Month: May 2024

Pacific Notes: Vincent, Primo, Gay, McGruder, Suns

In an interview with Mark Medina of Sportskeeda, Gabe Vincent said he isn’t upset that Lakers coach Darvin Ham has already chosen D’Angelo Russell as his starting point guard. Vincent is only a few months removed from starting for the Heat in the NBA Finals, but he’s willing to accept a reserve role with his new team.

“That’s something for D-Ham to worry about,” Vincent said. “I’m not the coach. I don’t set lineups. I just go out there and do my job. I’ll do whatever I can to help this team win games and help this organization win games. As I’ve seen in the past, every night doesn’t always look the same. With that big picture in mind with trying to help us win, I’ll wear whatever hat is needed.”

L.A. signed Vincent to a three-year contract worth $33MM, so he’s obviously in the team’s plans even if he won’t start right away. Vincent had several options in free agency, but he liked the idea of playing for Ham because they have similar backgrounds.

“I think it’s just in general his route,” Vincent said. “I think there are some similarities between me and him in that regard and his journey. He spent some time in the G League as did I. There are some similarities that we have naturally, even when we sit down and talk the game and catch up. It’s seamless. We get along well. D Ham has been great. He’s been very real. So I definitely have appreciated him early in this process.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

Bucks Notes: Lillard, Giannis, Roster Spot, Holiday

Pairing Damian Lillard with Giannis Antetokounmpo should create plenty of scoring opportunities for the rest of the Bucks‘ offense, writes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Both players averaged better than 30 points per game last season, so while they’ll have to figure out how to mesh their talents, they provide plenty of individual firepower.

Lillard is a reliable shot maker who will cause opponents to be more reluctant about sagging into the lane to guard Antetokounmpo. Outside shooters Malik Beasley, Pat Connaughton and A.J. Green should all get better looks by playing alongside Lillard, Owczarski notes, while Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis become more dangerous in pick-and-pop actions.

Exchanging Jrue Holiday for Lillard will lead to a drop-off defensively, but Owczarski points out that new head coach Adrian Griffin is installing a system that emphasizes help. With Antetokounmpo and Lopez protecting the rim, the Bucks may be able to cover up Lillard’s shortcomings on defense.

There’s more from Milwaukee:

  • The Bucks sent Grayson Allen to Phoenix in the three-team deal, leaving them with 14 guaranteed contracts and the ability to make a roster addition, Owczarski adds. He notes that the team doesn’t have a reserve point guard with a guaranteed deal, so that might be a priority. Backups Lindell Wigginton and TyTy Washington both have two-way contracts. Milwaukee doesn’t control any of its first-round picks until 2031, so it will be difficult to improve the roster through any more trades.
  • Hundreds of fans waited for hours outside Fiserv Forum on Saturday for a chance to welcome Lillard to Milwaukee, according to Jack Baer of Yahoo Sports. Lillard acknowledged the crowd, but he didn’t say anything as he walked inside to meet his new team. The Bucks posted a video of Lillard taking a few shots inside the arena.
  • Holiday offered a farewell message on Instagram after the trade became official, per JR Radcliffe of The Journal-Sentinel. “Thank you fans! For those who know me best, they know we are all about family,” Holiday wrote. “Milwaukee — you welcomed me and my family into your city, into your homes, into your hearts. We will forever be champions together, and me and my family will forever be grateful and thankful. Until next time, thanks for everything.”

Kings Sign, Waive James Akinjo

10:00pm: The Kings have waived Akinjo, per RealGM’s transactions log.

3:02pm: The Kings have signed free agent guard James Akinjo to a training camp deal, a league source tells Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link). The signing is official, according to RealGM’s transactions log.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but training camp contracts typically feature an Exhibit 10 clause. If that’s the case here, Akinjo would receive a $75K bonus if he’s waived before the season starts and spends at least 60 days with the Sacramento’s NBA G League affiliate in Stockton.

A couple weeks ago, Stockton acquired Akinjo’s returning player rights in a G League trade with the Westchester Knicks. That strongly suggests his new contract was designed for him to head to Stockton in 2023/24.

A 6’1″ point guard, Akinjo played four college seasons with Georgetown, Arizona and Baylor, respectively, prior to going undrafted in 2022. He signed an Exhibit 10 deal with the Knicks last fall and was waived prior to ’22/23.

Akinjo, 22, averaged 14.4 PPG, 6.3 APG, 3.3 RPG and 1.3 SPG in 20 regular season games (29.4 MPG) with Westchester last season, posting a .439/.340/.769 shooting line.

The Kings now have 20 players under contract.

Wolves Notes: Edwards, KAT, Anderson, McDaniels

Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns developed a chemistry on offense that helped the Timberwolves reach the playoffs in 2022, but that connection was missing last season, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. The obvious reason, according to Hine, is that both players were trying to adjust their games to incorporate Rudy Gobert. Rekindling the connection between Edwards and Towns will be a priority in training camp.

“The key for us is to recapture the chemistry that Ant and KAT have always had,” coach Chris Finch said. “I’m not overly concerned about that, but because we played in a very different rhythm for most of the season, when Karl came back, that two-man game between him and Ant wasn’t as prevalent as it needs to be or should be.”

Towns missed much of the season with a calf injury, which slowed down any progress he and Edwards might have made in figuring out the best way to utilize Gobert. Edwards expects things to be different now that they’ve all had time to work together.

“We’re going to see it this year, man,” Edwards said. “KAT, he’s super healthy. He’s feeling good. I’m feeling good, so I think it should be fun. As long as we stay healthy, I think it should be super fun to see how we start to jell together, try to get back to where we was probably two years ago.”

There’s more from Minnesota:

  • Kyle Anderson was worried that his career might be over after suffering an injury to his left eye in the playoffs, but he’s almost completely recovered after offseason surgery, according to Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune. At Thursday’s media day, Anderson said he still can’t see well in the dark, but otherwise his vision is normal. “It was obviously rough like early July, late June,” he said. “I’m playing pickup in these small New Jersey gyms, it’s dark, and I can’t see a thing. But it’s gotten a lot better now. I’m sure an NBA arena, with great lighting, it should be fine.”
  • The Wolves opened training camp on Friday without an extension for Jaden McDaniels, notes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. The 23-year-old forward, who’s gaining a reputation as an elite defender, said he’s more focused on basketball than his contract. “I know the contract thing is there,” McDaniels said, “but I just try to let my agents handle it and continue to get better as a player.”
  • The Wolves are emphasizing maturity after failures in that area derailed last season, Hine adds in a separate story. McDaniels wasn’t available for the playoffs because he broke his hand by punching a wall, and Gobert was suspended for the play-in opener after taking a swing at Anderson on the bench in the final regular season game. “Our lack of organizational success is very evident and clear,” team president Tim Connelly said. “So until we take ourselves more seriously, no one else will take us more seriously. There’s been a very loud mandate and risen bar about how we handle ourselves.”

Celtics Notes: Griffin, Williams, Brogdon, Brown, Tatum

The Celtics have interest in re-signing Blake Griffin, but the 34-year-old big man is considering retirement, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Speaking at a youth basketball camp this week, president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said the organization was thrilled with Griffin’s contributions last season. Even though he only played in 41 games, Griffin made an impact as a veteran leader.

“I’m not blowing smoke, it was as good as it gets,” Stevens said. “He was unbelievable when he played and even better when he didn’t. He has a fan for life from everybody in our organization. You know, if he decides to keep playing, he wants to come back out East, he knows we’re a phone call away.”

Stevens also told the campers it wasn’t easy to convince Griffin to join the team last fall. The Celtics were looking for someone to fill in for center Robert Williams, who missed the early part of the season with an injury, and Stevens was candid about the potential lack of playing time once he returned. Griffin initially turned down the offer, but agreed when Stevens made a second phone call.

Stevens touched on a few more topics, according to Washburn:

  • The Celtics consider this a pivotal season for Williams, who has been bothered by injuries throughout his career. Even though Boston can turn to Kristaps Porzingis, Al Horford and Luke Kornet when Williams is unavailable, Stevens believes they’re “a different team” with Williams on the court. “He’s not an old guy, but he’s not a rookie anymore,” Stevens said. “He’s six years in now and this is the time where guys make leaps and make jumps. He showed his defensive versatility a couple of years ago. His offensive threat at the rim and his rebounding is as good as it gets, and the keys for him are to be available as much as possible and to be able play as long as spurts as possible.”
  • Stevens confirmed that he and other Celtics officials talked to Malcolm Brogdon after he was nearly sent to the Clippers in the Porzingis trade, just like they had discussions with Jaylen Brown after he was rumored to be part of an offer for Kevin Durant last summer. “Some stuff has been talked about with the Brogdon stuff, you just have conversations about it,” Stevens said. “You understand why a person would feel angry about that. But at the same time, that’s why you have those conversations. You work together. Obviously, in almost all scenarios, you’re talking about unbelievable players on all sides. That’s the other part of the recognition being discussed.”
  • Stevens also acknowledged the need for Brown and Jayson Tatum to take over as team leaders after Marcus Smart was traded to Memphis. “I think Marcus is a good leader and we have a lot of other good leaders in that locker room, too,” Stevens said. “Everybody does it through their own personality and their own way. We talked about it several times three, four, five years ago, is one of the keys to our whole program will be when Jaylen and Jayson get to 25, 26 and 27, being two of the best leaders in the league, and they’re there. I think they will without question (lead) and they were already.”

Grizzlies Sign Mulder, Hurt; Waive Christopher, Todd

The Grizzlies have signed guard Mychal Mulder and forward Matthew Hurt, the team announced on Twitter. Guard Josh Christopher and forward Isaiah Todd were waived to make room on the roster.

Mulder, 29, has 84 games of NBA experience with the Warriors, Magic and Heat. He spent last season in the G League with Sioux Falls, where he led the league by making 129 three-pointers.

Hurt, 23, played for the Grizzlies’ G League affiliate last season, averaging 13.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 45 G League Showcase and regular season games with the Memphis Hustle.

The Grizzlies acquired Christopher from the Rockets in the five-team trade in July that sent Dillon Brooks to Houston. Christopher, 21, was the 24th pick in the 2021 draft and averaged 6.9 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 138 games during his two seasons with the Rockets. Christopher’s $2.5MM salary for the upcoming season is guaranteed, so Memphis will be on the hook for the full amount unless he’s claimed on waivers.

Todd, 21, spent the past two seasons with the Wizards and came to Memphis in July in a trade with the Suns. His $1.8MM salary for 2023/24 is also guaranteed.

Today’s moves should clarify the Grizzlies’ roster situation heading into training camp. With Christopher and Todd gone, Memphis is down to 15 fully guaranteed contracts.

Spurs Buy Out Reggie Bullock

6:23pm: The Spurs announced that Bullock has been waived, McDonald tweets.

4:09pm: The Spurs and veteran swingman Reggie Bullock have reached an agreement on a contract buyout, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Several contending teams are expected to pursue Bullock once he clears waivers, Charania adds.

There’s no word on how much money Bullock gave up in the buyout, but he had one year remaining on his contract at $10.5MM.

There was speculation that Bullock might be competing for a roster spot with Cedi Osman, who was acquired from the Cavaliers during the offseason, according to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Bullock’s departure seems to increase Osman’s chances of staying with the team, McDonald adds.

San Antonio acquired Bullock in July as part of the three-team deal that sent Grant Williams from Boston to Dallas. The Spurs also received the option to swap first-round picks with the Mavericks in 2030. Because of the trade, Dallas is the only team that won’t be eligible to sign Bullock once he becomes a free agent.

Bullock, 32, spent the past two seasons with Dallas, serving as a part-time starter. His scoring average fell to 7.2 PPG last season, the lowest since 2018/19, but he still shot 38% from three-point range. It’s his ability to stretch defenses that will make him popular on the open market.

The Spurs were Bullock’s seventh team in his 10 NBA seasons. The Clippers made him the 25th overall pick in 2015, but the only place he stayed for more than two years was Detroit.

The move eases the roster crunch for San Antonio, which has 16 players remaining on guaranteed contracts. At least one of them will have to be waived or traded before opening night.

Draymond Green Out 4-To-6 Weeks With Sprained Ankle

Draymond Green has suffered a left ankle sprain that could sideline him for up to six weeks, tweets Jason Dumas of KRON4 News. It’s not a high ankle sprain, Dumas adds, and more information is expected to be revealed Monday at the Warriors‘ media day.

The injury happened during a pickup game this week at Chase Center, a source tells Kendra Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link).

I dodged a bullet and learned that today by the way it’s (positively) reacting,” Green told Marc J. Spears of Andscape (Twitter link). “Even with an MRI you don’t see the trend of it immediately. The swelling is down.”

Green added that he expects to be sidelined for four to six weeks. That means he’ll miss all of training camp and the preseason and he’s not likely to be available when Golden State hosts the Suns to open the regular season on October 24.

It’s a tough break for a Warriors team that relies heavily on the defense and play-making that Green provides. His absence could mean a greater early-season role for Jonathan Kuminga, as well as offseason addition Dario Saric.

Injuries have become more common for the 33-year-old Green, who is preparing for his 12th NBA season. He battled through a series of physical issues while playing 73 games last season and was limited to 46 games in 2021/22 because of a back ailment.

Juan Toscano-Anderson Signs With Mexico City Capitanes

Forward Juan Toscano-Anderson has signed a G League contract with the Mexico City Capitanes, the team announced (via Twitter).

Despite the move, Toscano-Anderson remains an NBA free agent. G League deals don’t impact NBA rights.

A four-year NBA veteran, Toscano-Anderson worked out for the Warriors last month after spending last season with the Lakers and Jazz. He was sent to Utah in February as part of a blockbuster trade.

Toscano-Anderson, who played college ball at Marquette, spent his first three NBA seasons with Golden State, winning a championship as a role player in ’21/22. For his career, he has averaged 4.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 191 regular season games (37 starts, 16.1 minutes), with a shooting slash line of .506/.331/.646.

The 30-year-old swingman is Mexican-American and played professionally in Mexico after going undrafted in 2015, so it will be a reunion of sorts for Toscano-Anderson. The Capitanes are one of two unaffiliated teams in the G League, along with the Ignite.

Pacers Sign, Waive Elfrid Payton, Jordan Bell

SEPTEMBER 30: The Pacers have waived both Payton and Jordan Bell, per a press release. Bell was also signed to an Exhibit 10 contract. Indiana now has 18 players on its roster.

SEPTEMBER 29: The Pacers have signed free agent point guard Elfrid Payton, the team announced in a press release.

While the terms of the deal were not disclosed, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files tweets that the deal was designed for Payton to return to the Mad Ants, Indiana’s NBA G League affiliate. That strongly suggests Payton received an Exhibit 10 contract, which would entitle him to a bonus worth up to $75K if he’s waived before the season starts and spends at least 60 days with the Mad Ants.

A former lottery pick (10th overall in 2014), Payton appeared in 500 regular season games over eight seasons with the Magic, Suns (twice), Pelicans and Knicks. His last NBA stint came back in 2021/22 with Phoenix, when he averaged a career-low 11.0 minutes over 50 games with the Suns.

Last season, Payton had a brief stint playing professionally in Puerto Rico before joining the Mad Ants to finish out the campaign. In 10 regular season games (20.5 minutes) with the Mad Ants, the 29-year-old averaged 7.9 points, 6.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals, with a subpar .424/.286/.333 shooting line.

Payton reportedly had workouts with the Hornets and Timberwolves this offseason, but was unable to find an NBA contract. Instead, he’ll reportedly be heading back to the Mad Ants to open ’23/24.

The Pacers now have 20 players under contract, including 15 on guaranteed standard deals and all three two-way slots filled.