Eastern Notes: I. Smith, Strus, Hawks, Bulls, Dosunmu

Ish Smith‘s new contract with the Hornets is a one-year, minimum-salary deal that is fully non-guaranteed, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Although Smith didn’t sign in the offseason, his salary won’t be prorated, since he finalized his deal on the very first day of the regular season. That means if he remains under contract through January 7, 2024, which would guarantee his full salary, he’ll make $3,196,448 while the Hornets carry a cap hit of $2,019,706. Until then, he’ll earn $18,370 per day, with no assurances for the full season.

Smith is one of three Hornets players without a fully guaranteed salary — Frank Ntilikina and JT Thor are also on non-guaranteed contracts.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Max Strus‘ debut with the Cavaliers couldn’t have gone much better, as the club’s new starting small forward racked up 27 points and a career-high 12 rebounds in Wednesday’s win over Brooklyn. “I wish I could guarantee that every night, but I don’t think it’s going to be like that,” Strus said after the game, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “I think we have so many talented guys on this roster. It’s going to be anybody’s night any given game. One through 15, anybody can step up and play for us. That’s when our team is going to be very successful when we’re all enjoying each other’s success, and everybody is chipping in.”
  • After Jalen Johnson, De’Andre Hunter, and Saddiq Bey each played at least 29 minutes in the Hawks’ regular season opener, head coach Quin Snyder stressed that he expects all three forwards to get regular playing time and that he doesn’t necessarily need to roll with just two of them at the expense of the third. “It’s not a binary question of Jalen or Saddiq,” Snyder said (Twitter link via Brad Rowland of Locked on Hawks). “Maybe tonight will make that clear.”
  • While he acknowledged that a blowout loss at home – followed by a players-only meeting – wasn’t exactly a great way to start the season, Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan said the important thing is how the team bounces back in its second game on Friday, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “You can sit up there and have a million conversations about something,” DeRozan said. “But it’s about how you respond and the mindset that I know how everybody came in here (to practice) with, how they feel. That’s how I know for a fact (Friday) will not be like (Wednesday). I can guarantee you that.”
  • The NBA has recognized Ayo Dosunmu for his work off the court, naming the Bulls guard the winner of the NBA Cares Bob Lanier Community Assist award, the league announced on Thursday in a press release.
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