fit the ever-coveted 3-and-D archetype.
Players of that caliber are rarely found outside the top half of the first round anyway; the Blazers probably view Trent’s realistic ceiling as a valuable bench player rather than a solid starter. He won’t be either unless he lives up to his reputation as a marksman, something he failed to do over the summer. Trent, after shooting 40.2 percent on 6.5 threes per game in college, connected on just 9-of-his 40 attempts in Las Vegas. It’s not like Portland wasn’t producing good looks, either; both Jake Layman and John Jenkins made comfortably over half their tries from deep.
The good news: Trent’s textbook release was unchanged by the extra distance from the college line to the NBA’s, and his balance both from both a stationary position or otherwise was impressive. He made all 15 of his free throws, too. More notable considering that type of refinement was expected, though, was Trent’s poise and comfort on the floor no doubt instilled by an entire life spent around the game at its highest level. Assuming the jumper comes, he looked the part of a future rotation player, basically, no small feat for a second-rounder who doesn’t turn 20 in January.
On a losing team with a priority of player development, Trent could perhaps be earmarked for a handful of on a nightly basis. But that’s not the Blazers. Big changes could come for Portland if it doesn’t earn a playoff berth in what’s maybe the strongest conference the league has seen this decade.Terry Stotts just doesn’t have the luxury of patience for a player like Trent, and Neil Olshey, who talked in July about the rookie potentially getting some burn this season, signed Seth Curry and Nik Stauskas to address his team’s dearth of shooting behind Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. The performances of Layman and Wade Baldwin, both older incumbents, theoretically push Trent further down Stotts’ list of options on the perimeter, too.
Does that mean there’s not a possible path for Trent to the rotation? Not necessarily. If he shoots lights out from three in training camp and Curry is still a step slow after a full season away from the game or, just as likely, Stauskas proves unplayable defensively, Stotts could find himself playing a rookie not just in front of Portland’s first-round pick, but also as his second or third perimeter player off the bench. More likely is that Trent joins Anfernee Simons at the end of the Blazers’ bench when they aren’t getting reps down in the G-League, with hopes of developing into real factors for Portland this time next year.
September 21, 2018, 10:29 pmGorgui Dieng - C - Minnesota Timberwolves
ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported that league sources indicate that the Timberwolves prefer to package Jimmy Butler with Gorgui Dieng and the $48 million he’s owed over the next three years.
Dieng was routinely pulling in top-60 value in 9-cat before Taj Gibson vame to town so a trade to a better situation might do him some good. We’re sure there will be a lot more updates on the Jimmy Butler situation so stay tuned.
September 21, 2018, 9:12 pmTyler Ulis - G - Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors have signed Tyler Ulis to an Exhibit 10 deal according to Anthony Slater at The Althletic.
ESPN’s Marc J. Spears also reported that Ulis chose the Warriors over the Rockets and the Kings. Ulis will get to join the team for training camp and the Exhibit 10 deal offers a little more protection from the Warriors’ end, but it’s hard to see how Ulis will fit in their plans. If he sticks, he won’t have any fantasy value barring an injury, and if he ends up getting waived we’ll have to see if he signs with the Dubbs’ G-League squad or pursues other opportunities.
Source: Anthony Slater on Twitter
September 21, 2018, 8:39 pmEmeka Okafor - C - Philadelphia Sixers
The Philadelphia Sixers have signed Emeka Okafor to a training camp deal one day before the start of camp.
Even if the ancient Okafor manages to stick on the roster, he shouldn’t be anything more than a veteran presence.
September 21, 2018, 7:38 pmBogdan Bogdanovic - G - Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings have announced that Bogdan Bogdanovic will have an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee on Monday.
There was no time-table given but these usually have a recovery of 4-to-6 weeks. There should be an update after the surgery on Monday but it looks like Bogi will miss the beginning of the season. As we previously reported, this is the same left knee that he had surgery on earlier this summer to repair a slight medial meniscus tear. Two surgeries in the span of a few months doesn't sound good and this'll be a big red flag come draft time. It's good news for Buddy Hield however.
Source: Marc J Spears on Twitter
September 21, 2018, 7:27 pmJimmy Butler - G - Minnesota Timberwolves
Woj is reporting that despite rebuffs from Minnesota’s front office regarding Jimmy Butler, owner Glen Taylor informed participants of the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting that Butler is indeed available and that they should contact him personally if necessary.
Wow. It looks like things are escalating behind the scenes with Taylor and Thibodeau issuing opposing directives regarding disgruntled Jimmy Butler. It seems like Butler is close to being moved and Thibs could be next to follow him out the door.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
September 21, 2018, 5:36 pmDeAnthony Melton - G - Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns have signed newly obtained De’Anthony Melton to a two-year, $2.3 million rookie deal.
The Suns obtained Melton from the Rockets for Ryan Anderson and Brandon Knight earlier this summer so this signing was always going to happen at some point. With Devin Booker (hand) probably out to start the season and not a whole lot of options to start at point guard, Melton could be a nice surprise. We’ll have to see what the preseason brings.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
September 21, 2018, 5:28 pmAdam Silver - Commissioner - Invalid Team
The NBA’s Board of Governors has approved three changes to the rule book for this season dealing with resetting the shot-clock on an offensive rebound, simplifying the clear path rules and expanding the definition of a “hostile act.”
The first tweak is that the shot-clock will reset reset to 14 seconds after an offensive rebound instead of the usual 24 seconds. The second change is to the clear-path rule- now, it is defined as a personal foul against any offensive player during his team’s transition scoring opportunity so refs won’t have to determine if the defender was in front of the ball or not, or if the defender beat the offensive player to the frontcourt. The last chance will be expanding the definition of a “hostile act” to allow for additional replay for off-ball or other altercations.
Source: NBC Sports
September 21, 2018, 4:54 pmMarkelle Fultz - G - Philadelphia Sixers
Markelle Fultz denied having the “yips” last season and said his struggles shooting the ball were due to his shoulder injury.
This is the opposite of what shooting guru Drew Hanlen said over the summer when he asserted that Fultz had the “yips” and “completely forgot how to shoot.” We’re thinking as a young player, Fultz probably wants to protect his ego and maybe his image- despite recent headway made in the NBA dealing with mental health issues, nobody wants to admit to being psychologically ‘soft.’ At this stage it’s rather irrelevant as to why; we just want to see if Fultz can shoot it or not. Preseason games start soon and we’ll have the popcorn ready.
September 21, 2018, 4:42 pmJimmy Butler - G - Minnesota Timberwolves
According to Jon Krawczynski at The Athletic, Jimmy Butler might not show up to training camp if he isn't traded.
We previously relayed Woj's report that the Wolves were not planning to trade Butler so it looks like both parties are ratcheting up their rhetoric before the season starts. Butler is a notoriously stubborn guy as is coach Thibs so we'll see who wins this head-butting battle. The writing's on the wall for Butler's time in Minnesota, so it's only a matter of when. Tom Thibodeau could be following him out the door as owner Glenn Taylor has been dissatisfied with his old-school tactics.
Source: The Athletic
September 21, 2018, 4:36 pmCarmelo Anthony - F - Houston Rockets
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said he wants wants Carmelo Anthony on the floor when P.J. Tucker is off, and vice versa because he sees them both as power forwards.
It was widely assumed that Melo and Tucker would start together but now it appear to not be the case so maybe James Ennis is the starter at the 3. We’ll have to see how his rotation shakes out and if Melo’s staggered minutes coincide with Chris Paul’s. Either way, Melo looks to have a decreased role on offense as James Harden and Chris Paul control the offense.
Source: Kelly Iko on Twitter