Pacers Sign Amida Brimah, Waive Brian Bowen

11:57am: Brimah has officially signed his two-way deal with the Pacers, the team announced in a press release. He won’t have to go through a quarantine period and will be available for the team’s game on Saturday vs. Detroit, tweets Scott Agness of The Athletic.

As first reported by J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (via Twitter) and confirmed by the Pacers, Bowen has been waived to open up a spot for Brimah. The 22-year-old forward, who has spent the last two seasons on a two-way deal with Indiana, logged a total of just 46 minutes in 12 games for the team since the start of 2019/20.

9:37am: Following a series of injuries to their frontcourt players, the Pacers are adding some depth. Free agent center Amida Brimah is signing a two-way contract with Indiana, agent Daniel Hazan tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Brimah, who went undrafted out of UConn in 2017, has never appeared in an NBA regular season game despite signing Exhibit 10 contracts with NBA teams for four consecutive years — two with the Spurs (2017 and 2018) and two with the Pacers (2019 and 2020).

The 27-year-old big man had a brief stint with a Serbian club in 2018 but has otherwise spent his professional career in the G League, most recently averaging 8.0 PPG, 8.6 RPG, and 2.6 RPG in 10 games (23.5 MPG) for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in this season’s NBAGL bubble.

Brimah is known for his rim-protecting abilities — he was named the AAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 and made the G League All-Defensive team in 2018. And despite never playing an NBA game, he has some championship experience, having won an NCAA title with UConn in ’14 and a G League title with the Austin Spurs in ’18.

The banged-up Pacers are currently missing Myles Turner (toe), Domantas Sabonis (back), and Goga Bitadze (ankle), so there could be a path to immediate minutes for Brimah, depending on when he officially signs and when Sabonis and Bitadze are ready to return.

Indiana will have to waive one of its current two-way players to make room for Brimah. Brian Bowen is probably a likelier release candidate than 2020 second-rounder Cassius Stanley, but we’ll have to see what the Pacers have in mind.

Draft Notes: Edwards, Alatishe, Cunningham, Mobley, More

Pepperdine junior forward Kessler Edwards has decided to enter his name into the 2021 NBA draft pool, he tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN. While Edwards is maintaining his college eligibility for now, he expects to ultimately keep his name in the draft.

“I don’t think there’s a number in particular that I need to stay in the draft,” he told ESPN. “I’m hoping to receive interest from multiple teams and assurances that I would getting a solid deal and not end up being a free agent that no one picks up. I’m planning on going pro, going through this thing. I feel like most of these teams haven’t seen me in person and the work I’m doing getting ready in terms of my body, measurements and how I play on the court.”

Edwards, who is the No. 48 overall prospect on ESPN’s big board, has an intriguing combination of size, defensive versatility, and outside shooting that appeals to NBA teams, says Givony. In 27 games (33.9 MPG) in 2020/21, Edwards averaged 17.2 PPG and 6.8 RPG on .491/.378/.876 shooting.

Let’s round up a few more draft-related items…

  • Oregon State junior forward Warith Alatishe has decided to test the draft waters, a source tells Givony (Twitter link). The MVP of this year’s Pac-12 tournament, Alatishe averaged 9.5 PPG and 8.6 RPG in 33 games (27.4 MPG) for the Beavers in 2020/21.
  • Even though Evan Mobley and Jalen Suggs had more memorable runs in the NCAA tournament, scouts and evaluators still widely view Cade Cunningham as this year’s probable No. 1 pick, writes Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Mobley, Suggs, and Jalen Green are very likely to be the next three players off the board, though there’s still no consensus on the order, according to Wasserman, who says Mobley may have the slight edge at No. 2.
  • Within the same story, Wasserman examines the mixed opinions that evaluators have about a handful of draft prospects, including Davion Mitchell, Josh Christopher, and Cameron Thomas. He also suggests that Florida State forward RaiQuan Gray is a potential riser to watch during the pre-draft process, adding that Gray looks like a top-40 pick.

Chris Boucher Diagnosed With MCL Sprain

Raptors big man Chris Boucher has been diagnosed with a sprained left MCL, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Boucher, who hurt his knee during Wednesday’s win over Brooklyn, had been set to undergo further testing on Thursday to determine the severity of the injury. It sounds like those tests revealed no major structural damage, which is good news for Boucher and the Raptors.

A specific return timeline for Boucher has not yet been set, and will hinge on how his rehab process goes, says Charania. Typically, players who suffer MCL sprains miss at least a couple weeks of action. There are just over three weeks left in the 2020/21 regular season, but hopefully Boucher’s year isn’t over yet.

After re-signing with the Raptors during the 2020 offseason, Boucher has embraced an increased role with Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol no longer in the frontcourt picture. He has averaged 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game in 59 contests (24.0 MPG), making a case for a longer-term stay with the club.

Boucher’s contract includes a non-guaranteed $7MM salary for 2021/22. Even if Toronto hopes to maximize its cap space this summer, it might make sense to guarantee that money, since a new contract for the 28-year-old is unlikely to come any cheaper.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Durant, Dinwiddie, Green, Pelle

Coming off a nice win over Phoenix on Thursday, the Celtics are set to play the Nets in Brooklyn on Friday, and both teams are a little banged up.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said during a radio appearance on Toucher and Rich on Thursday that Jaylen Brown, who is dealing with shoulder bursitis, is sore, but should be good to go “in the next few days” (Twitter link via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston).

Meanwhile, Evan Fournier (health and safety protocols) is going through a ramping-up process and could return to game action as soon as this weekend, per Ainge. The Celtics’ president also said that Robert Williams (knee) is “not too far away.”

Nets star Kevin Durant, who has missed two games with a left thigh contusion, is listed as questionable on the club’s latest injury report and could be available to play on Friday vs. the Celtics, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. If not tonight, Durant looks like a good bet to be back on Sunday against Phoenix.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who suffered a partially torn ACL early in the 2020/21 season, continues to say that he has a realistic chance of returning during the postseason, as Diamond Leung of The Athletic tweets. While that seemed unlikely at one point, there’s an increasing feeling among league sources that Dinwiddie could return before Brooklyn’s season is over, Lewis writes for The New York Post.
  • Danny Green‘s inclusion in a potential deal for Kyle Lowry at last month’s trade deadline didn’t make or break those talks, but the Sixers value Green as far more than just an expiring contract and were only willing to attach so many additional assets to him in their offer for Lowry, Zach Lowe of ESPN writes in a look at what Green brings to Philadelphia.
  • Bobby Marks of ESPN has the details on Norvel Pelle‘s new three-year contract with the Knicks, tweeting that Pelle received $500K this season (about double his minimum). The second and third years are non-guaranteed, with a team option on that third year. That option would allow the Knicks to make Pelle a restricted free agent in the summer of 2022 if they so choose.
  • In case you missed it, we rounded up a handful of Raptors-related notes on Thursday evening.

Kentucky’s Terrence Clarke Dies Following Car Accident

Kentucky shooting guard Terrence Clarke passed away on Thursday after sustaining fatal injuries during a car accident in Los Angeles, the University of Kentucky confirmed in a statement. Clarke was 19 years old.

WKYT in Kentucky reported that Clarke, who had declared for the 2021 NBA draft and was a potential second-round pick (ranked 72nd on ESPN’s board), had worked out with Wildcats teammate Brandon Boston Jr. before the accident occurred on Thursday afternoon.

The Valley Traffic Division of Los Angeles Police said that Clarke was the only person in the car at the time of the crash, per WKYT. He ran a red light going “at a very high rate of speed,” collided with another vehicle, then ran into a street pole and a block wall, according to police. Clarke was pronounced dead after being transported to Northridge Hospital.

“I am absolutely gutted and sick tonight,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said in a statement. “A young person who we all love has just lost his life too soon, one with all of his dreams and hopes ahead of him. Terrence Clarke was a beautiful kid, someone who owned the room with his personality, smile and joy. People gravitated to him, and to hear we have lost him is just hard for all of us to comprehend right now. We are all in shock.”

Clarke only played in eight games for Kentucky as a freshman in 2020/21, as an ankle injury sidelined him for much of the college season. However, he was prepared to go pro, having signed with Rich Paul and Klutch Sports for representation.

“We are saddened and devastated by the tragic loss of Terrence Clarke,” Paul said in a statement, per ESPN. “Terrence was an incredible, hard-working young man. He was excited for what was ahead of him and ready to fulfill his dreams. Our prayers go out to Terrence and his family, who ask for privacy during this difficult time.”

Clarke grew up in Boston and had established with relationships with a handful of NBA players, including Celtics stars Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown. They were hit hard on Thursday by the news of the 19-year-old’s passing.

“I did (know him), yes,” Walker said (via ESPN). “Yes, I did. Very well. Very well. Very, very, very tough. Very tough news, man. He’s a very, very good kid. Just always smiling, always energetic. And he was about to get his opportunity, too. My condolences to his family.”

We at Hoops Rumors also send our condolences to Clarke’s family and friends.

Raptors Notes: Centers, Watanabe, Trent, Boucher

The recent additions of centers Khem Birch and Freddie Gillespie seem to have fixed the depth trouble at center that has plagued the Raptors all season, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN. At 6’9″, both are nominally a bit undersized for the position, but compensate in strength and awareness.

“It’s definitely a good fit,” Gillespie, on his second 10-day deal with the club, said. “I think the Raptors looked at my skill set and said that’s something we could use. When a team brings you in clearly you offer something that they need.”

There’s more out of Toronto-by-way-of-Tampa:

  • Raptors head coach Nick Nurse noted that the club had considered converting Yuta Watanabe‘s contract to a standard deal for a while, tweets Blake Murphy of The Athletic. “We thought he deserved it,” Nurse said. “We had the roster spot to do it with… He’s certainly under consideration to be part of this team going forward.” Watanabe’s new deal covers next season as well as this one, but isn’t fully guaranteed for 2021/22.
  • New Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr. is enjoy his tenure with his new team, as he recently told reporters (video link via The Toronto Star). “It’s an amazing fit,” Trent said. “Everybody comes in and works hard, so you know this is the perfect place for me. This is the perfect fit for me.”
  • The Raptors expect to examine the sprained left knee of forward Chris Boucher via an MRI scan tonight, and to have more information on his health going forward tomorrow, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.

California Notes: Davis, Holmes, Bagley, Ferrell

Before Lakers All-Star big man Anthony Davis returned to the court tonight for the first time in two months, Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group noted that the team would have to make significant rotational adjustments to its closing lineup.

“It’s gonna be some people who [are] playing well right now, playing a lot of minutes, those minutes get shifted just from the dynamic of having [Davis and eventually LeBron James] out there,” said L.A. forward Kyle Kuzma.

The closing lineup will not be affected just yet, however. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has indicated that Davis, on a strict 15-minute limit at present, will play all of his minutes in the first half of tonight’s game against the Mavericks, Mark Medina of USA Today tweets.

There’s more out of California:

  • Kings center Richaun Holmes has returned to basketball activities as he continues to recover from a strained right hamstring, per Sean Cunningham of ABC10 (KXTV) Sacramento (via Twitter).
  • The fractured fourth metacarpal left hand injury that has kept Kings big man Marvin Bagley III out for a month has healed, according to a team press release. Bagley is hoping to return to the court for Sacramento next week as the team continues to make a play-in push, tweets Sam Amick of The Athletic.
  • New Clippers point guard Yogi Ferrell has been making the most of his 10-day contract, showcasing his instinctive passing and speed in his first game with L.A., writes Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register. The six-footer hopes to remain on the playoff-bound squad beyond his initial deal.

Damion Lee Out 10-14 Days Under COVID-19 Protocols

Warriors reserve wing Damion Lee will miss at least 10-14 days of action as he enters the NBA’s coronavirus health and safety protocols, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Slater notes that the 28-year-old Lee has been a big help for the Warriors’ depleted backcourt. Across 57 games (one start), Lee is averaging 6.5 PPG and 3.2 RPG across 18.9 MPG this season, while connecting on 39.7% of 3.4 three-point looks per night.

Lee’s absence could spell trouble for a team already battling serious rotational absences. Starting center James Wiseman is out for the year after suffering a meniscus tear earlier this month. Juan Toscano-Anderson remains in the league’s concussion protocols, and, of course, maximum-salaried starting swingman Klay Thompson is missing his second straight full season as he recuperates from an Achilles tear.

Every win counts at this point in the season for the scrappy Warriors. At 29-30, Golden State is currently the ninth seed in the crowded Western Conference, mere percentage points ahead of the tenth-seeded Spurs.

“And for those wondering, I did get the (coronavirus) vaccine and continued to practice the property safety protocols,” Lee mentioned in a tweet soon after the news of his absence was announced.

Whether or not Lee himself contracted COVID-19 or has entered protocols after coming into contact with someone who later tested positive is unclear.

Deni Avdija Suffers Fracture In Right Ankle

APRIL 22: An MRI has indicated that Avdija has suffered a right fibular hairline fracture, and will require 12 weeks — but no surgery — to recover, reports Ava Wallace of the Washington Post.

APRIL 21: Wizards rookie forward Deni Avdija suffered a hairline fracture in his right ankle, a source told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

X-rays revealed the injury. Avdija will have an MRI on Thursday, but his season is over, Wojnarowski adds. He’s not expected to require surgery.

Avdija went up for a shot and landed on a Golden State defender in Wednesday’s game. He was averaging 6.3 PPG and 4.9 RPG after being selected with the No. 9 overall pick last fall. He started 31 of 53 games in his rookie campaign.

The Israeli native’s injury is a serious blow to a team making a playoff push. Washington entered the game on a five-game winning streak.

Avdija had been starting a power forward and the Wizards will now look for bigs such as Daniel Gafford, Davis Bertans and Jordan Bell to pick up the slack.

Central Notes: Cavaliers, Brissett, Diakite, Bulls

Promising young Cavaliers guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland are showing signs that they can be an effective long-term pairing, writes Chris Fedor of Together, the 6’1″ teammates comprise a somewhat undersized back court, but can compensate for that with high-level playmaking and scoring. The two players were top-10 picks in consecutive drafts.

“It’s really fun to play with Collin,” Garland said of his Cavaliers teammate. “It’s cool being out there with him and seeing all the stuff that he can do with the ball and even without the ball. He’s gonna go get it regardless. Anytime we need a bucket, we’re gonna go to him. Like I said, he’s gonna play hard for 48 minutes, he’s gonna do what he do.”

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The Pacers used their mid-level exception to give newly-extended forward Oshae Brissett a $757K salary for 2021/22, about three times what his minimum would have been, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Instagram video).
  • The Bucks applied the rest of their own mid-level exception, about $160K, to give power forward Mamadi Diakite a three-year deal, per Marks (Instagram video). The agreement also includes a $100K partial guarantee for the 2021/22 season.
  • The Bulls, currently the No. 12 seed in the East by percentage points despite fielding two 2021 All-Stars in Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic, could see their offseason recruiting pitches impacted if they can’t at least crack the play-in tournament this season, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. The Bulls are 5-10 since trading two future top four-protected draft picks and former No. 7 selection Wendell Carter Jr. in a package for Vucevic. Chicago would need to nab the No. 10 seed to make the play-in tournament this season.