Recent NBA Player News

D'Angelo Russell ready to lead the Nets

Brooklyn Nets point guard D'Angelo Russell said that he's ready to step into a leadership role with his new team.

What It Means:

"Wherever they put me, I am going to take advantage of it to the fullest and that's me being the leader right away. I am looking forward to the challenge," Russell said. Los Angeles Lakers owner Magic Johnson hinted that Russell's lack of leadership skills factored into the decision to trade him away, so he'll be looking to prove himself on the court this year. Russell should be the focal point of the offense, and will have little competition for playing time.

Russell's -5.4 nERD was the 13th-lowest among 245 guards in the NBA this year, but he was in a bad Lakers offense that struggled nightly. Brooklyn offers more tempo, which – combined with an increase from Russell's 28.7 minutes per game this year – should boost his 2016-17 per-game averages of 15.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 4.8 assists.

Clippers' Blake Griffin opts out to become free agent

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin has opted out of the last year of his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

What It Means:

By opting out, Griffin will take advantage of a higher salary cap next season and fatten his wallet this summer. He is eligible for a four-year/$130 max contract, if he leaves L.A., but can sign a five-year/$175 max contract if he stays with the Clippers. The Oklahoma City Thunder and Boston Celtics are rumored to be two of the teams that will try and lure Griffin away from California.

Griffin was hit by the injury bug again in 2016-17 as he missed 21 games. He was able to post solid numbers when he was on the court, averaging 21.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game with a 7.3 nERD rating -- the 26th best mark in the NBA last season.

Chris Paul declines his player option with the Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul has informed the team he is declining his option and will become an unrestricted free agent, according to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times.

What It Means:

Paul has been expected to decline the option as he pursues one last big long-term deal in his NBA career. The 32-year-old has been rumored to be a free agent target for the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, and Denver Nuggets. However, the Clippers remain the favorite to re-sign the point guard as they can offer him a "supermax" deal worth over $200 million.

Paul finished the 2016-17 season with 18.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 9.2 assists per game while posting a 12.8 nERD rating - the 13th best mark among the 486 NBA players last season.

Mavs and Dirk Nowitzki considering a two-year deal

The Dallas Mavericks have officially declined forward Dirk Nowitzki's team option for next season and will begin negotiating a new deal.

What It Means:

Nowitzki isn't going anywhere. Dallas turned down the $25 million option in hopes of negotiating a smaller salary for Dirk as they try to free up cap room to re-sign Nerlens Noel and possibly pursue free agent guard Jrue Holiday. The two sides are discussing a two-year deal as an option to get Nowitzki his well-deserved money. The 2017-18 season will be his 20th year in the league, all with Dallas.

The 39-year-old Nowitzki posted his worst season in the NBA last year with just 14.2 points per game on 43.7% shooting. His -0.9 nERD rating was the lowest he has ever posted in his 19-year NBA career.

Philadelphia's Furkan Korkmaz likely to join team in 2017-18

Philadelphia 76ers guard Furkan Korkmaz will likely join the team for the 2017-18 season, according to president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo.

What It Means:

Korkmaz was the 76ers 26th overall selection in the 2016 draft, but he has yet to set foot on an NBA court. The 20-year-old has been spending most of his time with Banvit B.K. of the Turkish Basketball Super League.

In 21 games with Banvit, Korkmaz started 14 games and averaged 10.8 points on 48.8% shooting and 39.8% from three-point land in the 2016-17 season.

Timberwolves to keep Ricky Rubio

The Minnesota Timberwolves plan to keep point guard Ricky Rubio moving forward.

What It Means:

Rubio was on the block prior to Thursday night's draft, but with Minnesota trading away guards Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine, he will be relied on heavily this upcoming season.

Rubio is coming off a season in which he averaged a career-high 11.1 points per game on a personal-best 40.2% shooting from the field. His 9.1 assists were also the highest of his six-year career.

Mavericks yet to decide on Dirk Nowitzki's team option

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki says that no decision has been made on his $25 million team option for the 2017-18 season, per ESPN's Tim MacMahon.

What It Means:

Nowitzki is guaranteed $5 million either way and could re-sign with the team at a lower cost if Dallas decides not to pick up the option. If the Mavericks pick up the option, Nowitzki would be the team's highest-paid player going into next season.

At 39 years old, the future Hall of Famer might finally be on the decline. Nowitzki's -0.9 nERD ranked him 12th on the team for the 2016-17 season.

Source: ESPN.com

Utah moves up to the 13th pick to draft Donovan Mitchell

The Utah Jazz have sent forward Trey Lyles and the 24th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft to the Denver Nuggets for the 13th overall pick. Utah selected Lousiville Cardinals guard Donovan Mitchell.

What It Means:

The Jazz were looking for shooting and moved up in the draft to grab Mitchell. The former Cardinal provides flexibility as he can play either backcourt spot and gives Utah the long distance shooting they were looking for. The pick could signal that Utah is ready to part move on from George Hill, Joe Ingles or Shelvin Mack, as all three are free agents this summer.

Mitchell averaged 15.6 points, 2.7 assists, and 2.4 three-pointers per game while posting a 21.7 player efficiency rating in his sophomore season at Louisville.

Portland trades up to draft Zach Collins with the 10th pick

The Portland Trail Blazers have traded the 15th and 20th picks in the 2017 NBA Draft to the Sacramento Kings for the right to select Gonzaga Bulldogs center Zach Collins with the 10th overall pick.

What It Means:

The Blazers had three first-round picks and used their surplus to move up five spots to take the dynamic freshman big man Collins. Still young at 19, Collins will take some time to develop his game but will compete right away with Noah Vonleh for minutes at the four while also seeing time at center when Jusuf Nurkic is on the bench.

Collins is a versatile big man who can shoot the three (10-for-21 at Gonzaga) and protect the rim (5.8 blocks per 100 possessions).

Mavericks make Dennis Smith Jr. the ninth pick in the draft

The Dallas Mavericks have selected North Carolina State Wolfpack point guard Dennis Smith Jr. with the ninth pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

What It Means:

Dallas had a big need in their backcourt and got perhaps the most explosive scoring point guard in the draft with Smith. A bit undersized, the former Wolfpack will likely immediately step into the starting lineup in the fall and be an upgrade an anemic Mavs' offense.

Smith averaged 20.8 points and 7.1 assists per 40 minutes for NC State while the Mavericks were the lowest scoring team in the NBA last season with only 97.9 points per game.

Knicks draft Frank Ntilikina with the eighth pick in the draft

The New York Knicks have drafted French point guard Frank Ntilikina with the eighth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

What It Means:

With a glaring need for youth at the point guard position, the Knicks take Ntilikina who can step in and play extended minutes his rookie season. His selection should signal the end of Derrick Rose's tenure in New York, but with Phil Jackson at the helm, who knows.

With Ntilikina's length (7'0" wingspan) and ability to defend multiple positions, he can help a Knicks' team that ranked 25th in the NBA with a 108.7 defensive rating.

Chicago selects Lauri Markkanen with the seventh pick in the draft

The Chicago Bulls have drafted Arizona Wildcats forward Lauri Markkanen with the seventh overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

What It Means:

The Bulls received the seventh pick in the Jimmy Butler trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves. His selection likely signals the end of Nikola Mirotic's Bulls' career as he has a similar game to Markkanen but is six years older and a restricted free agent this summer.

Markkanen provides an instant upgrade to the Bulls three-point shooting as he shot 42.3% from beyond the arc at Arizona while the Bulls ranked 28th in the NBA with just 7.6 three-pointers per game.

Magic make Jonathan Isaac the sixth overall pick in the draft

The Orlando Magic have drafted Florida State Seminoles forward Jonathan Isaac with the sixth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

What It Means:

With a need for talent across the board, the Magic take a small forward/power forward in Isaac who will need some time develop his game in the NBA. Now the question will be how the Magic use Isaac with a similarly built Aaron Gordon on the roster.

Isaac is an exceptional rebounder, averaging 16.5 boards per 100 possessions and a 25.0% defensive rebounding percentage in his one season at Florida State.

Sacramento drafts De'Aaron Fox with the fifth pick in the draft

The Sacramento Kings have selected Kentucky Wildcats guard De'Aaron Fox with the fifth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

What It Means:

The Kings have been looking for their point guard of the future and now have him in Fox. The Kentucky freshman will pair with Buddy Hield in a young Kings' backcourt with former starting point guard Darren Collison likely leaving in free agency.

A great distributor, Fox averaged 8.3 assists per 100 possessions in his one season at Kentucky.

Suns make Josh Jackson the fourth overall pick in the draft

The Phoenix Suns have selected Kansas Jayhawks forward Josh Jackson with the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

What It Means:

After one season at Kansas, as the team's second-leading scorer, Jackson joins a young Suns team stacked with scorers. He will likely immediately slot into the small forward position and become the team's best defender.

Jackson averaged 16.3 points per game while posting a 96.0 defensive rating and 5.7 defensive box plus/minus for the Jayhawks last season.

Celtics draft Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick in the draft

The Boston Celtics have selected Duke Blue Devils forward Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

What It Means:

Rumors are swirling that Boston may be sending Tatum to the Indiana Pacers in a deal for Paul George but for the time being Tatum is the newest member of the Celtics. He will likely come off the bench but will be in the mix for 20-plus minutes per game as the Celtics are thin at power forward.

Tatum was a great defender in college, posting a 4.1 defensive box plus/minus in his one year at Duke.

Bulls trade Jimmy Butler to Minnesota

The Chicago Bulls have agreed in principle to trade guard/forward Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the seventh overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft per Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

What It Means:

After years of rumors, the Bulls have finally dealt their All-Star swingman. Butler is now reunited with former coach Tom Thibadeau and immediately makes the T-Wolves a viable playoff team in the Western Conference. The Bulls, on the other hand, have started their rebuild and will likely be one of the worst teams in the NBA next season.

Butler ranked fifth among 486 NBA players, last season with a 17.3 nERD rating. He averaged 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game.

Lakers draft Lonzo Ball with the second pick of the NBA Draft

The Los Angeles Lakers have selected UCLA Bruins point guard Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft.

What It Means:

The L.A. native Ball gets his wish as he will continue to play in his hometown for the Lakers. He will step in and become the team's starting point guard right away as the Lakers traded away guard D'Angelo Russell earlier this week.

Ball led all of college basketball with 7.6 assists per game and will improve a Lakers' squad that ranked 26th in the NBA with 20.8 assists per game and a 53.2% assist percentage.

76ers select Markelle Fultz first overall in the 2017 NBA Draft

The Philadelphia 76ers have selected Washington Huskies guard Markelle Fultz with the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

What It Means:

No surprise here as the Sixers and Boston Celtics swapped first-round picks earlier this week with Philly having the full intention to draft Fultz. He will start right away in the 76ers backcourt.

Fultz made 2.1 three-pointers per game at a 41.3% rate in college and will immediately improve a Sixers squad that ranked 25th in the NBA with a three-point percentage of 34% this past season.

Bulls undecided on Rajon Rondo's team option for 2017-18

The Chicago Bulls are still undecided as to whether or not they will pick up point guard Rajon Rondo's $13.4 million team option for the 2017-18 season, according to sources of Sean Highkin.

What It Means:

Chicago is reportedly actively shopping small forward Jimmy Butler, which hints that they're eager to begin a rebuild. If that's the case, it wouldn't make much sense to pay big money for a 31-year-old point guard. With three big-time ball handlers in the backcourt in Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Butler, last year's Bulls weren't very smooth. Rondo's fantasy value would be much better elsewhere.

Rondo produced some in 2017, averaging 7.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 6.7 assists in 26.7 minutes per game. He was a mess by value when on the court, though; his -3.2 nERD was the 50th-worst out of 245 NBA guards last year.

Jazz have inquired about Rockets' Patrick Beverley

The Utah Jazz have inquired with the Houston Rockets about guard Patrick Beverley, according to Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune.

What It Means:

Sam Amick of USA Today adds that there are eight teams in the mix to get Beverley from Houston. The Rockets have been linked to superstar after superstar like Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Paul George and so on, so sending Beverley would primarily be about clearing cap room. Beverley has showed he's a capable starter and can play both guard spots.

Beverley averaged 9.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game in an average 30.7 minutes this past season. His 1.8 nERD was 28th-most among guards in the league in 2017.

Rockets placing three players on trade block

The Houston Rockets have made forward Ryan Anderson and guards Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley available for trade, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.

What It Means:

The Rockets are looking to free up cap space in order to go after bigger fish in free agency. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are among their short list of targets this summer.

According to nERD, Williams, Anderson and Beverley were Houston's third-, sixth- and seventh-best players in the 2016-17 season.

Greg Monroe will pick up player option with Bucks

Milwaukee Bucks center Greg Monroe will exercise his $17.8 million player option with the Bucks for the 2017-18 season.

What It Means:

Monroe put up solid numbers off the bench for the Bucks last year, but with no guarantees of a long term deal in free agency, he will stick with Milwaukee for another season. This hurts Thon Maker's fantasy upside heading into next year, but Monroe now becomes a trade candidate playing on an expiring contract.

Monroe averaged 11.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.1 steals over 22.5 minutes per game. He posted a .572 true shooting percentage and his nERD of 3.8 ranked him 57th among all players in 2016-17.

Atlanta Hawks trade Dwight Howard to Charlotte

The Atlanta Hawks have agreed to send Dwight Howard and the 31st pick in the 2017 NBA Draft to the Charlotte Hornets for Miles Plumlee, Marco Belinelli, and the 41st pick in the draft, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

What It Means:

After playing just one year of his 3-year/$70.5 million deal with his hometown team, Howard will now take his services to the Hornets. The Hawks are paying a high price to free themselves of Howard too as Plumlee has three more seasons at $12.5 million and the team gave up a borderline first-round pick. With Paul Millsap likely on the move as well, the Hawks' rebuild is in full swing. For Charlotte, the move solidifies a somewhat revolving door at center and could change their focus to the backcourt with the 11th pick in Thursday's draft.

Last season with Atlanta, Howard averaged 13.5 points, 12.7 boards, and 1.2 blocks per game while posting an impressive 7.8 nERD rating -- ranking him 24th among all 486 NBA players.

Bulls' Dwyane Wade to pick up $24 million player option

Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade will reportedly pick up his player option worth $24 million for the 2017-18 season.

What It Means:

Can you blame the 35-year-old Wade on cashing in after playing arguably his worst NBA season in 2016-17? He averaged just 18.3 points while playing a career-low 29.9 minutes per game last year. The rumors of a total rebuild in Chicago did not scare Wade away from staying in his hometown. He now could be the leading man for a horrible Bulls' squad next season, if they do indeed trade away Jimmy Butler.

Wade posted career-lows with a 43.4% field goal percentage, 3.8 assists per game, and a 50.8% true shooting percentage. He also posted a -0.7 nERD rating, ranking him 269th out of 486 NBA players.

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