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And-Ones: Roster Moves, Bulls, Rudez, Onuaku

Monday afternoon is the deadline to reach the roster limit of 15, and nine teams still have cuts to make, tweets salary cap expert Albert Nahmad. The Celtics, Cavaliers, Rockets, Lakers, Pelicans, Thunder, Sixers, Suns and Kings all remain over the limit leading into what should be an eventful day. The Pacers were the latest team to trim their roster, waiving Jeremy Evans and Julyan Stone tonight.

There’s more news from around the NBA:

  • J.J. Avila, who was waived Friday by the Bulls, has agreed to play for Chicago’s D-League affiliate, tweets Dennis Silva II of Monitor News. The 6’8″ power forward from Colorado State signed a training camp contract with Chicago in September. Guard Thomas Walkup of Stephen F. Austin, another Friday cut, will also be joining the Windy City Bulls (Twitter link).
  • Damjan Rudez and Arinze Onuaku both traveled a lot of miles to realize their dream of returning to the NBA, writes John Denton of After playing overseas and in the D-League, both veterans were told Saturday that they had earned a place on the Magic’s final roster. “It was a big blessing,” Onuaka said. “When you are out here fighting for a spot every day it’s stressful and to get that news, it was great. You’ve always got to wait to hear if you’re in or you’re out, so it wasn’t easy sleeping at night.’’
  • Fred VanVleet won the Raptors‘ final roster spot, but coach Dwane Casey said all the training camp invitees were impressive, tweets Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. Casey said Drew Crawford and Brady Heslip have the talent to be NBA players, adding that he was disappointed he didn’t have room to keep all of them.

Offseason In Review: Washington Wizards

Over the next several weeks, Hoops Rumors will be breaking down the 2016 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2016/17 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Washington Wizards.

Free agent signings:

Draft-and-stash signings:

Camp invitees:


  • Acquired Trey Burke from the Jazz in exchange for the Wizards’ own 2021 second-round pick.

Draft picks:

  • None

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

Check out our salary cap snapshot for the Washington Wizards right here.

The Wizards spent the last few years preparing for the summer of 2016. Every transaction was scrupulously completed with future flexibility in mind, as the team had an eye toward offering Maryland native Kevin Durant a maximum salary deal. Durant didn’t even take a meeting with Washington, opting to join forces with the Warriors instead. In addition to striking out on Durant, Washington also missed out on other major targets, such as Al Horford and Ryan Anderson. The franchise quickly pivoted to other options and ultimately ended up exhausting its cap space on ancillary parts.NBA: Washington Wizards-Media Day

Ian Mahinmi, who signed a four year, $64MM deal with the team, was brought in to be a force in the paint. Mahinmi has always been known for his defense — he was the third-best center on that end of the floor, according to ESPN’s Real Plus/Minus — but he’s been quietly improving his offensive game as well. He allowed Indiana to play a pace-and-space type offense because of his understanding of the game and his ability to quickly make the right reads and deliver crisp, clean passes. New coach Scott Brooks, who signed a five year, $35MM contract with the team this offseason, should be able to employ a similar game plan with pick-and-rolls mixed in.

Mahinmi’s arrival brought speculation that Marcin Gortat could be on his way out, though a torn meniscus suffered by Mahinmi has temporarily quieted that talk. The two centers shouldn’t see too much court time together because of their overlapping skill-set, including a relative lack of shooting range. Playing the duo together would severely clog the lane, and with only 48 minutes available for the five spot, it’s logical to conclude that a trade may be forthcoming. Gortat has proven to be the better player thus far, but he’s on a team-friendly contract that will pay him $36MM over the next three years. He would fetch more for Washington in a trade should the team decide to make a move.

The Wizards’ other offseason moves also suggest they may be gearing up for a Gortat trade. In addition to Mahinmi, the team signed Jason Smith and Andrew Nicholson. In today’s NBA, Smith and Nicholson are best suited to play the five as well, though both players can handle minutes at the power forward position.

Nicholson is an especially intriguing addition — he’s a bruiser down in the paint with an arsenal of post moves, whose game fits nicely with both Mahinmi and Gortat. I envision him getting some playing time alongside Markieff Morris as well. Washington’s frontcourt is crowded, especially with Otto Porter splitting time at the four with Morris. The Wizards’ depth affords them the ability to deal Gortat for a guard or wing, but the league is jam-packed with non-shooting big men, so finding a suitor will be tricky.

Depth in the backcourt is another story. The team signed Tomas Satoransky  and traded for Trey Burke, yet neither option is proven. Burke didn’t live up to expectations in Utah, so the Wizards will be banking on an improvement from the 23-year-old. His development, along with Satoransky’s transition to the league, could be key to the team’s success this season.

Washington also brought in Marcus Thornton to round out the guard rotation and he should see significant minutes off the bench. The lack of quality perimeter options on the second unit is alarming for a team that has injury concerns with both of its starting guards.

Bradley Beal is fresh off landing a five-year, maximum salary contract, and the Wizards will need him to stay on the court if they’re going to climb the standings in the Eastern Conference. Beal has missed 81 regular season games over the first four years of his career and prior to him signing his lucrative new deal, there was talk that he could be under minute restrictions for the rest of his career due to health concerns. Meanwhile, John Wall underwent multiple knee surgeries over the summer, though he looked sharp in limited minutes during the preseason. If either player misses significant time this season, Washington will struggle to stay in the playoff race.

The Wizards underperformed last season, failing to make the playoffs and notching only 41 wins. This year, they’ll have an opportunity to steal the division crown, since every team in the Southeast is undergoing some degree of transformation: Miami will begin the season without any member of The Heatles for the first time since the 2002/03 campaign; the Hawks will attempt to shoehorn Dwight Howard into their pace-and-space system; the Magic bolstered their frontcourt, but it remains to be seen how the new arrivals will mesh; and the Hornets enjoyed career years from several key players last season, which resulted in them losing a few of their valuable reserves in free agency.

The Southeast division will be up for grabs and while the Wizards didn’t land a top free agent during the offseason, a top seed in the Eastern Conference standings is within their reach.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Northwest Notes: McGary, Quarterman, Faried

A guaranteed contract may not be enough to keep Mitch McGary on the Thunder roster, writes Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. McGary will get a little more than $1.5MM this season whether he plays or not, and a lingering foot injury combined with two violations of the NBA drug policy could seal his fate. McGary wasn’t used at all in Oklahoma City’s six preseason games. The first four were because of the foot problem, but he was a healthy scratch for the final two. “If the opportunity doesn’t present itself [to play], that’s totally on me,” McGary said. “Just means I got to work a little bit harder to get where I want to go. Wherever that is — it may be here; I hope so — I just want to play. That’s it.”

McGary was a first-round pick in 2014, but has spent his career going back and forth to the D-League. He appeared in 20 games for Oklahoma City last season, averaging 1.3 points and 0.9 rebounds in limited playing time. The Thunder still have 19 players on their roster and must cut down to 15 by Monday afternoon.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • After going undrafted out of LSU, Tim Quarterman has earned a spot on the Trail Blazers’ roster, writes Casey Holdahl of Quarterman signed with Portland in late July, which gave him plenty of time to impress Blazers management and coach Terry Stotts. Quarterman only saw 16 minutes of playing time during the preseason, but was able to beat out Grant Jerrett, Greg Stiemsma and Luis Montero for the final roster spot. “I just try to come in and work every day, push myself, go against the vets on the team and stuff like that every day and try to get better,” Quarterman said. “I never approached it as like I was the frontrunner or anything like that, I always approached it like I was the last guy trying to make it to the front.”
  • The Nuggets‘ best lineup includes big men Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic, contends Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post, which means Kenneth Faried will have to get used to being a backup. Faried, who has been mentioned in trade talks in the past, has started 331 of the 348 games he has played since arriving in Denver five years ago. Coach Michael Malone said he plans to talk to Faried about the situation, emphasizing that the same combinations won’t be used every game. “We’re a deep team, and I don’t think you can get caught up in who’s starting, because we’re going to play a lot of guys,” Malone said. “We’re going to finish small some nights, we may finish big some nights.”
  • Injuries will force the Jazz to rely on offseason acquisitions even more than they expected, writes Jody Genessy of The Deseret News. With Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Alec Burks all hurting, that means increased responsibility for George Hill, Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw.

Southwest Notes: Holiday, Demps, Beverley

Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday remains on a leave of absence to care for his wife and newborn daughter, and his representatives have provided an update on the family. In a statement posted on the team’s website, Glushon Management says Lauren Holiday had surgery to remove a brain tumor earlier this month at Duke University Hospital. The couple’s daughter, who was born in September, is “healthy and at home with her family.” The Pelicans have given Holiday permission to remain away from the team for as long as necessary to take care of his family.

There’s more news from the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans GM Dell Demps will probably get some time to see if his 11 offseason roster additions can be successful, writes Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune. Demps kept his job after the 2014/15 season when the organization fired Monty Williams as head coach, and Duncan doesn’t see this as a make-or-break year. The only exceptions could be if the Pelicans get off to a disastrous start like they did in 2015/16 or if Demps’ contract, the details of which haven’t been made public, expires at the end of the season. New Orleans hired former Hawks GM Danny Ferry as a special advisor over the summer.
  • The Rockets are preparing to start the season without point guard Patrick Beverley and power forward Donatas Motiejunas, posts Calvin Watkins on ESPN Now. Beverley will have surgery Tuesday on his injured left knee and is expected to be out of action four to six weeks. Motiejunas is a restricted free agent and remains unsigned three days before the team’s opener. “Taking two guys who can play 60 minutes, 30 each, who aren’t here, it’s going to have an impact,” said Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni.
  • Small forward Troy Williams appears on the verge of earning a roster spot with the Grizzlies, writes Michael Wallace of After going undrafted out of Indiana, Williams signed a two-year deal with Memphis in late July with a $150K guarantee. He was the top preseason scorer among rookies at 13.2 points per game and led the Grizzlies in scoring three times.
  • D.J. Stephens, who was waived by the Grizzlies Saturday, may opt to play overseas instead of playing for the team’s D-League affiliate, Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal reports (Twitter link).

Pacers Waive Jeremy Evans, Julyan Stone

The Pacers have waived Jeremy Evans and Julyan Stone, tweets Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports. The moves get Indiana down to the roster limit of 15 ahead of Monday’s deadline.

Evans, a 6’9″ combo forward, was traded from the Mavericks to the Pacers in July, and Indiana will still be on the hook for his $1,227,286 salary for this season. Evans saw little action for the Pacers in the preseason, appearing in just two games with no points or rebounds. He was battling shoulder problems and tried to come back early from the injury to earn a roster spot (Twitter link).

Stone, a 27-year-old combo guard, was trying to find his way back onto an NBA roster after two seasons out of the league. He signed with the Pacers in late August, getting a $50K guarantee to come to camp. Stone’s NBA experience consists of 47 games over three seasons for the Nuggets and Raptors. He appeared in five preseason games for the Pacers, but averaged just 0.2 points per contest. If he clears waivers, Stone is expected to sign with Indiana’s D-League affiliate in Fort Wayne, tweets Nate Taylor of The Indianapolis Star.

Timberwolves Exercise Options On Four Players

The Timberwolves have exercised third-year options on Karl-Anthony Towns and Tyus Jones and fourth-year options on Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins, the team announced today.

Adreian Payne has been told his fourth-year option will not be picked up, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News in Minneapolis (Twitter link).

Towns and Wiggins are the last two Rookies of the Year and Levine is part of the rotation, so all of those moves were expected. Minnesota has reportedly been in ongoing trade talks involving Jones, with the Sixers as the current front-runner.

Payne, a 6’10” power forward, appeared in 52 games for the Wolves last season, averaging 2.5 points and 2.1 rebounds in 9.3 minutes per night. He was acquired from the Hawks in a 2015 trade.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Brand, Rodriguez

The final game of the preseason Friday was the first time Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor appeared in the same game for the Sixers, and while coach Brett Brown is open to the idea of using both simultaneously, it will likely take time for that to happen, Brian Seltzer of writes. The two big men have often been subject of trade rumors because they present a surplus of the same thing. The two players are also coming off of injuries and their limitations are the reason why they likely won’t be able to share the court early on, Seltzer writes.

Here is more out of Philadelphia:

  • The Sixers have approached Elton Brand about accepting a front-office position and he has not ruled out the possibility of taking the job, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. It was a formality move when the Sixers announced they waived Brand Sunday because he had already announced his retirement.
  • The team has yet to decide on a starting point guard for the season opener, but Sergio Rodriguez was in action with the starting unit during practice, Pompey tweets.
  • With Rodriguez the likely starter and with a few notable injuries, the Sixers are reportedly interested in acquiring guard Tyus Jones, but Pompey writes in a separate story that the veteran is a backup at best and would not necessarily solve Philadelphia’s issues.

Jared Sullinger To Undergo Surgery

Raptors power forward Jared Sullinger will undergo foot surgery on Monday and is expected to miss an extended amount of time, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports (on Twitter). It is unclear how long Sullinger will be out, but it will be a minimum of several weeks, Wojnarowski writes in a full story.

Sullinger hurt his left foot when it was stepped in the Raptors’ preseason opener against the Warriors on October 4th, and has been out since. Sullinger was projected to be the Raptors’ starting power forward. Without him, the expectation would be for the Raptors to lean on Patrick Patterson. First-round pick Pascal Siakam may also see an increased role early on in the rotation.

The Raptors signed Sullinger to a one-year deal worth $6MM in July. Sullinger, 24, spent four years in Boston after the Celtics made him the No. 21 overall pick on the 2012 NBA Draft. He appeared in 81 games last season, including 73 starts, averaging 10.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 23.6 minutes per game.

Hoops Links: Wolves, Warriors, Bulls

Every Sunday, we link to some of the very best work from around the basketball blogosphere. Do you have a link to a great basketball blog post – either your own or someone else’s – that you want to see featured on Hoops Rumors? Then you should send it to us at [email protected]. Here’s this week’s rundown …

Please send submissions for Hoops Links to Will at [email protected].

Knicks Notes: Ndour, Randle, Rose, Amundson

Defense was behind the Knicks’ decision to keep Maurice Ndour over Chasson Randle, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. The 6’9″ Ndour provides a defensive presence with the bench unit, something coach Jeff Hornacek felt was important after watching the team in preseason. “He’s an activity guy when we need to mix it up,’’ Hornacek said of Ndour. “You saw in some of the preseason games when he face-guarded a point guard and ran around to deny him the ball. He creates havoc out there. He’s done a nice job with the second group. His activity of cutting to the basket, moving around, we liked that energy.’’ Ndour, a Senegal native, first impressed the Knicks while playing for their 2015 summer league team. He appeared in six games this preseason, averaging 4.3 points and 2.4 rebounds.

There’s more news out of New York:

  • Randle is examining his options, but Hornacek would like to see him join the Knicks’ D-League affiliate in Westchester, Berman relays in the same piece. Randle is recovering from an orbital fracture and is expected to be sidelined for another month. He has a $100K guarantee, and it’s possible that he could be brought back to the roster when he’s healthy in place of Ron Baker. “He’s done a great job for us,’’ Hornacek said of Randle. “We hope all these guys get other jobs and another team picks them up, but our hope is if he doesn’t go to another team, he stays with our organization. We really like what he did for us.”
  • Derrick Rose rejoined the Knicks Saturday after missing nine practices and five preseason games because of a sexual assault civil trial in Los Angeles, Berman writes in another story. Rose, who played in just one preseason game, is excited to be able to concentrate solely on basketball. “I’ve been preparing for this for a long time,” he said. “Ever since I didn’t make the playoffs last year, I’m still chasing something right now. I just want to hoop and let my game speak for itself.”
  • New York’s frontcourt depth worked against veteran Lou Amundson, who was among five players waived Friday, according to Adam Zagoria of The 33-year-old power forward has been in the league for 10 years and spent most of the past two seasons with the Knicks. New York decided to part ways with Amundson even though he is guaranteed more than $1.5MM for this season. “Lou, it came down to a matter of how many bigs we have,” Hornacek said. “We have a lot of bigs on the team. So that was a tough one.”

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