Bobby Portis

COVID-19 Updates: Hawks, Blazers, Celtics, Bucks, Nets

Wesley Iwundu, who just signed a 10-day contract with the Hawks on Thursday, has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Iwundu played 23 minutes in the Hawks’ 98-96 victory over the Sixers Thursday night, scoring two points and grabbing five rebounds. ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets that the Hawks will need to sign another replacement player to replace Iwundu — himself a replacement player.

Hawks big man Onyeka Okongwu, who made his season debut last week, has entered the protocols as well, Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. In three games this season (22.3 MPG), Okongwu is averaging 10.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 2.0 BPG. The Hawks now have nine players in the protocols.

Here are a few more COVID-related updates:

  • Backup point guard Dennis Smith Jr. and two-way rookie Trendon Watford have entered the protocols for the Trail Blazers and the rest of the team will now be re-tested, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). DSJ and Watford are the only players currently in the protocols for the Blazers.
  • The Celtics have four new players entering the protocols: C.J. Miles, Justin Jackson, Aaron Nesmith, and Bruno Fernando, tweets Jared Weiss of The Athletic. However, Al Horford, Juan Hernangomez, Jabari Parker, and Brodric Thomas, who’ve all been in the protocols, are listed as questionable for Saturday’s game against Milwaukee, so they could be exiting the protocols soon. Until those four are cleared, the Celtics will have 12 players in the COVID-19 protocols — the largest outbreak in the NBA.
  • In addition to Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bobby Portis has exited the protocols for the Bucks, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press tweets. Like Horford and the other Celtics, Donte DiVincenzo, who’s also been in the protocols, is listed as questionable to make his season debut Saturday.
  • Meanwhile, Bruce Brown and James Johnson have exited the protocols for the Nets, but seven others, including star Kevin Durant, remain in the protocols for their game Saturday against the Lakers, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).
  • Warriors rookie Moses Moody has entered the protocols, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link). Golden State now has four players in the protocols.

Eastern Notes: Portis, Parker, Casey, Oladipo

Forward Bobby Portis is the latest Bucks player to be placed under the league’s health and safety protocols, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Donte DiVincenzo and Wesley Matthews are already listed out for Friday’s game against the Pelicans for the same reason. Brook Lopez and Semi Ojeleye are injured and Thanasis Antetokounmpo is listed as doubtful due to a right soleus strain. That will leave the Bucks with 10 players if there are no more developments.

We have more Eastern Conference news:

  • Celtics forward Jabari Parker has also been placed under health and safety protocols, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston tweets. Parker has only appeared in nine games this season, averaging 4.6 PPG in 9.3 MPG in those outings.
  • Pistons coach Dwane Casey will miss tonight’s game against Indiana due to personal reasons, Keith Langlois of the team’s website tweets. It’s not due to a COVID-19 issue. Assistant Rex Kalamian will run the show in Casey’s absence. It’s unknown whether Casey will return to coach the team in two home games this weekend.
  • Guard Victor Oladipo is traveling with the Heat during their four-game trip and coach Erik Spoelstra believes that’s a significant development, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. “It’s a big step,” Spoelstra said. “It’s not about a step of when he’ll be back. It’s more about just the emotional and mental boost for him. He has been doing all this work behind the scenes, at the arena while we’ve been on the road. And we’ve been on the road virtually the entire season. So he hasn’t been with us for a large part of it.” Oladipo signed a one-year veteran’s minimum deal during the offseason. He had surgery in May to repair a quad tendon in his right knee.

Central Notes: Cousins, Vucevic, Holiday, Duarte, Hayes

DeMarcus Cousins won’t be asked to play major minutes for the Bucks, according to Eric Nehm of The Athletic. The veteran center can give them 10-15 minutes a game and help lessen the load on Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bobby Portis, who have been manning the middle while Brook Lopez has been sidelined with a back injury. Cousins agreed on Sunday to sign a non-guaranteed deal.

Cousins took part in a workout led by assistant coach Darvin Ham on Saturday in Las Vegas, Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated tweets. Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton and VP of Global Scouting Ryan Hoover attended the workout, and Cousins had a phone conversation with coach Mike Budenholzer afterward.

We have more info on the Central Division:

  • Nikola Vucevic hasn’t looked right since returning from a bout with COVID-19, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times opines. In his third game back on Saturday, the Bulls big man took only nine shots, scored seven points and committed three turnovers. The Heat paid special attention to him defensively. “I do think he’s getting his footing back under him,” coach Billy Donovan said. Vucevic’s 13.4 PPG are his lowest since his first season with the Magic in 2012/13, Cowley notes.
  • Justin Holiday has been giving advice to Pacers rookie Chris Duarte about his new bench role, Brendan Rourke of the team’s website writes. “When you’re young, you focus a lot on being the starter and doing stuff like that,” Holiday said. “I’m just trying to give him a different sight of how he can still help. He’s still just as valuable even though he doesn’t have that starting role.” Holiday has been inserted into the starting lineup in place of Duarte.
  • A four-game layoff to rest a sprained left thumb helped Pistons second-year guard Killian Hayes, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press writes. ‘”It was good for him to take it off, he’s feeling much better now,” coach Dwane Casey said of Hayes, who had six points and eight assists in 29 minutes against the Lakers on Sunday. “We’ll see if he can jumpstart it to do it again. He was playing pretty good, especially defensively.”

Injury Notes: Brown, Pacers, Raptors, Bucks

Celtics All-Star wing Jaylen Brown is dealing with lingering after-effects from contracting COVID-19, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

Brown says it’s taking his body much longer to recover than normal, which is part of the reason he’s had up-and-down performances thus far.

Like, I feel great. And then it feels like instead of playing one game, it kind of feels like I played three. I’m used to my body responding and recovering a lot faster. I know I just turned 25, but this can’t be what it looks like on the other side,” Brown said Friday.

Head coach Ime Udoka recently said Brown’s inconsistency has been “mind-boggling,” according to Bontemps. Brown agreed, but he’s still not feeling right.

Ime came and talked to me about it yesterday,” Brown said. “It didn’t bother me. It’s mind-boggling to me too. I was surprised that my body didn’t respond the way it normally responds. I’m usually able to have that zip, that pop, flying up and down the court, but it wasn’t there. I think that was obvious.

I don’t think he was out of line or anything for that. I gotta be better and get with my medical staff and figure how to get my body to the point where I feel normal. Some days I feel fantastic and then it’s like two, three days, it takes my body too long to feel fantastic again. That’s an issue for me. As I navigate that, we have to still tighten up on the details, tighten up on our defense and find a way to win games. Even though I don’t feel the same on the court, I could still be better in certain areas and detailed in certain areas. That’s more the conversation that we have,” Brown said.

Brown is also suffering from patellar tendinopathy in his left knee, relays Bontemps, which is why he missed a game versus the Rockets on Sunday.

Here are some more injury notes from around the league:

  • We noted yesterday that Pacers rookie Isaiah Jackson suffered an injury on Wednesday and will be out “a while,” per head coach Rick Carlisle. The team provided an update today in press release, stating that Jackson has a hyperextended left knee and is considered week-to-week.
  • Caris LeVert missed the game tonight, but he’s close to returning for the Pacers, relays Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files (Twitter link).
  • Raptors forward Pascal Siakam is progressing from his shoulder injury, but he’s still weeks away from returning, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. Grange says the best-case scenario is Siakam might return in mid-November.
  • In a separate tweet, Grange says that Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe suffered a setback with his calf injury and was unable to practice today.
  • Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer doesn’t expect Brook Lopez or Jrue Holiday to play this weekend, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic (via Twitter). In a follow-up tweet, Nehm relays that Bobby Portis will miss tomorrow’s game as well (reconditioning).

Central Notes: Gores, Bucks, K. Martin, T. Brown

Speaking to Jabari Young of CNBC, Tom Gores admitted that he made a mistake early in his tenure as the owner of the Pistons by trying to take shortcuts to contention instead of being willing to be patient and endure some losing seasons while building the right way.

“I should’ve been better about the idea that you can’t always win, and you don’t win fast,” Gores said. “I think I’ve grown from that perspective. I’m not sure I understood the magnitude of the responsibility when you own a sports team in a town that is looking to you for inspiration.”

After spending several years in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference, Gores has embraced what general manager Troy Weaver calls a “restoration” of the franchise in the last couple years. The Pistons’ 20-52 record last season was their worst mark since 1993/94, but the team was able to add potential cornerstone Cade Cunningham to a promising young core this offseason, creating optimism for the future.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • The Bucks are on track to be a taxpayer for the second consecutive season in 2021/22 and could face some tough roster decisions a year from now, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who notes that Bobby Portis, Donte DiVincenzo, and Grayson Allen are all on expiring contracts and will be in line for raises on their next deals.
  • Following the trade of Edmond Sumner, there’s a clearer path to a regular season roster spot for Pacers wing Kelan Martin, but he’s not taking anything for granted, as David Woods of The Indianapolis Star writes. Martin has twice agreed to push his salary guarantee date back in the hopes of making Indiana’s 15-man squad.
  • Former 15th overall pick Troy Brown, who was traded from Washington to Chicago at last season’s deadline, is hoping to claim a bigger role with the Bulls in his first full season with the team, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. “I feel like me and Coach (Billy Donovan) have a good dynamic in the sense of me being like a Swiss Army Knife,” Brown said. “Whatever he needs on the court, that’s what I go do — whether it’s playmaking, rebounding, playing defense, hitting 3s. I feel like that’s my job on the team, and I just try to accept that role and do it as best as I can.”

Central Notes: Johnson And Johnson, Bulls, Portis

The Bulls added two new, defensive-minded free agent forwards over the weekend to build out their bench depth. Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times examines how the new pair of Stanley Johnson and Alize Johnson should fit for Chicago.

As Cowley writes, after the Bulls lost out on the sweepstakes to veteran Paul Millsap as their main reserve power forward, the team quickly pivoted to the Johnsons. Though neither player is much of a jump-shooter, both are young and athletic.

Due to a shallow frontcourt, Stanley and Alize Johnson should each see plenty of playing time behind starters DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Williams and pricier reserve Derrick Jones Jr. Cowley adds that the 6’7″ Alize Johnson could see some spot minutes as a small-ball center. All-Star Nikola Vucevic, and newly-added main backup Tony Bradley figure to see more minutes at the position. Johnson could compete with rookie center Marko Simonovic for occasional run at the five.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The Bulls appear to be closing in on their opening night roster after a busy offseason. Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago reviews Chicago’s depth chart heading into the 2021/22 season. Schaefer lauds the club’s creativity in thoroughly remaking itself this summer, a process that required several complex sign-and-trade agreements.
  • Bucks reserve big man Bobby Portis, who is returning to Milwaukee on a team-friendly two-year, $9MM deal, chatted with Shams Charania of Stadium to discuss his free agent decision and his future with the team (Twitter video link). During the conversation, Charania observed that the Heat and Mavericks were among the playoff clubs seeking Portis’ services during the 2021 offseason. “This is a winning environment,” Portis said of the team with which he won a title this year. He noted that 2021 Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo did he darnedest to ensure that Portis return to the Bucks as he entered free agency. “To have a guy like Giannis call me, wanting me to stay… is just great.”
  • In case you missed it, the Cavaliers are continuing to explore adding swingman bench depth. Free agents Garrison Mathews and Denzel Valentine are among some of the names being considered.

How Players Who Declined Options Fared In Free Agency

Of the 16 veterans who had player options on their contracts for the 2021/22 season, seven picked up those options, forgoing free agency for another year of security. However, that leaves nine players who opted out and reached the free agent market.

For some players, that decision was an easy one. For instance, Norman Powell was long believed to be in line for a multiyear deal in the range of $15-20MM per year, so exercising his $11.6MM player option never would’ve made any sense.

The decision wasn’t so easy for every player who opted out though. Now that we’re five weeks into free agency, we want to look back on those decisions to see if they paid off for the nine players who opted out.

Let’s dive in…


The biggest wins:

  • Kawhi Leonard
    • Option: $36,016,200 (Clippers)
    • New contract: Four years, $176,265,152 (Clippers)
  • Norman Powell
    • Option: $11,615,328 (Trail Blazers)
    • New contract: Five years, $90,000,000 (Trail Blazers)
  • Spencer Dinwiddie
    • Option: $12,302,496 (Nets)
    • New contract: Three years, $54,000,000 (Wizards)
      • Note: Deal includes $8MM in incentives; third year partially guaranteed.

Leonard, Powell, and Dinwiddie all secured raises for the 2021/22 season and increased their overall guarantees exponentially. Leonard tacked on an extra $140MM in guaranteed money, while Powell’s new overall guarantee is nearly eight times more than his option salary.

Dinwiddie’s new contract isn’t quite as favorable as the other two, but it’s still a major win for a player who missed nearly the entire 2020/21 season due to an ACL tear. Even in a worst-case scenario, Dinwiddie will earn $45MM in guaranteed money. He can ensure his third-year salary becomes fully guaranteed by appearing in at least 50 games in each of the next two seasons, and he has the ability to earn even more in incentives.

A solid win:

  • Chris Paul
    • Option: $44,211,146 (Suns)
    • New contract: Four years, $120,000,000 (Suns)
      • Note: Deal includes $75MM in guaranteed money. Third year is partially guaranteed; fourth year is non-guaranteed.

If you want to move Paul to the “biggest wins” group, I wouldn’t argue with that. After all, he increased his overall guarantee by more than $30MM, which is no small feat for a player hitting free agency at age 36.

I’m separating him into his own group because his 2021/22 salary was reduced by more than $13MM as part of his new deal, and I think it’s possible he could’ve gotten more than $30MM in guaranteed money on his next deal if he had simply picked up his option and hit free agency next year.

I certainly don’t blame him for going this route though, given his injury history. And if he continues to play at a high level, the Suns will probably want to keep him for the third year of the deal, which would increase his overall guarantee on this contract to $90MM.

Minor wins:

  • Will Barton
    • Option: $14,669,642 (Nuggets)
    • New contract: Two years, $30,000,000 (Nuggets)
      • Note: Deal includes $2MM in incentives.
  • JaMychal Green
    • Option: $7,559,748 (Nuggets)
    • New contract: Two years, $16,400,000 (Nuggets)
      • Note: Deal includes $400K in incentives.
  • Bobby Portis
    • Option: $3,804,150 (Bucks)
    • New contract: Two years, $8,912,580 (Bucks)
  • Bryn Forbes
    • Option: $2,454,002 (Bucks)
    • New contract: One year, $4,500,000 (Spurs)

The Nuggets took a similar approach to their negotiations with Barton and Green — Denver gave each player a small raise this year, plus a second guaranteed season (Green’s second year is a player option).

The Bucks went that route with Portis too, giving him the biggest raise they could offer using his Non-Bird rights and including a second-year player option on his new deal.

You could make a case that Forbes is a big winner for nearly doubling his 2021/22 salary, but without any future years tacked onto that deal (and given the relatively small salaries involved), I’m classifying it as a modest victory.

The jury’s still out:

Hartenstein is the only one of these nine players who remains unsigned. Based on his solid play with the Cavs down the stretch, turning down his minimum-salary player option seemed like a reasonable bet at the time, but it now looks like he might’ve been better off taking the guaranteed money.

While he’ll probably be signed at some point in the coming weeks, Hartenstein isn’t a lock for a fully guaranteed deal. And even if he gets a guaranteed one-year, minimum-salary contract, it’ll be worth slightly less ($1,729,217) than the option he declined, due to the league’s minimum-salary rules.

Eastern Contract Details: Lowry, Birch, Heat, Dinwiddie, Niang, More

Kyle Lowry‘s new three-year, $85MM contract with the Heat is a standard increasing deal, starting at about $26.98MM and rising annually by 5%, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac.

Based on Lowry’s 2021/22 salary, we now know the value of the traded player exception the Raptors created in their sign-and-trade deal with the Heat, tweets Blake Murphy of The Athletic. That TPE will be worth $4,832,848, which is the difference between Lowry’s new salary and the combined cap hits of Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa.

Murphy also confirms that Khem Birch‘s three-year, $20MM deal with the Raptors is a standard increasing contract with no options or partial guarantees — it eats up about $6.35MM of Toronto’s mid-level exception, leaving $3.187MM on that MLE.

Here are more contract details from around the East, courtesy of Smith:

  • As expected, the new deals for Max Strus, Omer Yurtseven, and Gabe Vincent with the Heat are each two-year, minimum-salary contracts with one year guaranteed and the second year non-guaranteed (Twitter link). P.J. Tucker, meanwhile, got a two-year, $14.35MM contract that uses $7MM of Miami’s mid-level exception in year one. Tucker’s second year is a player option (Twitter link).
  • Spencer Dinwiddie‘s three-year contract with the Wizards only has a base value of $54MM, rather than the previously-reported total of $60MM+ (Twitter link). The deal, which features unlikely incentives that could push its value higher, has a partial guarantee worth $10MM (of $18.86MM) in year three.
  • Georges Niang‘s deal with the Sixers came in at $6.765MM over two years, both of which are fully guaranteed (Twitter link).
  • Trae Young‘s five-year, maximum-salary extension with the Hawks includes a 15% trade kicker (Twitter link).
  • The numbers are also in for the finalized deals between Jarrett Allen and the Cavaliers (Twitter link), Bobby Portis and the Bucks (Twitter link), George Hill and the Bucks (Twitter link), and Danny Green and the Sixers (Twitter link), with no surprises among that group. As expected, Green’s second year is non-guaranteed and Portis has a second-year player option, while Allen and Hill have fully guaranteed salaries.

Bucks Re-Sign Bobby Portis

AUGUST 6: The Bucks have officially re-signed Portis, the team announced today in a press release.


AUGUST 2: The Bucks have agreed to a two-year, $9MM contract with free agent forward Bobby Portis, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The deal will include a second-year player option, according to Charania.

It’s a team-friendly rate for Portis, who played an important role in Milwaukee’s championship run this summer. As Charania explains (Twitter links), Portis turned down potential deals from the Mavericks and Heat in order to remain in Milwaukee because he appreciated the organization’s culture and winning environment and the way the community embraced him.

The Bucks were limited in their ability to offer Portis much more than what he’s getting, since they only held his Non-Bird rights. That meant the team couldn’t give him more than a 20% raise on last year’s $3.623MM salary without dipping into its mid-level exception.

It appears Milwaukee will indeed use its Non-Bird rights to bring back Portis — his two-year deal should start at about $4.35MM. If he opts out in 2022, the Bucks would have his Early Bird rights and could sign him to a more lucrative contract.

Among qualified players, only two had a higher three-point percentage in 2020/21 than Portis’ 47.1% mark. He also contributed 11.4 PPG and 7.1 RPG in 66 games (20.8 MPG).

Free Agent Rumors: Lowry, DeRozan, Knicks, Graham, Jackson, More

Now considered to be favorites to land Kyle Lowry in free agency, the Heat may try to bring in DeMar DeRozan as well, tweets Jordan Schultz of ESPN, confirming a series of reports from the last 24 hours.

Lowry and DeRozan were backcourt partners in Toronto for many years and have remained close friends. Miami is looking at a sign-and-trade as the best way to add Lowry, and is hoping that DeRozan might be available for the mid-level exception. That represents a big pay cut, but sources tell Schultz he might be interested if it means a chance to play alongside Lowry again.

If DeRozan turns down the MLE, the Heat will focus on finding a stretch four, says Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). There is support among the front office for Jeff Green, according to Jackson, who mentions Bobby Portis, Rudy Gay and Otto Porter as other options.

Meanwhile, Goran Dragic is expected to be part of a sign-and-trade with Toronto for Lowry, but the Raptors are unlikely to keep him. The Mavericks will be among the teams with interest in Dragic, according to Jackson (Twitter link).

Miami would also like to bring back reserve center Dewayne Dedmon, but he may get better offers, says Jackson (Twitter link). The Heat, who only hold Non-Bird rights on Dedmon, may have to offer part of their $3.6MM biannual exception to be competitive.

There’s more as the start of free agency draws closer:

  • The Knicks have some mutual interest with DeRozan, as well as Celtics shooting guard Evan Fournier, writes Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Begley also hears that Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky would be part of the potential return in a sign-and-trade if Chicago lands Pelicans RFA Lonzo Ball, while rival teams expect Duncan Robinson to re-sign with the Heat.
  • While he isn’t necessarily their Plan A or B, Cameron Payne is one of the free agent point guards on the Knicks‘ radar, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. New York has considered a Payne/Derrick Rose tandem at point guard for next season, Berman adds.
  • The Thunder are seen by rival executives as a possible suitor for Hornets guard Devonte’ Graham, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Graham is a restricted free agent, so Charlotte can match any offer, but Oklahoma City has the cap flexibility necessary to put pressure on the Hornets.
  • The Pelicans, Knicks, Celtics, and Nuggets are among the teams expected to express interest in point guard Reggie Jackson, per Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • EuroLeague standout Tyler Dorsey, who previously played for Atlanta and Memphis, is positioned for a return to the NBA and is drawing interest from several teams, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.