NBA News & Notes: Lakers sign Caldwell-Pope, Nuggets sign Millsap

July 13, 2017

The 2017 NBA offseason continues its furious pace of trades and signings, as the Lakers nabbed a quality young perimeter talent at the eleventh hour, and the Nuggets inked productive forward Paul Millsap.  For the latest NBA news, see below:

Warriors sign former Oregon Duck Chris Boucher

The Golden State Warriors made a shrewd, low-cost acquisition today, signing free agent rookie forward Chris Boucher (boo-SHAY) to a two-way contract, the team announced today.

Boucher is a highly athletic shotblocker, who tore his ACL last year while playing for the Oregon Ducks.  If he can eventually regain his health and explosiveness, he could provide the Warriors with quality rim protection down the line.

Boucher, 24, was named to the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team and earned All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention honors as a senior in 2016-17, averaging 11.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.55 blocks in 31 games before suffering a torn ACL (left knee) in the Pac-12 Semifinals on March 10.

Boucher (6’10”, 200) averaged 12.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.74 blocks in 24.8 minutes over 69 games (47 starts) in two seasons at the University of Oregon after earning NJCAA Division I Player of the Year honors at Northwest College in Wyoming in 2014-15.

A native of Montreal, Quebec, Boucher played his freshman season at New Mexico Junior College in 2013-14.

Per NBA rules, teams are permitted to sign two players to two-way contracts in addition to the 15-man regular-season roster. Players signed to a two-way contract may accrue no more than 45 days of service with their respective NBA club during the regular season, spending the remainder of the season with the team’s G League affiliate. The Warriors’ two-way players will have the ability to spend time with both Golden State and the team’s G League affiliate in Santa Cruz.

Lakers sign guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, it was announced by General Manager Rob Pelinka.  Other outlets have reported the deal is for one year at $18 million.

The move is another successful coup by the new Lakers regime and the type of addition the bumbling Jim Buss could never have made had he remained in charge.

Caldwell-Pope joins Los Angeles following four seasons with the Detroit Pistons, where he averaged 11.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 314 contests (274 starts). Last season, the 24-year-old averaged 13.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.2 steals in 76 games (75 starts) with the Pistons.

Pope is a solid player who can defend and shoot from distance.  More importantly, the Lakers are not locked in with him for the long term, as they want to preserve cap space for next season's free agent class.  That strategy may sound similar to the recently canned Buss-Mitch Kupchak regime, only now, with Magic Johnson at the helm, the Lakers' brass currently has the charisma, vision, and credibility to make such max player deals happen next year.

The fact that Caldwell-Pope and LeBron James share the same agent certainly does not hurt either.

Selected by Detroit with the eighth overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft, Caldwell-Pope averaged 15.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 64 career games (60 starts) at Georgia before winning SEC Player of the Year honors in 2013.

Wizards match offer, keep Otto Porter

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced that the team has retained its right of first refusal and matched the offer sheet extended to forward Otto Porter Jr. by the Brooklyn Nets.  Other outlets reported the deal is for four years at $106.5 million.

“Otto has developed into a vital part of our young core, which is why we made it clear that our priority was to keep him here to maintain continuity and build on the success of this group heading into next season and beyond,” Grunfeld said. “His versatility, basketball IQ and three-point shooting combine to make him a great fit for us on the floor while his character and work in the community show why we’re so pleased to have him as a cornerstone of our franchise.”

Porter's price tag was hefty, given that he is not a star player.  Still, he is a young, capable starter at the 3, who has continued to show improvement.

Porter is coming off a career year with the Wizards where he averaged career highs in points (13.4), field-goal percentage (.516), three-point percentage (.434), rebounds (6.4) and steals (1.5). His long-range shooting ranked fourth in the NBA and second in the Eastern Conference (Korver).  He posted 14 games of 20+ points after having 10 total over the first three seasons of his career, hit 148 three-pointers after having 137 total over the first three seasons of his career and became the first player in franchise history to record back-to-back games with six three-pointers.

"After two years at Georgetown and four years with the Wizards here in Washington, D.C., I’m excited to be staying home,” said Porter. “I want our great fans to know that I will continue to work hard to improve my game in all areas and I hope to make an even bigger contribution to the Wizards’ success in the future.”

Porter was originally selected by the Wizards with the third overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft out of Georgetown and has developed into one of the NBA’s most efficient players.  He finished this season first among non-centers in effective field goal percentage at .608 (fifth among all players) and seventh among all players in true shooting percentage at .628.  His two-point field goal percentage (.576) was third among non-centers (trailing only James and Durant) while his overall field goal percentage ranked fourth among guards and small forwards (trailing only James, Durant and Antetokounmpo) and his overall offensive rating ranked second in the NBA (Jordan).

Porter’s offensive output translated to team success as well, with the Wizards ranking third in offensive efficiency, fourth in effective field goal percentage and fourth in fast break points with him on the floor.  Defensively, the team was first in forcing turnovers with Porter on the floor.

The four-year pro was one of only two players (Aldridge) to average at least 13.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and shoot .400 from three-point range last season and become just the fourth player in team history to record those numbers in a season (Ariza, Ballard, Webber).

Porter is one of only two players (McCollum) to see their field goal percentage, three-point percentage, scoring and rebounding averages increase every year since the 2013-14 season and is one of only five players in league history to shoot .500 from the field, .400 from three-point range and .800 from the free throw line in their fourth season (Petrovic, Hornacek, Dumars, Hodges)

For his career, Porter has averaged 9.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.0 steal while shooting .389 from three-point range in 266 games. He has averaged 11.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.4 steals in 23 playoff games during the Wizards’ last two postseason outings.

Nuggets ink Millsap

The Denver Nuggets have signed rugged free agent forward Paul Millsap to a multi-year contract.  Other outlets have reported the deal is for three years at $90 million.

Millsap, 6-8, 246, has spent the last four seasons in Atlanta where he averaged 17.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.67 steals and 1.17 blocks in 297 games (294 starts). He is a high energy player at the 4 who was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star Team in each of his four years with the Hawks.

Millsap was named to the All-Defensive Second Team in 2016, earned Co-Player of the Month honors for January 2015 and Player of the Week honors twice (Jan. 27, 2014 and Apr. 11, 2016).

The 11-year NBA veteran spent the first seven years of his career as a member of the Utah Jazz after being selected with the 47th overall pick of the 2006 NBA Draft. Millsap averaged 12.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.10 steals in 540 games (265 starts) with the Jazz. He was named to the All-Rookie Second Team in 2006-07 and appeared in all 82 games three times with Utah.

Overall, Millsap has appeared in 837 career games (559 starts) for Atlanta and Utah, averaging 14.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.30 steals in 29.5 minutes per game.

Millsap has reached the playoffs in nine of his 11 years in the NBA, advancing to the Conference Semifinals or farther on five occasions. He most recently averaged 24.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.70 steals in six games during the 2017 Playoffs.

Millsap will wear #4 for the Nuggets.

Pistons sign Reggie Bullock and Anthony Tolliver

The Detroit Pistons announced a pair of moves, as the team signed Reggie Bullock and Anthony Tolliver.

Bullock, 26, appeared in 31 games (career-high five starts) with the Detroit Pistons last season, averaging a career-high 4.5 points, while shooting 38.4% from beyond the arc, 2.1 rebounds, 0.9 assists and 15.1 minutes. He scored a career-high 17 points at Orlando (4/12/2017) and recorded single-season career-highs in minutes (467), points (141), field goals made (54) and attempted (128), 3-pointers made (28) and attempted (55), assists (29), steals (18) and blocks (3).

Bullock was drafted 25th overall by the Clippers in the 2013 NBA Draft out of North Carolina.

Tolliver, 32, appeared in 65 games (nine starts) with the Sacramento Kings last season, averaging 7.1 points, while shooting 39.1% from beyond the arc, 3.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 22.7 minutes.  Tolliver scored 10-plus points 21 times, including a season-high 19 points (6-9 FG, 5-7 3FG) vs. Orlando (3/13/2017).

A nine-year NBA veteran undrafted out of Creighton in 2007, Tolliver has appeared in 520 career games averaging 6.2 points while shooting 36.2% from beyond the arc, 3.5 rebounds, 0.9 assists and 20.0 minutes with San Antonio, Portland, Golden State, Minnesota, Atlanta, Charlotte, Phoenix, Detroit and Sacramento.

Before signing with Sacramento as a free agent last season Tolliver spent one and a half seasons with the Pistons.  He averaged 6.3 points while shooting 36.0% from 3-point range, 3.4 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 20.2 minutes in 124 games.

During the 2015-16 campaign, Tolliver helped Detroit reach the NBA Playoffs for the first time since the 2008-09 season, averaging 5.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 0.7 assists and 18.6 minutes in 72 games.

Lakers for PR head John Black honored

When Lakers ownership axed Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak after multiple years of failure, the logic behind those moves was easily understood.  However, when the team fired PR boss John Black, everyone was caught off guard.

This week Black got some measure of justice, as the man who led the Los Angeles Lakers’ Public Relations Department for more than 27 years, was named the recipient of the Brian McIntyre Trophy as the 2017 Splaver/McHugh “Tribute to Excellence” Award winner.

The award, presented during the NBA’s PR Meetings, is given by the NBA Public Relations Directors Association to a current or former member of the NBA public relations family who has demonstrated an outstanding level of performance and service during his or her NBA career.

Black began his NBA career in 1989 as the Lakers’ Public Relations Director after spending more than four years promoting special events for California Sports Inc. He remained with Los Angeles until February 2017, most recently serving as Vice President of Public Relations.

During his tenure with the Lakers, Black oversaw public relations efforts for five NBA championship teams. He coordinated communications for several overseas trips by Los Angeles, including the 1991 McDonald’s Championship in Paris and NBA Global Games in Barcelona, London and China.

Black also embraced the role of mentoring the Lakers’ public relations staff. The list of those who worked under Black includes Golden State Warriors Vice President of Communications Raymond Ridder; Detroit Pistons VP of Public Relations Kevin Grigg; Lakers Media Relations Director Alison Bogli; General Manager Nick Mazzella of the NBA G League’s South Bay Lakers; VP of Public Relations Josh Rupprecht of the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers; and Senior VP of Communications and Broadcasting Mike Altieri of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings.

NBA Board approves rules changes

The NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved rules changes pertaining to timeout format and procedures for administrating free throws and halftime.

Effective with the 2017-18 season, the maximum number of timeouts per game will decrease from 18 to 14.  In addition, during the last three minutes of a game, teams will be limited to two team timeouts each instead of the previous rule that allowed three per team in the last two minutes.

“These changes will help us fulfill our goal of improving game flow and pace of play,” said Byron Spruell, NBA President, League Operations.  “Fewer stoppages and less time without action, especially at the end of a game, will further enhance the viewing experience for our fans.”      

The rule modifications for timeouts are below:

  • Each team will have seven timeouts per game, with no restrictions per half.
  • All team timeouts will be 75 seconds.  In the previous format, “full” timeouts were 90 seconds and “20-second” timeouts were 60 seconds.  Both “full” and “20-second” timeouts have been replaced by team timeouts.
  • All four periods will have two mandatory timeouts, which will take place after the first stoppage under the seven- and three-minute marks.
  • The under-nine-minute mandatory timeouts in the second and fourth periods will be eliminated.
  • Each team can enter the fourth period with up to four team timeouts.
  • Each team will be limited to two team timeouts after the later of (i) the three-minute mark of the fourth period or (ii) the resumption of play after the second mandatory timeout of the fourth period.
  • Each team will have two team timeouts per overtime period; previously teams had three.

The NBA also made the following changes regarding game flow:

  • Referees will assess a delay-of-game violation if a free throw shooter ventures beyond the three-point line between attempts.
  • Halftime will last 15 minutes for all games, beginning immediately upon expiration of the second period.  A delay-of-game penalty will be issued if a team is not ready to start play at the expiration of the halftime clock.
  • In addition, the Board of Governors approved moving the trade deadline from the Thursday after the NBA All-Star Game to the Thursday 10 days before the All-Star Game.  With the new placement of the trade deadline, teams will be able to settle their rosters before the All-Star break and avoid the disruptions that result from players joining new teams just as practices and games are beginning to resume following the All-Star break.

The NBA’s Competition Committee unanimously recommended the rules changes before the Board of Governors’ vote.

By Staff of and news services

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