Hawks’ GM: ‘Rajon(Rondo) is an intense competitor, a proven winner and a true student of the game’

The Atlanta Hawks have signed free agent guard Rajon Rondo, the team announced today.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, it a two-year, $15 million deal.

“Rajon is an intense competitor, a proven winner, and a true student of the game,” said Hawks President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Travis Schlenk. “His resume and experience speak for themselves. We’re excited to add him to our group.”

The 34-year-old Rondo, a two-time NBA champion (including in 2020 with the Lakers), four-time All-Star, and two-time NBA All-Defensive First Team member, has led the NBA in assists three times and in steals once.

In 873 career regular season games (729 starts) with Boston, Dallas, Sacramento, Chicago, New Orleans, and the Los Angeles Lakers, he’s averaged 10.2 points, 8.3 assists, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.7 steals in 31.0 minutes (.458 FG%, .316 3FG%, .606 FT%). The 6-foot-1 Rondo has 121 games of career postseason experience (105 starting assignments), averaging 13.3 points, 9.0 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 35.9 minutes (.444 FG%, .320 3FG%, .648 FT%).

Among active NBA players, the 14-year veteran ranks fourth in assists (7,215, 15th overall in NBA history) and sixth in steals (1,451).

The 21st overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft by Phoenix, Rondo was traded to the Celtics on draft night. He earned NBA All-Defensive First Team honors in 2010 and 2011, All-Defensive Second Team in 2009 and 2012, Third Team All-NBA in 2012, and Second Team All-Rookie in 2007.

Rondo is a proven winner and last season with the Lakers proved that. Now, he brings his winning mentally to a young Hawks team ready to next that step.

Clippers’ Frank: ‘Luke(Kennard) is a young, ascending player who has worked hard to establish himself as a reliable shooter and playmaker’

The LA Clippers have completed a three-team trade with the Detroit Pistons and Brooklyn Nets, the teams announced on Thursday. The Clippers acquired Pistons guard Luke Kennard, center Justin Patton, the draft rights to Jayden Scrubb (Nets 55th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft), and four second-round draft picks (Portland 2023, Detroit 2024, 2025, 2026).

The Nets received Clippers guard Landry Shamet, Pistons guard Bruce Brown, and the draft rights to Reggie Perry (Clippers 57th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft).

The Pistons acquired the draft rights to Saddiq Bey (Nets 19th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft), Clippers guard Rodney McGruder, Nets forward Dzanan Musa, a second-round draft pick (Toronto 2021), and the draft rights to Jaylen Hands.

“Luke is a young, ascending player who has worked hard to establish himself as a reliable shooter and playmaker,” said Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank. “We’ve admired him from afar for quite a while and are excited to have him. In addition, the draft assets allow us the opportunity to continue drafting and developing young talent, or otherwise explore trade opportunities, for years to come.” 

Last season was a breakout year for the 24-year-old Kennard. In 28 games, the former 2017 lottery pick of the Pistons, averaged 15.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and, 3.5 rebounds per contest. However, he played in only 28 games due to knee tendonitis. With Kennard, the Clippers get a shooter(40% career three-point shooter). Also, he adds more depth to an already deep team. 

The 23-year-old Shamet, who was acquired from the 76ers in 2019, had his moments with the Clippers and is a knockdown three-point shooter, which should be very useful playing with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn.

According to the L.A. Times, with this move, the Clippers are set to be eligible to use their full midlevel exception, worth $9.2 million, which they can use to add another player.


Wizards’ Avdija on team’s roster: ‘I think it’s very talented’

With the ninth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Washington Wizards selected Israel’s Deni Avdija, the first Israeli born player to be drafted in the lottery. The 19-year-old forward has been a professional in Israel since the age of 16, so while he young, he does have some experience.

While in Israel, the 6-9 Avdija played small forward, but he has shown the ability to handle the ball, and some believe he could be a point forward at the NBA level. And when it’s all said, Avdija hopes to work hard and maximize his talents. 

When asked what his goals are in the NBA, Avdija said the following.

“First of all, to bring my work ethic from back here. Just keep improving every day, be a better player every day, help the team as much as I can. At the end of my career to look at it and say I was the best Deni Avdija I could be, and I don’t regret anything. It’s a great journey ahead of me, and I’m super excited.”

Avdija’s father, Zufer, played professionally in Serbia and Israel in the 1980s, and according to Avdija, he has learned a lot from his father.

“It was great. It was great to have another competitive spirit in the house,” Avdija said. “He was a great player himself, so he had a lot of good things to teach me and teach me how to act on the court, some small tricks maybe in my game that I use that he used, and just how to be a professional, how to work hard, how to have good work ethic, and just always be competitive and just play to win. That was big for me.”

Next season, the Wizards are expected to have their dynamic backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal back together, which will help immensely. According to Avdija, the Wizards have a talented team.

“I think it’s very talented,” Avdija said. “I’m ready to meet everybody and get straight to work. Hopefully, we can grind and have a good season. I’m just going to bring the best for the team, and hopefully, we can win as many games as we can.”

Don’t expect Avdija to come into the NBA and contribute right away. He’s a young player, so it will take time for him to develop. In the end, this pick was not about today; it’s about tomorrow. 


Philadelphia trades Josh Richardson to Mavericks for Seth Curry

The Philadelphia 76ers and new president of basketball operations Daryl Morey were very busy on draft day in the NBA. According to reports, the team will send Al Horford and picks to the Thunder for Danny Green. On draft night, Philly sent Josh Richardson and the draft rights to Tyler Bey, the 36th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, to the Mavericks in exchange for guard Seth Curry.

With Richardson, the Mavericks get an athletic guard who can score a little bit and defend. The 27-year-old Richardson averaged 13.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.9 assists in 55 games (53 starts). Richardson played four seasons in Miami before being dealt to Philadelphia as part of a four-team deal last summer. The five-year can opt out of his contract at season’s end.

The 76ers get shooting with Curry, and the six-year guard gets to play for his father-in-law, Doc Rivers. Curry is married to Rivers’ daughter, Callie. Last season, the 30-year-old Curry averaged 12.4 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in 64 games in his second stint with the Mavericks, and more importantly for the 76ers, Curry shot 45% from three-point land.

Philadelphia is looking to reshape their roster, and you wonder if there are more moves to be made. To be able to unload the 34-year-old Horford, who signed with Philadelphia last offseason and had three-years, $81 million left on his contract, is incredible. If there was any contract that seemed unmovable, it was Horford’s deal with the 76ers. While it cost him picks, Morey got it done. We’ll see what’s next in Philadelphia, but you get the sense that Morey is not finished remaking this team.


NBA announces schedule format, Play-in Tournament returns for 2020-21 season

The NBA announced the structure and format for the 2020-21 season on Tuesday, which will include a Play-In Tournament to determine the teams that will fill the seventh and eighth playoff seeds in each conference.

The regular season will begin on Tuesday, Dec. 22 and feature 72 games for each team.

The opponent breakdown for the regular season:

  • Each team will play three games against each intraconference opponent (42 total games per team), with each pairing featuring either two home games and one road game or one home game and two road games.  Within each team’s division, the league office has randomly assigned which two opponents will be played twice at home and which two opponents will be played twice on the road.

  • All five teams from within a division will play all five teams from one other intraconference division twice at home, and all five teams from the remaining intraconference division twice on the road.

  • Each team will play two games against each interconference opponent (30 total games per team), with each pairing featuring one home game and one road game.

NBA schedule to be released in segments:

The 2020-21 regular-season schedule will be released in two segments.  The schedule for the First Half of the season will be released around the start of training camp.  The schedule for the Second Half of the season will be released during the latter part of the First Half portion of the schedule.  The Second Half schedule will include the remainder of each team’s 72 games not scheduled in the First Half as well as any games postponed during the First Half that can reasonably be added to the Second Half schedule.

All=Star Break:

The All-Star break is scheduled to take place March 5-10, 2021, between the First Half and Second Half of the regular season.

Play-in-Tournament information:

Additionally, The Play-In Tournament, which will take place after the regular season and before the first round of the playoffs, will include the teams with the seventh-highest through the tenth-highest winning percentages in each conference.

The teams with the seventh-highest and eighth-highest winning percentages in each conference will each have two opportunities to win one game to earn a playoff spot.  The teams with the ninth-highest and tenth-highest winning percentages in each conference will each have to win two consecutive games to earn a playoff spot.

At the conclusion of the regular season, the team with the seventh-highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the eighth-highest winning percentage in its conference in a Play-In Game (the “Seven-Eight Game”).  The winner of the Seven-Eight Game in each conference will be the seventh seed in the playoffs for its conference.

The team with the ninth-highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the tenth-highest winning percentage in its conference in a Play-In Game (the “Nine-Ten Game”).  The loser of the Seven-Eight Game will host the winner of the Nine-Ten Game in a Play-In Game, and the winner of that game will be the eighth seed in the playoffs for its conference.

Tentative schedule calendar for the 2020-21 season:

  • Dec. 11-19, 2020: Preseason games

  • Dec. 22, 2020 – March 4, 2021: First Half of regular season

  • March 5-10, 2021: All-Star break

  • March 11 – May 16, 2021: Second Half of regular season

  • May 18-21, 2021: Play-In Tournament

  • May 22 – July 22, 2021: 2021 NBA Playoffs

Pelicans promote former WNBA star Teresa Weatherspoon to assistant coach

The New Orleans Pelicans announced on Monday the hiring of Bob Beyer, Casey Hill, and Rex Walters as assistant coaches, along with Corey Brewer and Beno Udrih as player development coaches. They join Assistant Coach Fred Vinson and Teresa Weatherspoon, who has been promoted to assistant coach, and Player Development Coach Darnell Lazare on Head Coach Stan Van Gundy’s staff. 

“I am excited about our coaching staff,” said Van Gundy. “We have a great mix of background, experience, perspective and expertise. Four of our assistants have been head coaches at the professional or NCAA Division I levels. Five of our coaches played in the NBA or WNBA. Three coaches have institutional knowledge having worked for Griff, Trajan and current Pelicans players, while three others have worked with me and two bring us an entirely new perspective. I am looking forward to working with this staff to maximize the potential of our talented players.”

The 54-year-old Weatherspoon returns for her second season with New Orleans after serving as a two-way player development coach in 2019-20. Prior to joining the Pelicans, Weatherspoon served as the director of player and franchise development with the WNBA’s New York Liberty from 2016-19. Weatherspoon was recently enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts as part of the 2019 class.

DeRozan exercises player option to return to Spurs

DeMar DeRozan has exercised his player option for the upcoming season, the Spurs announced today. According to spotrac.com, DeRozan will make $27.7 million in 2020-21.

DeRozan, who came to San Antonio in 2018 in the Kawhi Leonard trade, has averaged 21.6 points, 5.9 assists, and 5.8 rebounds in two seasons with the Spurs. Last season, DeRozan and league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo were the only two players in the NBA to average 20-plus points, 5-plus rebounds, and 5-plus assists while shooting over 50.0 percent from the field. 

A two-time All-NBA selection, the 31-year-old DeRozan is one of just five players to score 1,500-plus points in each of the last five seasons, joining LeBron James, James Harden, Damian Lillard, and Russell Westbrook.

An 11-year veteran, DeRozan was originally drafted by the Toronto Raptors with the ninth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. 

Pelicans name Stan Van Gundy head coach

Stan Van Gundy has returned to coaching. On Thursday, the New Orleans Pelicans named Van Gundy as the team’s head coach.

“I am honored and excited to coach this talented group of players in New Orleans,” said Van Gundy. “This opportunity was one that I was really attracted to due in large part to David Griffin’s record of putting together highly competitive, talented teams in a great family atmosphere. When I got into the interview process and had a chance to meet with Mrs. Benson, Dennis Lauscha, Griff, Trajan Langdon, Swin Cash, and the Pelicans front office, it became clear how committed and invested they are to winning.”

The 61-year-old Van Gundy, who spent last season as a game analyst for TNT and studio analyst for NBA TV, last served as the head coach and president of basketball operations for the Detroit Pistons from 2014-18.

Van Gundy’s most successful stint came in Orlando. He helped lead the Magic to five consecutive postseason appearances, highlighted by an Eastern Conference Championship in 2009. During his tenure with the Magic, the team compiled a 259-135 (.657) regular season record, and Van Gundy was selected as head coach of the Eastern Conference for the 2010 NBA All-Star Game. From 2007-11, Van Gundy’s Magic teams finished in the top five each season in plus/minus, and top 10 each season in three-point shooting, offensive rating, and defensive rating.

New Orleans is a team with a lot of potential. Obviously, they have Zion Williamson. Also, the Pelicans have the league’s Most Improved Player in Brandon Ingram, Jrue Holiday, and they have a 2020 lottery pick, so this team could have a very bright future, which will give Van Gundy a great chance to win in New Orleans.



Clippers’ Lue: ‘The pieces we need are in place’

The L.A. Clippers have named Ty Lue as the team’s head coach, the team announced on Tuesday. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, it’s a five-year deal. 

The 43-year-old Lue served as an assistant coach under Doc Rivers for the Clippers during the 2019-20 season. As a head coach, Lue’s most significant moment is when he led the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first NBA title in 2016. 

 “The pieces we need are in place – committed ownership, smart management, and elite talent, on and off the court, in the NBA’s best market,” Lue said. “My familiarity with the organization, particularly Mr. Ballmer and Lawrence, confirmed this is where I want to be. We have work to do to become champions, but we have the motivation, the tools, and the support to get there. I’m excited to get started.”

During the 2015-16 season, Lue became the fourth head coach since 1980 to win an NBA Championship during his first year, and the 14th person to have won a title as a head coach and as a player. Over the next two seasons, he led the Cavaliers to two more Finals appearances, becoming the third head coach in NBA history to lead his team to three straight NBA Finals in his first three seasons. 

Lue is right. The Clippers have everything in place to compete for a title, and just he did for Cleveland, Lue has an opportunity to put Los Angeles over the top. Now, the Clippers have to get everyone on the same page, which, according to reports, appeared to be an issue for this team. However, not many teams are as talented as the Clippers, so expect them to be one of the favorites again next season.

Kristaps Porzingis undergoes surgery to repair knee

Mavericks F Kristaps Porzingis underwent surgery to address a lateral meniscus injury of his right knee, the team announced today. The 25-year-old Porzingis suffered the injury in Game 1 of the Mavericks’ opening-round series against the L.A. Clippers on Aug. 17.

According to the team Porzingis will begin rehab immediately and there is no timetable set at this time.

This season, Porzingis averaged 20.9 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game.