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NBA Rumors: Celtics, Heat, Thunder and Pelicans

This edition of the NBA rumor mill will look at teams instead of players. I will look at the Boston Celtics draft and stash prospects and a couple of players that the Miami Heat may be interested in signing a couple of players. I will also look at some of the happenings within the Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans camp.

NBA Rumors: Celtics, Heat, Thunder and Pelicans

Boston Celtics Draft-and-Stash

The Boston Celtics have 14 players on standard contracts for the upcoming season and are very close to the league’s super tax apron. Dalano Banton has a partial guarantee until opening night, when $1.2 million of his $2 million deal becomes guaranteed. Justin Champagnie is on a nonguaranteed deal though the C’s owe him $50,000 on August 1.

Two players who won’t be competing for a roster spot for a couple of seasons, according to Brian Trobb of MassLive, are draft-and-stash prospects Yam Madar and Juhann Begarin. Trobb said that while the Celtics are still high on both players, neither are ready for the NBA.

Madar, selected with the No. 47 overall pick in 2020, has been playing professionally overseason since 2018. The 22-year-old Israeli point guard has spent the last two seasons with Serbian club Partizan Belgrade. In 76 games across all competitions for Partizan last year, Mader averaged 6.6 points with a shooting slash line of .478/.405/.853. The 2023 EuroLeague Rising Star recipient also contributed 2.1 assists and 1.1 turnovers in 16 minutes. He signed with Turkish club Fenerbahce Beko on July 12 for two years with an option for a third season.

Begarin was selected with the No. 45 pick in 2021 by the Celtics and has been playing professionally since 2019. The 20-year-old shooting guard has played for Paris Basketball in France’s second-tier league since turning pro but has moved to Nanterre 92 of France’s top league for the upcoming season.

Begarin averaged 11.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.4 steals in 45 contests last season. He didn’t shoot it well in 2022-23 and struggles defensively and with turnovers. The same thing can be said about his performance in this year’s summer league, where he scored 18 points a game.

Oklahoma City Thunder’s Roster Issue

The Thunder have 20 players on standard contracts for the upcoming season. Therefore, the Thunder must purge five players between now and opening night. Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman projects the five players that won’t be included on the Thunder’s 15-man roster this year are Jeremiah Robinson-EarlVictor OladipoJack WhiteUsman Garuba, and TyTy Washington. OKC received Garuba, Olidipo, and Washington in trades this summer.

“[Thunder general manager] Sam Presti and the front office has been clever this offseason in turning over the back end of the roster for more picks, and I don’t think they’re done,” Mussatto wrote. “The expiring contract of Oladipo ($9.5 million) could be useful as part of a larger trade. And heck, maybe Washington or Garuba could be flipped for a second-round pick. The Thunder might eventually have to waive a player or two, but there’s a couple of months to figure that out.”

White got $600,000 to sign with the Thunder on July 20. The 25-year-old Ausie forward, who appeared in 17 games for Denver last season, played very well in 14 G-League games.

Garuba has some value as a defender and as a rebounder. The 21-year-old can also stretch the floor with his shooting though he is a little undersized as a center or power forward.

Washington was a surprise first-round pick last year. The 21-year-old was impressive in his eight-game stint in the G-League and played better after the all-star break with the Houston Rockets.

Miami Heat Interested In Jamal Cain, Chase Audige, and Goran Dragic

Miami is still interested in bringing back Jamal Cain on another two-way contract, which is why the Heat made him a $1.8 million qualifying offer. But Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald recently wrote that Cain prefers a standard contract and continues to talk to other teams. The Heat currently have 13 players on standard deals and two of their three two-way slots filled.
Cain was highly productive in his short stint with Miami last season. The 24-year-old forward averaged 5.4 points and 2.9 boards in 18 games while producing a shooting line of .561/.350/.773. Cain also played well during summer league action, with ball handling being his biggest weakness.
According to Jackson, the Heat are also interested in adding undrafted free agent Chase Audige to their training camp roster. But whether the 24-year-old guard would accept the team’s offer is unknown. Audige is highly aggressive on both ends though he was not very efficient offensively during his college career.
This summer, Audige played exceptionally well for the Heat in Sacramento and Las Vegas. In seven games, Audige averaged 6.4 points and 1.3 treys while shooting 47.1% from the field and 40.0% from the 3-point line.

In other news, Jackson also said the Heat have talked with Goran Dragic‘s representatives about a possible reunion. However, Jackson added that a deal probably wouldn’t occur until later in the offseason. The 37-year-old guard appeared in 58 games last year with Chicago and Milwaukee. But he dealt with a knee problem that required surgery, and Miami can only offer him the veteran minimum.

New Orleans Pelicans Trade Rumors

The New Orleans Pelicans are over the NBA luxury tax with 14 players on standard contracts. There is speculation that the Pelicans may not be willing to pay the tax as the franchise is in a bit of flux. The primary concern is Zion Williamson‘s health and how well he and Brandon Ingram fit together. There are rumors that the Pels are looking for suitors for reserve point guard Kira Lewis Jr.

Another pressing issue for New Orleans, per The Athletic’s John Hollinger and William Guillory, will be to find a replacement for center Jonas Valanciunas if they don’t plan on retaining the upcoming unrestricted free agent.

“With Valančiūnas heading into the final year of his deal, the Pels have been sniffing around for other options in recent months, Guillory said. There have been rumors of them exploring potential deals for Jarrett Allen or Isaiah Stewart, but nothing has materialized quite yet.”

“Valančiūnas brings some qualities they need at the position, like rebounding and scoring the basket. He’s one of the more dependable options out there at the starting center position. But his limitations on the defensive end have limited his effectiveness late in games. Those issues will only grow as he creeps deeper into his 30s.”

Allen would be a great fit for the Pelicans. He is much younger, more athletic, and a better defender than Valanciunas. Stewart would also be fit for the Pelicans, but Detroit gave him a rookie scale extension, and they have rebuked several trades for him.

Don’t expect the Pelicans to look to move Valanciuanas until midseason unless they can get Allen from the Cavs beforehand.


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