Anthony Lamb

Rockets Claim Garrison Mathews, Waive Anthony Lamb

The Rockets have made a change to one of their two-way contract slots, waiving forward Anthony Lamb and replacing him with guard Garrison Mathews, reports Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter links). According to Iko, Houston claimed Mathews off waivers and converted his Exhibit 10 contract to a two-way deal.

Mathews, who was on a two-way contract with Washington for each of the past two seasons after going undrafted out of Lipscomb in 2019, emerged as a regular rotation player for Washington in 2020/21, averaging 5.5 PPG in 64 games (16.2 MPG). The 24-year-old shooting guard has displayed a reliable outside shot since entering the NBA, making 38.9% of 244 total three-point attempts.

The Celtics signed Mathews to a training camp contract this offseason and he was a candidate to be converted to a two-way deal in Boston, but he reportedly asked the team not to do so. According to Jared Weiss of The Athletic, Mathews thought it was unlikely he’d be promoted to the Celtics’ standard roster during the season if he were on a two-way deal with the team. There’s a better path to a 15-man roster spot in Houston, where the Rockets will likely try to trade some veterans this season.

As for Lamb, he played in the G League bubble with the Canton Charge and Rio Grande Valley Vipers earlier this year after going undrafted out of Vermont in 2020. His solid showing for Houston’s G League affiliate (the Vipers) earned him a two-way deal with the Rockets in March. He averaged 5.5 PPG and 2.9 RPG in 24 games (17.3 MPG) for Houston, then accepted his two-way qualifying offer this offseason. He’s a candidate to return to the Vipers.

The Rockets also completed another minor transaction, quietly signing and waiving big man Mfiondu Kabengele, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. The sign-and-waive move ensures that Houston can make Kabengele an affiliate player for Rio Grande Valley, assuming he signs a G League contract.

Kabengele, 24, was the 27th overall pick in the 2019 draft, but barely played for the Clippers in his rookie year and had his rookie scale team option for the 2021/22 season turned down. He was traded to the Kings at the 2021 deadline, then caught on with the Cavaliers after being cut by Sacramento. The 6’9″ Canadian played in 16 games for the Cavs down the stretch, averaging 4.3 PPG and 2.9 RPG in 11.6 minutes per contest.

Because Kabengele signed his Exhibit 10 contract with Houston on Sunday and wasn’t cut until Monday, he’ll still be on waivers when the regular season begins. That means the Rockets will take on a small cap hit for a couple days worth of his minimum salary.

Anthony Lamb Accepts Qualifying Offer From Rockets

Anthony Lamb has accepted the qualifying offer that the Rockets made at the end of July, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

Because Lamb was on a two-way contract, the offer is the equivalent of another two-way deal that carries a $50K guarantee. He and rookie Matthew Hurt will be Houston’s two-way players heading into camp, and they will battle for roster spots along with guards Armoni Brooks and Daishen Nix and forward Tyler Bey, who all have Exhibit 10 deals. Lamb’s signing brings the team to the training camp limit of 20 players.

After going undrafted out of Vermont, Lamb went to camp with the Pistons last December but was cut before the season began. The 23-year-old played in the G League before joining the Rockets in March. He got into 24 games, starting three, and averaged 5.5 points and 2.9 rebounds in 17.3 minutes per night.

If Lamb makes the team, Feigen speculates that his future will be as a stretch four as he shot 39.2% from three-point range over his final 15 games. Lamb has upgraded his strength and fitness, according to Summer League coach Will Weaver.

“The biggest focus this summer is defense,” Lamb said. “I just went out trying to figure out how I can make myself more versatile, being able to switch onto multiple people, guard whoever comes against me. I’m trying to use my voice and talk to make sure that I’m really effective on that end.”

Checking In On Remaining Restricted Free Agents

When Lauri Markkanen finally came off the board over the weekend, it left just two standard restricted free agents who are still unsigned, as our FA list shows. Both of those players are Timberwolves free agents: Jordan McLaughlin and Jarred Vanderbilt.

Restricted free agents never have a ton of leverage, especially this deep into the offseason. Some players who remain on the market for weeks, like Markkanen, can still land player-friendly deals, but if McLaughlin or Vanderbilt have been drawing interest around the NBA as coveted sign-and-trade candidates or potential offer sheet recipients, we probably would’ve heard about it by now.

McLaughlin looked like he might be in position to secure a favorable commitment from the Timberwolves after the team traded Ricky Rubio to Cleveland, but Minnesota’s recent move to acquire Patrick Beverley adds depth to the point guard spot and clouds McLaughlin’s future.

A year ago, McLaughlin ultimately decided to accept his qualifying offer and play on a two-way contract for a second consecutive season. This time around, his QO is the equivalent of a one-year, minimum-salary deal, but only a very small portion of that offer (about $84K) has to be guaranteed, so accepting it isn’t a great option.

The Wolves are likely willing to offer a more significant guarantee in 2021/22, but probably want to tack on at least one or two non-guaranteed, minimum-salary years to any deal for McLaughlin. With two-way player McKinley Wright in the picture as a potential third point guard, Minnesota has the roster flexibility to play hardball in its negotiations with McLaughlin.

Vanderbilt may be in a slightly better negotiating position, since he’s likely a higher priority for the Wolves. He started 30 games last season, earning a regular rotation role and showing the ability to handle minutes at power forward, the team’s most glaring weak spot.

Minnesota has a few options at the four, but Taurean Prince and Jake Layman won’t move the needle much, and Jaden McDaniels remains pretty raw. Vanderbilt would be a useful depth piece at the right price, which – in the Wolves’ view – is probably something not far above the veteran’s minimum.

As we wait to see what happens with McLaughlin and Vanderbilt, it’s also worth noting that there are technically four other restricted free agents still on the market. The following four players were made RFAs after finishing the season on two-way contracts:

For these four players, accepting a qualifying offer would mean getting another two-way contract with a $50K partial guarantee.

Signing that qualifying offer would provide no security, even though the Spurs, Clippers, Rockets, and Cavaliers do all have two-way slots open right now. Given the modest guarantee, a team likely wouldn’t hesitate to replace one of its two-way players in October with a camp invitee who has an impressive preseason. And as McLaughlin’s situation shows, even playing out a second year on a two-way QO wouldn’t necessarily give a player additional leverage in his next foray into restricted free agency.

Southwest Notes: Markkanen, Lamb, Grizzlies, Mavs’ Staff

The Mavericks would be happy to acquire Lauri Markkanen from the Bulls if he would agree sign under market value so they could fit him into their $11MM traded player exception, according to Tim Cato of The Athletic. In that sign-and-trade scenario, the Mavericks likely wouldn’t have to give up a rotation player.

The alternative would be to offer Markkanen a three-year deal in the $44MM range. The Bulls have some interest in Maxi Kleber, Cato adds. Kleber has a base salary of $8.75MM next season and his 2022/23 salary is non-guaranteed. However, the Mavericks would be giving up a rotation piece and replacing him with a player with a higher salary.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets have made a two-way qualifying offer to Anthony Lamb but he hopes that he proved in summer league play he deserves a standard contract, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. “Hopefully, I convince them I deserve more,” Lamb said. He averaged 7.2 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 1.8 APG and played strong defense in five outings at Las Vegas.
  • The Grizzlies have become a proverbial dumping ground for teams looking to move contracts they’re trying to shed, says Mark Giannotto of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Their recent acquisition of Patrick Beverley – who is being flipped to Minnesota – and Rajon Rondo from the Clippers demonstrates that strategy. Memphis has made a number of similar moves in recent years, stockpiling first-round draft picks and opening up cap space after this season with the hope landing another star to join Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr.
  • The Mavericks are looking to add another assistant to Jason Kidd’s staff, according to Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News, who tweets that they’ve interviewed at least two female candidates with the aim of hiring one of them if the right candidate is found. Dallas had a female assistant last season in Jenny Boucek, who joined Rick Carlisle‘s staff in Indiana.

Rockets Extend Qualifying Offer To Anthony Lamb

Anthony Lamb has received a qualifying offer from the Rockets, tweets Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Because Lamb is a two-way player, his QO will carry a $50K guarantee, and it will make him restricted heading into free agency.

Lamb went to training camp with the Pistons last year, but was waived before the season began. He signed with Houston in early March and appeared in 24 games, making three starts and averaging 5.5 points and 2.9 rebounds per night.

A 6’6″ small forward, Lamb played for both the Canton Charge and the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the G League bubble this year. He was named the league’s Most Improved Player.

Earlier today, the Rockets tendered a qualifying offer to Armoni Brooks, so both of their two-way players have been addressed. However, the team also reportedly agreed to a two-way deal with undrafted rookie Matthew Hurt, so it appears unlikely that both Brooks and Lamb will return unless one is promoted to the 15-man roster.

Rockets Notes: Young Players, Tucker Deal, Lamb

As injured Rockets veterans continue to rejoin the roster, head coach Stephen Silas still intends to keep some rotation minutes open for the development of Houston’s youth movement, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

The most recent player to return to the Houston lineup is center Christian Wood, who rejoined the team on the floor last night after a 17-game absence due to a sprained ankle. Wing Danuel House Jr. also recently returned from his own injury absence, and veteran guards John Wall and Victor Oladipo are expected back Friday.

A pair of tantalizing 20-year-olds – Kevin Porter Jr. and Kenyon Martin Jr. – still figure to earn major minutes even with the older players back on the floor. “I will say I am working on it and I am attentive to the fact I want those young guys to play,” Silas said.

There’s more out of Houston:

  • Following the deal that sent P.J. Tucker, Rodions Kurucs and a 2022 first-round draft pick (Milwaukee’s own) to the Bucks, Kelly Iko of The Athletic explains why he thinks both the Rockets and Milwaukee should be happy with the trade. In return, Houston received some promising draft assets, plus veteran reserve point guard D.J. Augustin and young power forward D.J. Wilson. Iko is intrigued by the lengthy Wilson’s upside and fit within a Silas system, Augustin’s veteran know-how, and the Rockets front office’s acquisition of two Bucks first-round picks in the deal.
  • Rockets two-way player Anthony Lamb was named the G League’s Most Improved Player due to his stellar output for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, G League affiliate for the Rockets, according to an NBAGL press release.
  • As we previously relayed, Rockets swingman David Nwaba initially opted to avoid surgery on his injured wrist to help a Rockets club riddled with player absences. He subsequently re-aggravated the injury, making surgery a possibility once again.

Southwest Notes: Lamb, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Luka

At 18-16, the Mavericks are currently the No. 8 seed in the West. Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News takes a look at potential trades ahead of the March 25 deadline that could help Dallas move into the Western Conference’s top tier.

Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal and Hawks power forward John Collins (a restricted free agent this summer) are among the higher-impact targets Dallas could pursue to pair with All-Star guard Luka Doncic. Veteran Pelicans wing J.J. Redick could be a more realistic addition.

There’s more out of the Southwest:

  • New Rockets forward Anthony Lamb raved about the club, according to Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston (Twitter link). “It’s an unbelievable opportunity,” Lamb said. “Just being able to play with them is awesome. I’m so grateful for the chance.” Lamb had been playing with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets’ G League affiliate. He highlighted his familiarity with the Vipers’ system (which is modeled after Houston’s) when discussing his transition to Houston, Berman tweets. “It’s gonna make it a lot easier to make it simple for myself,” Lamb said.
  • The Grizzlies have announced (Twitter link) that they have recalled Jontay Porter from their G League affiliate, the Memphis Hustle, and have transferred two-way player Sean McDermott back to the Grizzlies as well. Across nine contests for the Hustle, Porter averaged 7.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.2 APG and 1.2 BPG. McDermott averaged 17.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG and 1.5 for the club’s NBAGL affiliate.
  • Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News wonders if a trade could help the Mavericks spread the wealth and yield a more balanced offensive attack for the club. This could prove particularly beneficial to point guard Luka Doncic, currently quarterbacking the club’s offense at a high usage rate.

Rockets Add Anthony Lamb, Waive Mason Jones

5:55pm: Both moves are official, according to a team press release.


5:20pm: The Rockets are signing forward Anthony Lamb on a two-way contract, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Concurrently, Houston is requesting waivers on rookie guard Mason Jones, Kelly Iko of The Athletic tweets.

Lamb, 23, was playing for the Rockets’ G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He was with the Pistons this December on a training camp invitation but was waived. He averaged 11.2 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 2.1 APG in 12 games at the G League bubble in Orlando.

The 6’6” Lamb was a four-year starter at Vermont and the two-time America East Conference Player of the Year. He averaged 16.7 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 2.5 APG and 1.2 BPG as a senior.

Jones, who was on a two-way deal, averaged 5.5 RPG, 2.1 RPG and 1.3 APG in 22 appearances with the Rockets. Jones declared for the draft after his sophomore year with Arkansas but wasn’t selected. He led the SEC in scoring last year with 22.0 PPG.

2020/21 NBA G League Draft Results

The NBA G League held its draft for the 2020/21 season on Monday afternoon.

In a typical year, the G League draft lasts four rounds and teams are only required to make two selections. However, this year’s draft was just three rounds and teams weren’t required to make any picks.

Because only 17 of 28 NBA G League affiliates (plus the G League Ignite) are participating in the revamped season at Walt Disney World in Florida, and because teams aren’t permitted to bring extra players to training camp for health and safety reasons, roster spots will be at a premium in the NBAGL this season, and the draft reflected that. Only 25 players were selected.

With the first overall pick, the Greensboro Swarm – the Hornets‘ affiliate – nabbed former Wizard Admiral Schofield. The 42nd overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, Schofield averaged 3.0 PPG and 1.4 RPG in 33 games (11.2 MPG) as a rookie before being traded to the Thunder during the offseason. Oklahoma City waived him last month.

With the second overall pick, which they acquired in a trade earlier in the day, the Memphis Hustle selected former Baylor standout Freddie Gillespie, who had been in camp with the Mavericks. Gillespie recently spoke to JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors about his desire to make it to the NBA and his plans to begin his professional career in the G League. He’s now in position to suit up for the Grizzlies‘ affiliate.

Here are the full 2020/21 G League draft results:

Round One:

  1. Greensboro Swarm (Hornets): Admiral Schofield (Tennessee)
  2. Memphis Hustle (Grizzlies): Freddie Gillespie (Baylor)
  3. Canton Charge (Cavaliers): Antonio Blakeney (LSU)
  4. Iowa Wolves (Timberwolves): Allonzo Trier (Arizona)
  5. Lakeland Magic (Magic):  Tahjere McCall (Tennessee State)
  6. Canton Charge: Anthony Lamb (Vermont)
  7. Oklahoma City Blue (Thunder): Zavier Simpson (Michigan)
  8. Lakeland Magic: DJ Hogg (Texas A&M)
  9. Westchester Knicks (Knicks): Justin Patton (Creighton)
  10. Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Rockets): Armoni Brooks (Houston)
  11. Raptors 905 (Raptors): Kevon Harris (Stephen F. Austin)
  12. Rio Grande Valley Vipers: Jarron Cumberland (Cincinnati)
  13. Oklahoma City Blue: Vince Edwards (Purdue)
  14. Austin Spurs (Spurs): Jonathan Kasibabu (Fairfield)
  15. Raptors 905: Gary Payton II (Oregon State)
  16. Memphis Hustle: Anthony Cowan Jr. (Maryland)
  17. Iowa Wolves: Dakarai Tucker (Utah)
  18. Salt Lake City Stars (Jazz): No pick
  19. N/A

Round Two:

  1. Delaware Blue Coats (Sixers): Jemerrio Jones (New Mexico State)
  2. Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Pacers): Oshae Brissett (Syracuse)
  3. Westchester Knicks: No pick
  4. Iowa Wolves: No pick
  5. Long Island Nets (Nets): No pick
  6. Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (Clippers): No pick
  7. Fort Wayne Mad Ants: Quincy McKnight (Seton Hall)
  8. Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (Clippers): No pick
  9. Santa Cruz Warriors (Warriors): Selom Mawugbe (Azusa Pacific)
  10. Raptors 905: No pick
  11. Memphis Hustle: No pick
  12. Austin Spurs: Anthony Mathis (Oregon)
  13. Erie BayHawks (Pelicans): No pick
  14. Greensboro Swarm: No pick
  15. Austin Spurs: Kaleb Johnson (Georgetown)
  16. Santa Cruz Warriors: No pick
  17. Memphis Hustle: No pick
  18. Oklahoma City Blue: Rob Edwards (Arizona State)
  19. Salt Lake City Stars: No pick

Round Three:

  1. Greensboro Swarm: No pick
  2. Erie BayHawks: No pick
  3. Westchester Knicks: No pick
  4. Delaware Blue Coats: Braxton Key (Virginia)
  5. No picks from 43-57

The teams that didn’t make any picks will fill their rosters with affiliate players and returning rights players, meaning they didn’t need to draft anyone and/or didn’t have the open spots to do so.

As Jonathan Givony of ESPN and Blake Murphy of The Athletic noted (via Twitter), NBAGL teams overwhelmingly opted for youth, passing on most of the notable veteran NBA players in the draft pool. That group included Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers, Lance Stephenson, Emeka Okafor, and Shabazz Muhammad, among others.

Former Nets first-rounder Dzanan Musa removed his name from the draft pool before the event began, per Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

Pistons Waive Louis King, Anthony Lamb, LiAngelo Ball

The Pistons have cut three players from their 20-man training camp roster, according to James Edwards III of The Athletic, who tweets that the club has requested waivers on forward Louis King, forward Anthony Lamb, and wing LiAngelo Ball. King and Lamb briefly appeared in Detroit’s preseason game vs. New York on Sunday.

Lamb and Ball were training camp invitees who were never considered likely to make the 15-man regular season roster, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that they’ve been waived. It’s possible they’ll end up playing for the Grand Rapids Drive, though it doesn’t look for now like Detroit’s G League affiliate will participate in the proposed NBAGL bubble.

As for King, the 21-year-old had signed a second two-way contract with the Pistons after spending his rookie season in 2019/20 on a two-way deal with the team. His release means that one of Detroit’s two-way slots is open — second-rounder Saben Lee occupies the other.

The Pistons now have 17 players under contract, including Lee and 16 players on guaranteed salaries. At least one of those 16 will need to be traded or cut before the regular season gets underway.