Caleb Swanigan

Northwest Notes: Kings, Wolves, Whiteside, Noel

New Trail Blazers trio Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan and Wenyen Gabriel are excited for their opportunity in Portland, according to Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com. And their new teammates are looking forward to integrating them into the team’s system as 19-27 Portland competes for the eighth seed in the West.

The Trail Blazers are currently the No. 11 seed, just 2.5 games shy of the current eighth seed, the 21-24 Grizzlies. The 34 year-old Ariza appears the most likely new player to be incorporated into the current rotation. He is in the first of a two-year, $25MM contract he signed with the Kings in 2019.

“At this point, we’ve really simplified everything that we’ve done over the years, so… I don’t think it will be that hard to catch on to,” said star Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard. “Like today at practice, they put in some of the sets that we’ve been running, the things that we do a lot and we didn’t have to stop practice to be like ‘Alright, this what we gotta do.’ [Ariza] just kinda remembered it, it was pretty simple for him.” 

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • During halftime of a seventh straight Timberwolves loss, irked coach Ryan Saunders berated his team, according to Chris Hine of the Minnesota Star Tribune. Much of that frustration was directed at disappointing $148MM wing Andrew Wiggins. “He was yelling at me a lot of the time,” Wiggins confirmed. “I needed it. The first half was a bad first half. I wasn’t aggressive.”
  • Though the Trail Blazers are clearly eager to cut more contracts to get under the luxury tax this spring, The Athletic’s Jason Quick suspects that GM Neil Olshey may have trouble offloading $98MM center Hassan Whiteside. Quick puts Whiteside’s odds of remaining in Portland through the February 6 trade deadline at 50/50.
  • Thunder backup center Nerlens Noel will miss tonight’s tilt against the Timberwolves due to a surgical procedure for a left cheek fracture, according to an ESPN report. The timeline on Noel’s absence will be updated next week. Noel, the No. 6 pick in 2013, has been productive in limited minutes for Oklahoma City, averaging 8.2 PPG and 5.2 RPG.

Kings, Trail Blazers Complete Five-Player Trade

JANUARY 21: The trade between the Kings and Trail Blazers is now official, according to press releases issued by both teams.

JANUARY 18: The Kings and Trail Blazers have agreed to a trade that will send Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to Sacramento in exchange for Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel, and Caleb Swanigan, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Shams Charania of The Athletic first reported (via Twitter) that the Blazers are trading Bazemore to Sacramento.

The Kings will also receive Portland’s second-round picks in 2024 and 2025 as part of the deal, a source tells Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link). ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter) that the swap can’t be officially completed until Tuesday, when Gabriel’s trade restriction lifts.

For Portland, the deal represents a cost-cutting move that shouldn’t impact the team’s on-court performance too drastically, if at all. Both Ariza and Bazemore have had down years so far, but Bazemore’s drop-off has been more precipitous —  he has posted a career-worst .347 FG% to go along with a .327 3PT%. Ariza is at least still knocking down his threes (.352 3PT%) at his usual career rate, even as his role was reduced in Sacramento.

Tolliver had been a rotation player for the Blazers, with 16.8 minutes per game in 33 contests, but hasn’t been at his best either — his .368 FG% is his worst mark since he was a rookie in 2008/09.

Bazemore and Tolliver are earning a combined $20.89MM, compared to a total of $15.68MM for Ariza, Swanigan, and Gabriel. Besides trimming more than $5MM off the Blazers’ team salary, the deal will also reduce the organization’s projected tax bill by $12.6MM, according to Marks (via Twitter).

Additionally, the Blazers will create a pair of traded player exceptions, including one worth just over $7MM, since they have a disabled player exception available to acquire Swanigan. The team will have the opportunity to keep Ariza for the 2020/21 season if he finishes the year strong. His $12.8MM salary for ’20/21 is partially guaranteed for $1.8MM, per Basketball Insiders.

It’s not clear if Swanigan and Gabriel fit into Portland’s plans, though it’s worth noting Swanigan was originally drafted by the Blazers before being traded to the Kings a year ago. Both players are on expiring contracts. Portland won’t need to cut anyone to make room to accommodate the three incoming players, since the club already had an open roster spot.

As for the Kings’ side of the deal, Amick observes (via Twitter) that it opens up a roster spot immediately and also creates slightly more flexibility moving forward, since Bazemore and Tolliver are on expiring contracts. The Ariza signing hadn’t worked out like the franchise had hoped, so Sacramento will hope that Bazemore can bounce back and that Tolliver looks more he did when he was a member of the Kings in 2016/17 and shot .442/.391/.744.

There are no plans to buy out Bazemore, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, who tweets that the veteran swingman has a “great relationship” with head coach Luke Walton and the Kings’ front office.

Even if the Kings’ new additions keep slumping, the team will come away with a pair of future assets in the trade by picking up the Blazers’ 2024 and 2025 second-round picks. Sacramento had already acquired multiple extra second-rounders for 2020 and 2021, so the team is building up quite a stash of draft picks, which could be useful in future deals.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/11/20

Here are Saturday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/22/19

Here are Sunday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA G League:

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/16/19

Here are Monday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA G League:

  • The Pacers have assigned JaKarr Sampson, Alize Johnson and Edmond Sumner to their G League affiliate, the team announced on Twitter. All three players are available for the Mad Ants’ contest tonight.
  • The Celtics have recalled Romeo Langford from the Maine Red Claws, as the team relays on Twitter. Langford was the No. 14 overall pick in the 2019 draft.
  • The Wolves have recalled Naz Reid and Jaylen Nowell, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic relays (Twitter link). Krawczynski notes that Reid looked quick and explosive during Minnesota’s practice earlier today.
  • The Kings have assigned Caleb Swanigan to the Stockton Kings, per Sacramento’s Twitter feed. The power forward has appeared in five NBA contests this season, seeing a total of 13 minutes.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/1/19

Here are Sunday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Clippers assigned Derrick Walton Jr. to the G League, then recalled both Walton and rookie center Mfiondu Kabengele later in the day, according to the team. Both players suited up for the Agua Caliente Clippers on Sunday, with Kabengele posting 15 points and 19 rebounds, though he shot just 6-of-17 in a loss to Santa Cruz.
  • The Pistons recalled rookie forward Sekou Doumbouya from Grand Rapids on Sunday, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Doumbouya saw a little garbage-time action in Detroit’s blowout win over San Antonio, scoring four points in less than three minutes.
  • The Timberwolves recalled rookie center Naz Reid from the G League on Sunday, per a team release.
  • After scoring 18 points in 18 minutes for the Northern Arizona Suns on Saturday, Ty Jerome was recalled to the NBA by the Suns, the team announced (via Twitter). Jerome, coming off an ankle injury, has yet to make his NBA debut.
  • The Kings recalled third-year forward Caleb Swanigan from the G League on Sunday, according to the club (Twitter link).
  • The Jazz sent forward Juwan Morgan and guard Miye Oni to the Salt Lake City Stars on Sunday, the team announced in a press release. Presumably, both players will suit up for Utah’s G League affiliate on Monday vs. Grand Rapids.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/30/19

Here are Saturday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Pacers assigned Victor Oladipo and Edmond Sumner to their Fort Wayne affiliate, the team announced in a press release. Both players are recovering from injuries and are scheduled to practice with the Mad Ants today, Tuesday and Wednesday. Oladipo, an All-Star the past two years, suffered a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee last season. Sumner had a non-displaced fracture of the third metacarpal in his right hand.
  • The Kings recalled Wenyen Gabriel and Caleb Swanigan from their affiliate in Stockton, according to a tweet from the team. Swanigan was sent back to the G League after today’s game, the Kings tweeted.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/29/19

Here are Friday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Hornets assigned rookie forward Cody Martin to the G League today, the team announced in a press release. Suiting up for the Greensboro Swarm for the first time against the Capital City Go-Go, Martin recorded 11 points, eight rebounds, and six assists in a 108-94 win.
  • The Bucks sent former lottery pick Dragan Bender to the Wisconsin Herd for Friday’s game against Erie, according to the team (Twitter link). Bender has logged just two minutes for Milwaukee this season, but is becoming a fixture for the Herd, having averaged 21.5 PPG and 9.8 RPG in four games entering tonight’s contest.
  • The Suns re-assigned rookie guard Ty Jerome to the G League for Friday’s contest vs. Sioux Falls, tweets Gina Mizell of The Athletic. Jerome, who is recovering from an ankle sprain, has yet to make his NBA regular-season debut.
  • Forwards Wenyen Gabriel and Caleb Swanigan were assigned to the G League by the Kings, the team announced in a press release. The duo will play tonight for the Stockton Kings, Sacramento’s NBAGL affiliate.
  • Former first-round center Justin Patton continues to bounce back and forth between the NBA and the G League, having been sent to the Oklahoma City Blue today by the Thunder, per a team release. It’s the fifth NBAGL assignment this month for Patton.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/13/19

Here are Wednesday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA G League:

  • The Bucks assigned Thanasis Antetokounmpo and former lottery draft pick Dragan Bender to their G League affiliate in Oshkosh, the Wisconsin Herd, according to a press release. The 6’6″ Antetokounmpo, older brother to reigning MVP Giannis, has played exactly once, for six minutes during Milwaukee’s 123-91 November 1st defeat of the Magic. He is on a two-year, minimum-salary deal. Bender has not seen NBA court action at all this season.
  • The Thunder have recalled Justin Patton from the Oklahoma City Blue, according to a team press release. The injury-plagued third year center out of Creighton has also played just six minutes in one game this season, a 120-92 October 27th rout of the Warriors.
  • The Kings initially assigned third-year power forward Caleb Swanigan and rookies Wenyen Gabriel, Justin James and to the team’s NBA G League affiliate, the Stockton Kings, according to a team press release. ABC10 Sacramento reporter Sean Cunningham tweets that Swanigan was initially going to suit up for Stockton tonight, but due to an injured ankle was recalled back to Sacramento instead (Twitter link). Gabriel and James aren’t in Sacramento’s rotation but will get a chance to play in Stockton tonight.
  • The Sixers assigned second-year power forward Jonah Bolden to their G League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats, tweets Rich Hofmann of The Athletic. The UCLA vet has averaged one point a game in two appearances this season.

Kings Won’t Pick Up 2020/21 Options On Giles, Swanigan

The Kings are declining two of their four rookie scale options for the 2020/21 season, a league source tells James Ham of NBC Sports California (Twitter link). According to Ham, Sacramento won’t be picking up the fourth-year options for Harry Giles ($3,976,510) or Caleb Swanigan ($3,665,787).

As expected, Sacramento has exercised its fourth-year option on De’Aaron Fox ($8,099,627) and its third-year option on Marvin Bagley III ($8,963,640). Those were procedural moves and were never in doubt. However, the decisions on Giles and Swanigan are a little more interesting.

Giles, the 20th overall pick in the 2017 draft, has been plagued by knee issues since entering the league. Injuries cost him his entire rookie year and limited him to 58 games (14.1 MPG) in 2018/19. He has also yet to play this season as he battles knee pain.

Given his upside, I still though Sacramento would likely exercise Giles’ 2020/21 option. However, it appears the club decided the risk outweighed the reward when it came to guaranteeing nearly $4MM for the big man.

The Kings’ option decision on Swanigan is less surprising. The former Purdue power forward has averaged just 2.1 PPG and 2.4 RPG in 51 career regular season contests with Portland and Sacramento, having never developed into a reliable rotation player.

Giles and Swanigan, two of just four players around the NBA who have had their rookie scale options turned down, will both become unrestricted free agents in 2020 as a result of today’s decisions. At that time, Sacramento won’t be able to offer them a starting salary worth more than the value of their declined options.

Meanwhile, Fox will become extension-eligible next July, while Bagley has one more option on his rookie scale contract for the 2021/22 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.