Month: July 2017

Pistons, Derek Willis Agree To One-Year Deal

The Pistons have agreed to sign undrafted free agent Derek Willis, according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes (via Twitter). Willis will sign a one-year contract with Detroit, Haynes reports.

Willis, who spent four years at Kentucky, wasn’t viewed as a top prospect heading into this year’s draft, ranking 58th on DraftExpress’ list of seniors. The 6’9″ forward posted modest numbers during his final season with the Wildcats, posting 7.0 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 1.0 BPG in 38 games (21.9 MPG).

However, the Pistons worked out Willis in June and apparently liked what they saw from the 22-year-old, who also showed an ability to make outside shots over the course of his college career (.399 3PT%).

Detroit has used its mid-level exception and bi-annual exception, so Willis figures to get a minimum salary contract from the club, and I doubt it will be guaranteed. The Pistons likely have their eye on Willis as a possible affiliate player for the Grand Rapids Drive, rather than as a member of Detroit’s 15-man regular season roster.

Celtics To Sign Shane Larkin

12:35pm: Larkin’s one-year deal with the Celtics will be fully guaranteed, a source tells Jay King of MassLive.com. King also hears that Boston still intends to sign Yabusele to an NBA contract this season, which would add a 16th guaranteed salary to the team’s books for 2017/18.

10:46am: Larkin’s deal will be for one year, tweets Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype.

10:10am: The Celtics have reached an agreement with Shane Larkin that will bring the point guard back to the NBA, reports international basketball journalist David Pick (via Twitter). Terms of the deal aren’t known, but Larkin and the C’s have agreed to terms, according to Pick, who suggests that the point guard is leaving $6MM+ on the table by returning stateside (Twitter link).

Larkin, the 18th overall pick in the 2013 draft, spent time with the Mavericks, Knicks, and Nets before heading overseas last season. Having signed with Spanish team Baskonia for the 2016/17 campaign, Larkin was one of the most productive point guards in Europe, averaging a team-high 14.1 PPG and 4.9 APG in 37 Spanish League games for Baskonia. He also led the club in PPG (13.1) and APG (5.7) in 33 Euroleague games.

Larkin didn’t exactly turn heads during his first stint in the NBA, averaging a modest 5.8 PPG and 3.2 APG in 202 regular season games. However, he’s still just 24 years old, and Pick suggests that Larkin was widely viewed as the top Euroleague free agent point guard after Milos Teodosic signed with the Clippers.

While Boston appears willing to roll the dice on Larkin, it’s not clear if the Miami alum will be guaranteed a spot on the regular season roster. With Avery Bradley and Demetrius Jackson no longer on the team, I’d expect Larkin to have an inside track on a 15-man roster spot to provide backcourt depth, particularly since he reportedly turned down a far more lucrative offer from Barcelona in order to join the C’s. Still, the back of the roster could get a little crowded, given the arrivals of players like Abdel Nader, Semi Ojeleye, Daniel Theis, and possibly Guerschon Yabusele.

The Celtics are virtually out of cap room and have used the room exception on Aron Baynes, so Larkin appears likely to receive a minimum salary deal.

Jazz Sign Eric Griffin To Two-Way Contract

JULY 20: The deal is now official, with the Jazz issuing a press release to formally announce the signing of Griffin.

JULY 17: The Jazz have agreed to sign forward Eric Griffin to a two-way contract, according to Chris Reichert of Two Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link). It’s the first reported two-way deal for Utah.

Griffin, 27, went undrafted in 2012, and has yet to make his NBA debut. However, he has an extensive professional resume that includes stints with teams in Italy, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Israel, and the G League.

This summer, Griffin turned some heads with his performance for the Jazz’ Summer League teams in the Utah and Las Vegas leagues. He averaged 8.7 PPG and 6.0 RPG with a .588 FG% in three games in the Utah league, then recorded 10.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 3.0 BPG, and a .500 FG% in four Vegas contests.

On a two-way contract, Griffin will spend the majority of the 2017/18 season with Utah’s G League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars. However, he’ll be permitted to join the Jazz for up to 45 days as well. For more information on how two-way contracts work, be sure to check out our primer.

Rockets To Re-Sign Troy Williams

Free agent forward Troy Williams is returning to the Rockets, his agency ASM Sports announced today (via Twitter). According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link), Williams will get a three-year contract with a fully guaranteed first year and trigger dates for years two and three.

A 22-year-old forward out of Indiana, Williams landed with the Grizzlies last summer after going undrafted. Williams played 24 games for Memphis, starting 13 of them, before he was waived in January to make room on the roster for Toney Douglas. The Rockets picked up Williams and signed him to a rest-of-season contract, letting him become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Although the Rockets didn’t tender Williams a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent, the team retains his Non-Bird rights, which allow for a three-year deal. Without those Non-Bird rights, the Rockets would have only been able to offer a two-year minimum salary contract, since the club has already used its full mid-level exception and bi-annual exception.

The Rockets also reportedly agreed to re-sign Bobby Brown.

Rockets Agree To Re-Sign Bobby Brown

The Rockets have reached an agreement with free agent guard Bobby Brown, according to international basketball journalist David Pick (Twitter link). Brown confirmed to Alykhan Bijani of ESPN 97.5 Houston (Twitter link) that he’s re-signing with the club.

Brown, 32, returned to the NBA last year for the first time since the 2009/10 season, joining the Rockets after spending several years playing in Europe and Asia. Although he was a standout scorer during most of his international stops, Brown didn’t play much for Houston in 2016/17, appearing in 25 regular season games and seeing just 123 total minutes of action. He also played limited minutes in five postseason contests.

While Brown didn’t make much of an impact on the court, it sounds like he has played a key role off it for the Rockets. The California native was said to be one of the key players involved in the recruitment of Chris Paul to Houston, along with James Harden and Trevor Ariza.

Brown’s contract with the Rockets expired in June, and he didn’t receive a qualifying offer from the club to make him a restricted free agent, so his efforts to get Paul to Houston looked a little unusual. It makes sense that the club would be willing to bring him back on a minimum salary contract — it remains to be seen whether he’ll get a full or partial guarantee on his deal, however.

Celtics Sign Daniel Theis To Two-Year Deal

JULY 20: Theis made it official today with the Celtics, tweeting out a photo that shows him signing his contract with the team. “I’m so excited to join the Celtics family and to live in this great city!” Theis wrote. “I will work my heart out for Boston.”

JULY 1: The Celtics and German forward Daniel Theis are in agreement on a two-year contract, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. International basketball journalist David Pick first reported last month (via Twitter) that Theis would be joining the C’s on a deal that runs through 2018/2019.

Theis, 25, went undrafted in 2013 and his rights aren’t held by an NBA team, so he’ll join the Celtics as a free agent after his contract with Germany’s Brose Bamberg expired. In 41 German League games last season, Theis averaged 9.5 PPG and 5.7 RPG. He also appeared in 30 EuroLeague contests, recording 9.6 PPG and 4.6 RPG.

While exact details on Theis’ new deal haven’t been reported, the first year will be fully guaranteed, per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (via Twitter).

If it’s a minimum salary pact, which seems likely, it could be finalized before the moratorium ends, and it won’t affect the Celtics’ cap room, since Theis’ rookie minimum would have the same cap hit as the charge for an empty roster spot.

Cavaliers In Serious Talks With Derrick Rose

11:06am: The Cavs are believed to be offering Rose a minimum salary deal, per Windhorst and Wojnarowski in their full ESPN report.

10:23am: Free agent point guard Derrick Rose is engaged in “serious” discussions with the Cavaliers about a possible one-year deal, sources tell Brian Windhorst and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

The Cavs don’t have much cap flexibility to sign free agents, given how far their team salary currently is into tax territory. The club also used a little more than half of its $5.192MM mid-level exception to sign draft-and-stash prospect Cedi Osman, so if Rose were to come aboard, it would be for the rest of that MLE or the veteran’s minimum.

A minimum salary deal would be more advantageous for the Cavs, who face a substantial tax penalty for each additional dollar they spend. A one-year, minimum salary contract for Rose would pay him approximately $2.12MM, but would only count for about $1.47MM for cap purposes for Cleveland. A minimum salary deal would cost about an extra $7MM in tax penalties, based on the Cavs’ current team salary.

Whether Rose is willing to accept a minimum contract remains to be seen. He’s one of the top free agents still available, but the market for his services appears to be dwindling. Rose met with the Clippers earlier this month, but L.A. ultimately opted to sign Milos Teodosic to address the point guard spot. The Bucks seem to have been Rose’s most active suitor, having reportedly met with him twice. However, Milwaukee is inching closer to the tax line, limiting the club’s ability to make Rose an aggressive offer.

Rose, who turns 29 in October, is coming off a season in which he struggled with his outside shot more than ever (.217 3PT%) and wasn’t an elite distributor or defender. Still, he continues to display an ability to get to the rim and put the ball in the net, averaging 18.0 PPG in 64 games with the Knicks. The possibility of having him coming off the bench to provide a scoring punch for the Cavs is an intriguing idea.

Cleveland has already signed one backup for Kyrie Irving this summer, inking Jose Calderon to a minimum salary contract. While the team doesn’t necessarily need more depth at the position, Calderon and Rose possess very different skill-sets, so both could see playing time if Rose signs.

The news of the Cavs’ discussions with Rose arrives in the wake of Irving suggesting the team is in “a peculiar place,” and also comes just days after a report indicated that LeBron James is concerned about the club’s offseason.

Pacers, Damien Wilkins Agree To Deal

9:08am: Wilkins’ deal will be non-guaranteed, tweets Nate Taylor of The Indianapolis Star. That suggests the 37-year-old won’t be assured of a regular season roster spot.

8:44am: Veteran swingman Damien Wilkins is making an NBA comeback, according to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders, who reports (via Twitter) that Wilkins and the Pacers have agreed to a one-year deal. It will be a veteran’s minimum contract, per Scotto.

Wilkins, 37, has 563 career regular season games on his NBA résumé, but hasn’t played in the league since he spent the 2012/13 campaign with the Sixers. Since then, Wilkins has bounced around various international and G League clubs, most recently spending the 2016/17 campaign with the Greensboro Swarm.

In 48 games last season for Charlotte’s G League affiliate, Wilkins averaged 14.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 3.8 APG, with a shooting line of .486/.358/.844.

While I wouldn’t expect Wilkins to have a substantial role for the Pacers in 2017/18, he’ll provide some veteran stability on a roster that has undergone significant changes this offseason, assuming he earns a spot on the 15-man regular season roster.

Having lost Paul George, Jeff Teague, and C.J. Miles, Indiana has added Darren Collison, Victor Oladipo, Cory Joseph, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Domantas Sabonis this summer.

Spurs To Sign Matt Costello To Two-Way Deal

The Spurs are set to sign Summer League standout Matt Costello to a two-way contract, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link). It will be the first two-way deal in the franchise’s history.

A Michigan State alum, Costello went undrafted in 2016, but caught on with the Hawks and spent training camp with the club. The big man didn’t make Atlanta’s regular season roster, but was signed – and then waived again – by the Grizzlies at the end of the preseason so that Memphis could gain his G League rights. Costello ultimately spent the season with Iowa, averaging 9.5 PPG and 10.3 RPG in 23 contests.

Costello showed off his rebounding prowess again this summer in Las Vegas, as his 12.0 RPG led all players in Summer League action. The 23-year-old played for the Timberwolves’ squad in Summer League, and according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link), Minnesota also had significant interest in locking up Costello to a two-way contract. However, he’ll make the move to San Antonio, and figures to spend much of 2017/18 with the Austin Spurs.

For more information on how two-way contracts work and how much they pay, be sure to check out our FAQ.

Western Notes: Russell, Crawford, Mbah a Moute

Several teams were interested in trading for D’Angelo Russell, according to Lakers team president Magic Johnson, which was something that gave the front office confidence in trade talks.

“Like five teams called for D’Angelo [so] we knew that we could move D’Angelo for one of the pieces that we were looking for. So we decided on Brooklyn, they got a great player in D’Angelo and we got what we wanted,” Johnson said (via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com).

Johnson added that it wasn’t difficult moving on from the former No. 2 overall pick. “I am not one of them dudes,” Johnson added. “When I say bye, that’s it. I keep moving. I can’t get caught in emotions and all that. That is not who I am. We moved and we kept moving. After that trade we went on to the next thing.”

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Jamal Crawford said he consulted former Wolves guard Zach LaVine before signing with Minnesota, as Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune shares. “He loved Minnesota, absolutely loved. Obviously, it’s cold, but he said it’s a great city, great people. He enjoyed playing for Coach Thibs,” Crawford said.
  • Luc Mbah a Moute, who officially signed with the Rockets earlier today, is excited to play under coach Mike D’Antoni, as Mark Berman of Fox 26 relays (Twitter link). “The environment that he creates is very much like a family,” the small forward said of D’Antoni. “It’s exciting.”
  • Despite his up-and-down stint with the Lakers, Nick Young said he may come back to the team to retire when it’s time to hang up his jersey, Mark Medina of the Orange County Register passes along. “I love LA. I might be back and retire here one day,” said Young. “I’ll come back with Kobe, MJ, and LeBron (James).”
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