Abdel Nader

Suns To Guarantee Abdel Nader’s Salary

Abdel Nader‘s salary for the 2020/21 season is set to become fully guaranteed on Saturday, and the Suns won’t waive him before then, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link). As a result, the small forward’s $1,752,950 salary will be locked in for ’20/21.

The 58th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Nader played for the Celtics as a rookie and has spent the last two years in Oklahoma City. He averaged a career-high 15.8 minutes per game in 55 contests for the Thunder last season, recording 6.3 PPG and 1.8 RPG with a respectable .468/.375/.773 shooting line.

Traded from Oklahoma City to Phoenix last week, Nader was obviously overshadowed by that deal’s headliner, Chris Paul. However, based on Gambadoro’s report, it sounds like the 27-year-old in the Suns’ plans for the coming season.

Nader will provide depth on the wing for the new-look Suns, who have reportedly reached deals to sign Jae Crowder, Langston Galloway, E’Twaun Moore, and Damian Jones in free agency.

All-Star Guard Chris Paul Traded To Suns

8:07pm: The trade is official, per a Suns press release.


12:11pm:  The Suns and Thunder are finalizing an agreement on a trade that will send All-Star point guard Chris Paul from Oklahoma City to Phoenix, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), the Thunder will receive Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque, and draft compensation in the deal. Wojnarowski adds that the Suns will also get Abdel Nader in the blockbuster swap (Twitter link).

The draft pick being sent from Phoenix to Oklahoma City in the trade is the Suns’ 2022 first-rounder, per Wojnarowski. Charania reports (via Twitter) that the pick will be top-12 protected. If it doesn’t change hands in 2022, it’ll be top-10 protected in 2023, top-eight protected in 2024, and unprotected in 2025.

The Suns, whose interest in Paul was first reported last week, are hoping that the veteran guard can help the team build upon its 8-0 showing during the Orlando restart and make the postseason in 2020/21. Paul, who will reunite with his former Pelicans coach Monty Williams, will join an intriguing core that includes star guard Devin Booker, former No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton, and promising young wings Cameron Johnson and Mikal Bridges.

While bigger-market teams (like the Knicks) and stronger contenders (including the Bucks) were cited in recent weeks as potential suitors for CP3, the 35-year-old won’t object to joining the Suns. The Thunder worked with Paul and his reps at CAA to get him to a preferred destination, per Woj (Twitter link). A report last week suggested that Phoenix’s proximity to Los Angeles appealed to Paul, who has a home in the L.A. area.

Phoenix will complete the trade without using the No. 10 pick in this year’s draft, so the club will have the opportunity on Wednesday to add another young prospect to that group. The Suns also have a couple different directions they could go in free agency.

Remaining over the cap and attempting to bring back Dario Saric and Aron Baynes is one option for the organization — the other would be to let those free agents go to open up cap room, then using up that space before officially finalizing the deal for CP3. In that scenario, Phoenix would only have the $4.8MM room exception left over, whereas if the team remains over the cap, the mid-level ($9.3MM) and bi-annual ($3.6MM) could be in play.

Meanwhile, the Thunder appear to be shifting into full-fledged rebuilding mode after outperforming expectations in 2019/20. They’ve now reached deals to move both Paul and Dennis Schröder. Steven Adams remains a trade candidate, as are the veterans Oklahoma City will receive in the two agreed-upon trades (Rubio, Oubre, and Danny Green).

Having acquired a pair of first-round picks and two future pick swaps in last year’s Paul/Russell Westbrook trade, the Thunder were able to parlay CP3’s strong season (17.6 PPG, 6.7 APG, 5.0 RPG) into yet another first-round selection. The franchise now owns three 2022 first-rounders and holds multiple first-round picks every year through 2026, as Tommy Beer of Forbes details (via Twitter).

By taking on Paul’s contract, the Suns will be on the hook for his $41.4MM salary in 2020/21 and his $44.2MM player option for ’21/22. Nader has a minimum salary for ’20/21 which will remain non-guaranteed even after his team option is exercised to complete this trade.

As for the Thunder, they’ll take on Oubre’s expiring $14.4MM salary and will be on the hook for $34.8MM over two years for Rubio. Jerome, who has a $2.3MM cap charge in 2020/21, is in the second year of a rookie scale contract, while Lecque has a guaranteed $1.5MM salary for ’20/21 and a non-guaranteed $1.8MM for ’21/22.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Abdel Nader Placed In Concussion Protocol

Thunder forward Abdel Nader has entered the NBA’s concussion protocol, the team announced today in a press release. He suffered the concussion during Friday night’s scrimmage against the Celtics.

Under the league’s concussion policy, Nader must pass through a series of steps to prove he is free of symptoms before being permitted to resume basketball activities. There is no set timetable for a player to complete the protocol. Oklahoma City has one more scrimmage remaining before starting its seeding games next Saturday against the Jazz.

Nader has appeared in 48 games this season, making five starts, and is averaging 6.0 points and 1.9 rebounds in 15.8 minutes per night.

Northwest Notes: Bazley, Nuggets, Porter, Wolves

Thunder rookie Darius Bazley, who was ruled out for four-to-six weeks on February 10 due to a bone bruise in his knee, is likely healthy now, though the team hasn’t confirmed that, writes Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman.

As Tramel notes, however, it’s not clear whether Bazley would see much action for the Thunder this summer if the season resumes, whether or not he’s healthy. The 19-year-old forward was a regular rotation player for Oklahoma City before his injury, averaging 17.2 MPG in 53 contests, but Abdel Nader and – to a lesser extent – Hamidou Diallo played well in Bazley’s absence. With OKC likely shifting into postseason mode if and when play resumes, Tramel wonders if there will be room in the rotation for Bazley.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Colorado Governor Jared Polis told Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic in an interview this week that he intends to give the green light to sports leagues to play games (without fans) in the state once they’re ready to do so. Polis’ comments primarily focus on MLB’s Rockies and NFL’s Broncos, since the Nuggets are extremely unlikely to play games at their home arena before 2020/21. Still, it’s a promising sign for next season for Colorado’s lone NBA franchise.
  • After missing the entire 2018/19 season, Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. flashed some tantalizing potential during his de facto rookie year. With the help of former NBA team executive Seth Partnow, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic digs into Porter’s performance and explores what advanced data says about his play.
  • In his latest mailbag, Chris Hine of The Star Tribune examines the job Gersson Rosas has done as the Timberwolves‘ president of basketball operations and discusses the team’s draft plans, among other topics.

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Aldridge, Nuggets, Nader

When Damian Lillard took over the Trail Blazers‘ Twitter account on Monday evening for a Q&A with fans, most of the questions and his responses were fairly innocuous. However, one of Lillard’s answers had to be deleted after the fact.

As Nico Martinez of Fadeaway World details (hat tip to NBC Sports), when asked which former teammate he’d like to have on the current Trail Blazers roster, Lillard replied, “I’d add LaMarcus (Aldridge).”

That sort of comment wouldn’t be a big deal if Lillard said it during a Zoom or Instagram Live session, but the NBA may not take kindly to him making it on the Trail Blazers’ official Twitter account. The league introduced new anti-tampering measures last year and Lillard’s tweet – by way of the Blazers’ account – arguably violates those rules.

Although the tweet has since been removed, it’s sure to fuel speculation about an eventual reunion between the Trail Blazers and Aldridge, which has been a topic of discussion multiple times in recent years. For what it’s worth, Aldridge himself responded to Lillard’s tweet with an eyes emoji.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Once it became clear that Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas wanted the Bulls‘ head of basketball operations job, president of basketball operations Tim Connelly organized mock interview sessions to help him make a good impression in his actual meeting, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “It was amazing,” said Karnisovas, who was officially hired by Chicago on Monday. “It’s a prep, but that’s what I’m all about. I like to be all prepared. We prepared for all the questions and we covered all the bases. He helped me out.”
  • Nick Kosmider and John Hollinger of The Athetic take an in-depth look at the state of the Nuggets, examining what steps are necessary to turn Denver from a strong playoff team into a legitimate title contender.
  • In his third NBA season and second with the Thunder, Abdel Nader improved his shooting efficiency and made major strides on the defensive end, writes Logan Meyer of Daily Thunder. Oklahoma City is in position to keep Nader for one more year before he reaches free agency — he has a minimum-salary team option for 2020/21.

Northwest Notes: Dort, Nader, Russell, Grant

The Thunder and their surprising success have been among the NBA’s best stories this season. From the play of veterans Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari to the development of youngsters Luguentz Dort and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, there’s a lot to like about this team.

Speaking of development, head coach Billy Donovan wishes that Dort could practice more with the team and not have his NBA service days affected, writes Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman.

“I think one of the things that would be great,” he said, “is if some of those guys could practice and it not count against them. But I understand that’s not the rule.”

A player such as Dort, who is on a two-way contract, can only spend 45 days with his NBA parent club. When those players are not in the NBA, they are predominately spending time with their NBA G League affiliate.

This season, Dort has played in 29 games (started in 21) with the Thunder. He is averaging 6.2 points and 1.9 rebounds in 22 minutes per game. When his NBA service days run out, the Thunder will have the opportunity to sign the former Arizona State guard to a standard NBA contract. If Oklahoma City does this, he will be a part of the team’s 15-man roster and able to participate in the postseason.

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • In other Thunder news, it seems as they found themselves a defensive playmaker in Abdel NaderJoe Mussatto of The Oklahoman wrote about how the 26-year-old forward, who has a team option for 2020/21, made an impact on both ends of the floor in the Thunder’s 105-104 win on Sunday over the Celtics.
  • Chris Hine of The Star Tribune wrote about D’Angelo Russell‘s shooting slump from this past weekend. The recently-acquired Timberwolves point guard shot 8-of-32 from the field against the Magic and Pelicans. Nevertheless, Russell is not worried and understands that it’s a part of the game. “Just got to kind of let it go,” he said. “Don’t dwell too much on it. Never too high. Never too low. It’s a part of the game. Just let it go and I’ll be all right.” On Tuesday night against the Rockets, Russell scored 28 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field and 5-of-12 from three-point range in a 117-111 loss.
  • The Nuggets will have some tough decisions to make when it comes to their frontcourt this offseason, explains Nick Kosmider of The Athletic. Possible tax concerns may push Denver to decide between bringing back either Jerami Grant or Paul Millsap, who helped them defeat the Bucks on Monday. Grant had 19 points and six rebounds off the bench and is playing well over Denver’s last eight games. The former second-round pick has a $9.3MM player option for next season, while Millsap is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

Northwest Notes: Anthony, Teague, Nader, Thunder

Monday marked Carmelo Anthony‘s best game since returning to the NBA, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Anthony led all scorers with 25 points in 31 minutes as the Trail Blazers won in Chicago. He got a nice reception from Bulls fans and drew accolades from players who are happy to see him back in the league.

“I always advocated for him to be in the NBA,” Zach LaVine said. “… He’s better than a lot of people in the NBA, and he’s still getting it done. I think it was just bigger than that, and I’m glad to see him back here. Just not tonight.”

The performance raised questions about whether the Bulls should have given Anthony an opportunity when they had the chance. After the Rockets exiled him last season, they shipped him to Chicago in January in a cost-saving move. The Bulls waived him 10 days later. Anthony might have been able to revive his career sooner in the Windy City, but as he said after last night’s game, “They didn’t ask.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Jeff Teague‘s acceptance of a bench role in Minnesota is a rare move for a player in the final year of his contract, notes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Teague met with coach Ryan Saunders over the weekend before the change was finalized, sources tell Krawczynski. Rookie Jarrett Culver started alongside Andrew Wiggins last night and helped the Timberwolves win in Atlanta. Wiggins has taken on more of the playmaking duties this year, leaving Teague without a defined role in the offense. With a $19MM expiring contract, Teague may draw some interest on the trade market before the February 7 deadline.
  • Abdel Nader can expect more playing time for the Thunder with Hamidou Diallo sidelined with an elbow injury, states Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The third-year guard lives 15 minutes away from the team’s practice facility and sometimes works on his game until 3 a.m. “I’m a little bit crazy when it comes to the work I’ve gotta put in,” Nader said. “I wanna make sure my game feels tight — my shot, my handle, everything. That’s how I feel like I get better.”
  • Paul George and Russell Westbrook, who were the Thunder’s stars last year, had their first meeting of the season Friday when the Clippers hosted the Rockets and both have landed in better situations, contends Ben Golliver of The Washington Post.

Salary Guarantee Updates: Robinson, Nader, Dotson

The Heat don’t intend to waive Duncan Robinson today, tweets Ben Stinar of Amico Hoops. Keeping Robinson on the roster will ensure that the partial guarantee on his minimum-salary contract increases from $250K to $1MM. Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald confirms the news, noting (via Twitter) that Robinson now appears very likely to make Miami’s regular season roster for 2019/20, barring a trade.

The Heat have more contract decisions to make starting on August 1, when the partial guarantees for Kendrick Nunn and Yante Maten are both set to increase. Those decisions will be important, given Miami’s hard-cap constraints for the ’19/20 league year.

For now though, there are a handful of other teams carrying players with July 15 guarantee deadlines in their contracts. Let’s check in on them…

  • All signs point to the Thunder keeping Abdel Nader under contract through today and guaranteeing his 2019/20 salary ($1,618,520), tweets ESPN’s Royce Young.
  • As we relayed earlier, J.R. Smith is expected to be waived by the Cavaliers today before the amount of his partial guarantee increases, while the Pacers will retain Alize Johnson and fully guarantee his ’19/20 salary.
  • The other players with guarantee dates today, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link), are Damyean Dotson (Knicks) and Kenrich Williams (Pelicans). A report in early July indicated that the Knicks will hang onto Dotson and guarantee his $1,618,520 salary. There have been no updates one way or the other on Williams, who would get a $200K partial guarantee if he’s not released today.

Northwest Notes: Gobert, Exum, Wittman, Abrines

Jazz center Rudy Gobert and members of the organization are furious over his All-Star snub. Gobert told Aaron Falk of the team’s website and other media members that he can’t understand how coaches can preach defense and then leave him off their ballots. “It’s disrespectful not only toward me but toward the team, the organization and toward the game,” said Gobert, the league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Jazz coach Quin Snyder echoed Gobert’s gripe, ESPN’s Tim McMahon tweets. “We talk about defense being valued, but when we have a chance to reward it, we reward scoring again and again.” Jazz president Steve Starks tweeted that there should be more transparency in the voting. The coaches select the reserves. “Complete nonsense and we need more integrity and accountability. If the coaches vote than their ballots should be made public.”

We have more from around the Northwest Division:

  • Reserve Jazz guard Dante Exum will not return to action until sometime after the All-Star break, Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News reports. Exum hasn’t played since suffering a left ankle sprain against Detroit on January 5th. He has been participating in on-court work but won’t even be re-evaluated until after the break. Exum signed a three-year, $33MM contract last summer.
  • The Timberwolves have hired former head coach Randy Wittman as an advisor to first-year coach Ryan Saunders, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Saunders was on the Wizards’ staff when Wittman was the head coach there. “He’s an ear for me,” Saunders told Hine. “Another basketball mind to bounce things off of. I’m comfortable with him, known him for a long time.”
  • Thunder shooting guard Alex Abrines has returned to action but he’ll have to work his way back into the rotation, according to Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. Abrines played six minutes against Orlando on Tuesday after missing 17 games due to an illness and a personal matter. During his absence, Abdel Nader seized a rotation spot. Abrines will have battle Nader and Terrance Ferguson for minutes.

Northwest Notes: Rose, Nader, Schroder, Jazz

If Derrick Rose continues at his current pace, he could become just the second player ever to win Sixth Man of the Year after winning the Most Valuable Player award earlier in their career. As he prepares to return to Chicago to play the Bulls, the team with which he experienced his greatest successes, he deserves praise for his renaissance season, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes.

Injuries derailed Rose’s once seemingly surefire Hall 0f Fame career, but he has rebounded to be an impactful player of the Timberwolves‘ bench. Rose is averaging 18.5 PPG and 4.6 APG in 29.2 minutes per contest in 2018/19. Not only that, his field goal percentage (48.5%) is at its highest mark since his sophomore season and his three-point shooting (46.9%) is over 12% better than at any other point.

“The way he’s getting ready for the game as far as working out, monitoring his body, taking care of himself, he’s a totally different person,” Rose’s longtime teammate Taj Gibson said. “Every game, it’s like he’s in a new form. He’s born again. And it shows.”

Check out more Northwest Division notes: