He spent the bulk of last season with the Sixers’ G League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats. averaging 13.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 2.5 APG in 27 appearances, including eight starts. Henry participated in mini-camps with the Knicks as well as the Jazz after the regular season but didn’t land an NBA contract.
All four of the 2021/22 Conference Finalists — the Warriors, Mavericks, Celtics and Heat — proved how far the Jazz are from contending for a championship, Sarah Todd of The Deseret News opines.
Todd notes that head coach Quin Snyder, whose status remains uncertain for next season, said Utah was very close to competing at the highest level at his end-of-season press conference.
“This year, I thought that our record didn’t necessarily reflect what we could do in the playoffs. I felt like we were this close to having a spark and kicking it in and finding that unity, that extra secret sauce, and taking off. And obviously that didn’t happen,” Snyder said, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune.
Todd disagrees. Even assuming the Jazz had advanced past Dallas in the first round (they lost in six games), Todd is doubtful the Jazz would have been able to take the Suns to seven games in the second round, as Dallas was able to do.
She also doesn’t think the Jazz would have fared any better than the Mavs did against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, if they’d gotten past Phoenix.
Ultimately, the Todd believes the flawed roster was too much to overcome, and Utah’s front office will have a tough job improving it this summer.
Here’s more from Utah:
- As our JD Shaw previously reported, the Jazz held a free agent mini-camp on Tuesday featuring a couple of G League standouts. Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune provides (via Twitter) the full list of 18 participants, many of whom have NBA experience: Tyler Johnson, Wes Iwundu, Patrick McCaw, Allen Crabbe, Alize Johnson, Chris Silva, Louis King, T.J. Leaf, Deividas Sirvydis, Aaron Henry, Carlik Jones, Derrick Alston, Isaiah Miller, Jared Wilson-Frame, Kevon Harris, and Tyrique Jones.
- The Jazz don’t control a pick in the upcoming draft at the moment, but they’re still working out 12 prospects on Thursday, according to Larsen (Twitter links). The first group features Texas Tech’s Adonis Arms, Mississippi State’s Iverson Molinar, St. John’s swingman Julian Champagnie, Kentucky’s Kellan Grady, Arkansas’ Stanley Umude, and Loyola Chicago’s Lucas Williamson. The second group will be Michigan’s Eli Brooks, Illinois’ Austin Hutcherson, Charlie Moore and Kameron McGusty of Miami (FL), Bowling Green’s Daeqwon Plowden, and Georgia Tech’s Jordan Usher. Champagnie and Molinar are Nos. 75 and No. 83 on ESPN’s big board, respectively.
- After working out for the Wizards earlier today, Illinois center Kofi Cockburn told reporters that he has a workout lined up with the Jazz as well (Twitter link via Josh Robbins of The Athletic). He’s No. 85 on ESPN’s board.
The Knicks held a free agent mini-camp this week, according to Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog (Twitter link), who says a number of players with NBA experience were in attendance.
Guards Devon Dotson and Chris Clemons, swingman DaQuan Jeffries, forwards Louis King and George King, and big men Alize Johnson and Reggie Perry were among the players who participated in the Knicks’ mini-camp, per Zagoria. John Petty, Craig Randall, Carlik Jones, Aaron Henry, and A.J. Lawson also took part.
The Knicks won’t necessarily sign any of the free agents who attended the mini-camp, but it gave them a chance to see some of the talent that’s out there as they mull possible Summer League and training camp invites.
Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:
- Celtics big man Robert Williams, who is still listed as questionable for Game 6 on Friday, was diagnosed with a bone bruise in his left knee after colliding with Giannis Antetokounmpo in Game 3, head coach Ime Udoka said today. Williams’ injured knee is the same one he had surgery on in March, but that procedure isn’t the cause of his current absence. “There’s no problems with the surgery at all,” Udoka said, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN. “It’s just that specific hit that he took (in Game 3).”
- Because of the injury-related language and games-played requirements in Jonathan Isaac‘s contract with the Magic, his $17.4MM annual salaries for the next three years are now partially guaranteed instead of fully guaranteed, as Keith Smith of Spotrac tweets. Isaac has missed two straight seasons due to an ACL tear, but there’s no indication that the Magic are considering waiving him, which is the only way they could avoid paying his full salaries.
- Bobby Portis only shot 4-of-14 from the floor in the Bucks‘ Game 5 win on Wednesday, but he grabbed 15 rebounds and made the sort of crucial hustle plays the team values, writes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Averaging a double-double (11.3 PPG, 10.4 RPG) so far this postseason, Portis is once again displaying his value ahead of possible free agency. He holds a $4.6MM player option for 2022/23.
4:17pm: The Sixers have officially signed Brown to a two-way contract and waived Henry, the team announced in a press release.
4:00pm: The Sixers will retain guard Charlie Brown Jr. beyond his current 10-day hardship deal, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that Brown will receive a two-way contract from the team. Philadelphia is waiving forward Aaron Henry to open up a two-way slot for Brown, Charania adds.
Brown is a Philadelphia native who played his college ball at Saint Joseph’s. He has bounced around the NBA and G League since going undrafted in 2019, spending time with Atlanta, Oklahoma City, Dallas, and Philadelphia at the NBA level and playing for the College Park Skyhawks, Iowa Wolves, and Delaware Blue Coats in the NBAGL.
Brown began this season with Delaware, averaging 16.8 PPG, 8.1 RPG, and 1.6 SPG on .457/.400/.850 shooting in 11 games (30.2 MPG). That earned him 10-day hardship deals with the Mavs and Sixers.
He has appeared in two games since signing his 10-day contract with Philadelphia on January 3, averaging 2.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 2.0 SPG in 17.5 MPG.
Henry, who went undrafted out of Michigan State in 2021, logged just 17 total minutes in six NBA games for Philadelphia on his two-way deal. In 10 G League contests for Delaware, he recorded 13.2 PPG and 4.9 RPG on .431/.327/.500 shooting. The 22-year-old will be free to sign with any team if he clears waivers.
Brown’s current 10-day deal won’t expire until Wednesday night, but the Sixers could terminate it early if they want to move him into his newly-earned two-way slot sooner rather than later.
The Sixers have the best record in the Eastern Conference, but they’re starting to feel the effects of a depleted roster, writes Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. Joel Embiid‘s positive COVID-19 test was the latest challenge for a team that is already playing without Ben Simmons and has seen Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle and Isaiah Joe also sidelined by the virus.
The result has been an increased workload for the remaining rotation players, which is raising concerns about fatigue. Tonight’s game against the Bucks will be the second of a back-to-back, and coach Doc Rivers said he plans to use at least 10 players. Neubeck expects Jaden Springer and two-way player Aaron Henry to both see action, but probably not Charles Bassey, who has only played seven total minutes this season.
There’s more on the Sixers:
- Andre Drummond, who was signed over the summer to be Embiid’s backup, turned in his best game of the season Monday night, Neubeck adds. Drummond collected 25 rebounds in a loss to the Knicks, becoming the first Sixer to reach that total in 34 years. He played more than 38 minutes, but doesn’t seem fazed by the increased workload. “Sleep, sleep as much as we can,” Drummond said. “Take care of our bodies, ice, compress our knees. Guys that have played a lot of games know how to take care of their body. I’ve played a long time, we know what it takes to sustain our bodies for the rest of the year.”
- Because Embiid is symptomatic for COVID-19, there are concerns that his absence could stretch beyond the normal 10 days, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Pompey notes that Embiid has historically found it difficult to stay in shape when not playing, so having him out of the lineup could impact the Sixers well into the future. “Obviously, this is an extreme case without Joel,” Rivers said. “We didn’t anticipate this. But, we do have a bona fide starting center. And that helps us for sure.”
- Philadelphia has reportedly talked to at least 10 teams about trading for Simmons, but sources tell Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report there have been “very few firm offers.” Most of the talks have involved setting up two-team and three-team frameworks that the Sixers might accept, but president of basketball operations Daryl Morey hasn’t dropped his insistence on receiving a star player in return.
With Damian Lillard heading home from the Olympics, the most important part of the Sixers‘ offseason is getting under way, writes Derek Bodner of The Athletic. President of basketball operations Daryl Morey is hoping Lillard makes his long-rumored trade request to the Trail Blazers, and Bodner believes Philadelphia is in a good position if that happens.
Lillard held a press conference last month to deny a report that a trade request was imminent. However, he has expressed an urgency to Portland’s management about the need to improve the roster, and the Blazers’ most significant additions so far have been the free agent signings of Tony Snell, Cody Zeller, and Ben McLemore.
Bodner adds that two potential competitors for Lillard are less of a threat than they were a few weeks ago. The Knicks used their cap space without acquiring another star player, while the Heat added Kyle Lowry and are now facing a hard cap for the upcoming season. It would be virtually impossible for Miami to match Lillard’s $43.75MM salary in a trade anytime soon, according to Bodner.
There’s more from Philadelphia:
- The Sixers will receive a financial benefit now that George Hill has signed with the Bucks, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Hill, who was waived by Philadelphia on Tuesday, received a two-year, $8MM contract in Milwaukee. The Sixers will get a $1.255MM set-off on the money they still owed Hill, which will take effect after the 2021/22 season.
- Rookie small forward Aaron Henry was more comfortable finding a team in free agency than he would have been as a late-round draft pick, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Henry agreed to a two-way contract with the Sixers shortly after the draft ended and is ready to prove himself in Summer League. A quadriceps strain forced him to be held out of the combine in Chicago, but he worked out for 12 teams in 19 days. One of those sessions was with the Sixers, who liked what they saw. “Since we got him, you can see his versatility,” said assistant Brian Adams, who’s handling head coaching duties for the Summer League team. “He can defend multiple positions. He can defend one-on-one and in the schemes we have. He’s picked up everything really fast.”
- Sixers first-round pick Jaden Springer hopes to succeed with the same franchise that drafted his father in 1984, Pompey adds in a separate story. A knee injury prevented Gary Springer from playing in the NBA, but he believes his son has a bright future.
AUGUST 8: The Sixers have officially signed Henry to his two-way deal, the team announced today in a press release.
The 6’6″ junior forward was named to the 2020/21 All-Defensive Team and 2020/21 All-Big Ten Third Team. He had a breakout final collegiate season, averaging career highs in points (15.4), rebounds (5.6), assists (3.6) and steals (1.3) over 28 games, including 26 starts.
Henry, 21, holds a career NCAA shooting line of .493/.333/.762. His three-point shooting took a dip in his final season with the Spartans, however, as he converted just 29.6% of his 2.9 long-range attempts per night. He is listed fourth on ESPN’s ranking of undrafted NBA prospects.
The Sixers have had an active draft night. They selected Tennessee guard Jaden Springer in the first round, plus 6’11” Adriatic League forward Filip Petrusev and Western Kentucky center Charles Bassey in the second round.
All free agent contracts, including for two-way players, cannot be officially signed until the new league year officially starts.
While it doesn’t look at this point like the Trail Blazers will seriously explore Damian Lillard trades this offseason, that doesn’t mean they’re not getting calls about their All-NBA point guard. Front office sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer that the Heat, Kings, Knicks, Rockets, and Sixers have been the most aggressive suitors for Lillard as of late.
With no Lillard trade request imminent, the Blazers are more likely to pursue upgrades around the star guard, though O’Connor notes that the team’s trade assets are somewhat limited. Portland doesn’t have any draft picks this year and rival teams aren’t particularly high on young players like Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little, according to O’Connor. The club’s best bet for a deal that reshapes the roster and increases its ceiling might involve CJ McCollum and Ben Simmons, O’Connor adds.
Here’s more from around the Northwest:
- Former WNBA guard Edniesha Curry has joined Chauncey Billups‘ new Trail Blazers coaching staff, tweets Jason Quick of The Athletic. Curry had been an assistant for the men’s basketball team at the University of Maine since 2018.
- When Juan Hernangomez dislocated his left shoulder earlier this month, it appeared to end his chances of playing for Spain at the Tokyo Olympics. However, Spain’s final 12-man roster for the games includes the Timberwolves forward, a signal that Hernangomez’s injury isn’t as serious as initially believed. Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press has the story.
- The Nuggets brought in Miles McBride, Joshua Primo, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Alan Griffin, Damien Jefferson, and Zaccheus Darko-Kelly for a pre-draft workout on Monday, then hosted David Duke, Jalen Crutcher, Aaron Henry, Colbey Ross, Terry Taylor, and Ethan Thompson for a group workout on Tuesday, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter links).
There are positive signs that Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri plans to sign an extension, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca reports. He’s conducting business as usual, focusing on the draft and free agency. A player agent told Grange “he’s coming back” and another source at the recent combine said Ujiri was acting as if he’s “on a mission to win another title.”
Ujiri is technically a free agent this summer and there are still some concerns another franchise, such as the Clippers, could swoop in at the last minute and try to woo him away. But for now a return to the Raptors is expected.
We have more on the Raptors:
- Coach Nick Nurse’s former agent has filed a civil lawsuit against him, claiming breach of contract, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Warren LeGarie is seeking financial relief, claiming he had a contract with Nurse through the 2023/24 season. Nurse, who is now represented by Andy Miller, agreed to a contract extension in September. According to the suit, Nurse’s salary for this season was readjusted to the $6-8MM range and the four-year extension was worth $32MM. LeGarie is seeking a commission for the portion of the contract he claims he negotiated.
- The team owns the No. 46 and 47 overall picks in this month’s draft and Blake Murphy of The Athletic examines six wing players it could take with those second-round selections. The group includes Michigan State’s Aaron Henry and Florida’s Scottie Lewis.
- In case you missed it, Murphy examined the logistics this week of a potential trade with the Warriors involving Pascal Siakam.
Justin Bean (Utah State), Eric Ayala (Maryland), Jeenathan Williams (Buffalo), Latrell Jones (Portland), Quentin Scott (Texas State), and De’Vion Harmon (Oklahoma) are all withdrawing from the 2021 NBA draft after testing the waters as early entrants, according to a series of reports from Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports and Jeff Goodman of Stadium (all six links go to Twitter).
Of those six players, three will transfer, with Jones heading to Nicholls State, Scott making the move to Tulane, and Harmon going to Oregon.
Meanwhile, Texas big man Jericho Sims, who boosted his stock with a strong showing at last week’s combine, will remain in the draft. Klutch Sports published a tweet today welcoming Sims to the agency. UCLA’s Chris Smith is also expected to go pro, per Goodman (Twitter link).
Here’s more on the draft:
- Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report passes along several of the latest draft-related tidbits he has heard, including mixed opinions from scouts on Jalen Johnson and Davion Mitchell. Wasserman says Houston’s Quentin Grimes has improved his stock drastically as of late and is being talked about as a possible first-round pick.
- Michigan State wing Aaron Henry suffered a quad strain during last week’s combine and is day-to-day, agent Dan Frank tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). The plan is for Henry to resume workouts within a week, per Givony, who says the former Spartan may attend the Minnesota group workout next week if he’s healthy enough.
- In addition to JT Thor, whose workout was previously reported, Tre Mann, Eugene Omoruyi, Joshua Primo, DJ Steward, and Marcus Zegarowski are auditioning today for the Pacers, per a press release from the team.
- Besides Indiana, Primo is scheduled for workouts with the Pelicans, Hornets, Spurs, and Thunder, a source tells Wasserman (Twitter link). The draft’s youngest prospect, Primo is “firmly” in the first-round picture, Wasserman adds.
- Howard center Makur Maker is working out today for the Bulls, according to Adam Zagoria of Forbes (Twitter link).