Chimezie Metu

Western Notes: Wall, Lakers, Rockets, Sabonis, Queta, Metu

John Wall, who didn’t play last season for the Rockets, has looked sharp in offseason workouts, according to Marc Stein in a Substack post. Wall reached a buyout agreement this summer and signed with the Clippers after clearing waivers. Wall is expected to have a significant role with the Clippers, either as the starting point guard or as Reggie Jackson‘s backup.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Lakers are about to let a traded player exception lapse. Their TPE of $2,692,991 generated in a deal with the Grizzlies will expire if they don’t make use of it on Monday. In that swap, the Lakers sent Marc Gasol, a 2024 second-round pick, and cash to Memphis in exchange for the draft rights to 2016 second-rounder Wang Zhelin. Memphis soon waived Gasol, who returned to Europe.
  • A fan survey conducted by Kelly Iko of The Athletic shows that Rockets supporters are pleased with the direction of the franchise. Even though fans anticipate Houston having little to no chance of making even the play-in tournament during the upcoming season, 90 percent of them have a positive view of the team’s “process” and a similar amount are “confident” or “very confident” in GM Rafael Stone and the front office.
  • The Kings’ Domantas Sabonis, Neemias Queta and Chimezie Metu had productive outings for their teams in FIBA World Cup qualifiers, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee notes. Sabonis led Lithuania to two victories in Group K, while Queta recorded two double-doubles to help Portugal win a pair of games in Group F. Nigeria went 1-2 in Group E but Metu also contributed two double-doubles.

Kings Guarantee Chimezie Metu’s Contract For 2022/23

The Kings are guaranteeing Chimezie Metu‘s $1,910,860 salary for next season, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Woj technically reported that it’s a team option, which isn’t the case, but Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee confirms the news (via Twitter) that Metu’s salary has been guaranteed.

The 48th pick of the 2018 draft, Metu was a rotation regular for the Kings in 2021/22, appearing in 60 games (20 starts, 21.3 MPG) with averages of 8.9 PPG and 5.6 RPG on .452/.306/.780 shooting. It was his most productive season in the NBA, posting career-highs in games played, minutes, points and rebounds.

Metu spent his first couple of seasons with the Spurs prior to being waived in 2020. He was picked up by Sacramento soon after, waived, re-signed on a two-way deal, and then promoted to a standard contract. The 25-year-old should provide some versatile frontcourt depth for the Kings in ’22/23, as Metu is capable of playing both power forward and center.

Kings Notes: Gentry, Jones, Metu, Mitchell

Alvin Gentry will likely coach his final game with the Kings today, but he didn’t want to talk about his future Saturday night, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. In a pre-game meeting with reporters, Gentry brushed aside the topic when asked if he wants to remain with the organization beyond this season.

“I’ve not talked to anybody about that and I’m sure that’s going to come quickly after the season is over, so I’ll leave it at that,” Gentry said. “I’m sure that’s something that’s going to happen pretty quickly after the season.”

Gentry, who started the season as the team’s associate head coach, was promoted to interim coach in November when Sacramento decided to fire Luke Walton 17 games into the season. Gentry was previously able to remain as head coach of the Pistons and Suns after taking over those teams on an interim basis, but it doesn’t appear that will happen with the Kings, who are reportedly looking at established names such as Mike D’Antoni and Terry Stotts, among others.

There’s more from Sacramento:

  • More changes are expected after another losing season, and they could include Damian Jones, who is headed for free agency after spending his first full season with the Kings. The 26-year-old center played 55 games this year, starting 14, and averaged a career-high 7.9 points per night. “We’ll see what happens in the summer,” he said Saturday when asked about his free agent plans. “… I’ve gained more chemistry with the guys and we see eye-to-eye on some things, so we’ll see what happens when that time comes.” (Twitter link from Anderson)
  • Chimezie Metu is also uncertain about his future, tweets James Ham of ESPN 1320. Metu became a regular part of a rotation this season for the first time in his four-year NBA career, playing 59 games and averaging 8.9 points and 5.6 rebounds in 21.2 minutes per night. However, his $1.91MM contract for next season is non-guaranteed. “The one thing I learned about this league really fast is that situations can change really fast,” Metu said. “You can’t fall in love with your situation, whether it’s good or bad. Wherever I end up, whether it’s here, another team, it is what it is.”
  • Losing has been an adjustment for Davion Mitchell, who won an NCAA title last season at Baylor, but he believes things are going to improve, Anderson adds in a separate story. Before setting the franchise mark for assists by a rookie in a single game earlier this week, Mitchell addressed Sacramento fans and promised, “This offseason we’re going to get better and make you guys proud.”

Injury/COVID Notes: Gobert, Mitchell, FVV, Barnes, Banes, More

Jazz stars Rudy Gobert (left calf strain) and Donovan Mitchell (concussion protocol) continue to be sidelined and will miss Wednesday’s game against the Suns, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link). It will be Gobert’s second consecutive absence, while Mitchell has missed five straight. Both players are having strong seasons for the reeling Jazz, who are 4-9 in their last 13 games (30-18 overall, fourth in the West).

Here are some more injury and COVID-related notes from around the NBA:

  • The Raptors are playing without Fred VanVleet (knee soreness) and Scottie Barnes (swollen right wrist) on Tuesday night against Charlotte. Coach Nick Nurse called VanVleet “day-to-day,” while Barnes was a late scratch, as Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports relays (all Twitter links). VanVleet could be an All-Star this season, averaging 21.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.7 steals on .421/.393/.870 shooting through 41 games. He leads the league in minutes per game at 38.2. Barnes is one of the leading candidates for the Rookie of the Year award.
  • Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane has rejoined the team after clearing the league’s health and safety protocols, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon tweets.
  • De’Aaron Fox (ankle) and Chimezie Metu (knee) were both late scratches for the Kings on Tuesday at Boston, Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee writes. Thankfully, coach Alvin Gentry said neither injury is serious. “It’s no big deal,” Gentry said. “If this was a playoff series or something, they would be playing, but it’s precautionary measures and stuff.”
  • Spurs forward Keita Bates-Diop has entered the health and safety protocols, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter).
  • Matisse Thybulle returned to action for the Sixers against New Orleans on Tuesday after a five-game absence. Thybulle suffered a sprained shoulder after being pushed in the back on a dunk by Dennis Schroder, resulting in a flagrant foul, according to Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

COVID-19 Updates: Powell, Kings, Pacers, Lopez, Springer, Pons

Trail Blazers wing Norman Powell entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Sunday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

As our tracker shows, Powell is currently the only Portland player in the protocols. However, the Trail Blazers are also missing Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum due to injuries, so Powell’s absence means the team is without its three top scorers. Lillard, McCollum, and Powell are averaging a combined 63.2 points per game so far this season.

Here are more protocol-related updates from around the NBA:

  • The Kings added one big man – center Damian Jones – to the protocols on Sunday as another – forward/center Chimezie Metu – exited, per reports from James Ham of ESPN 1320 and Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter links).
  • Pacers swingman Torrey Craig and center Isaiah Jackson were back at practice on Sunday, signaling they’ve cleared the protocols, tweets James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. Indiana still has four players in the protocols.
  • Robin Lopez remained sidelined for Sunday’s game vs. Washington, but the Magic center was no longer listed in the protocols, having progressed to return to competition reconditioning (Twitter link via Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel).
  • Sixers rookie Jaden Springer has exited the protocols, but has been ruled out for Monday’s game in Houston due to a non-COVID illness, as Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer relays (via Twitter).
  • Grizzlies two-way player Yves Pons was placed in the health and safety protocols on Saturday, but was no longer listed in the protocols for Sunday’s game, suggesting he registered a false positive or inconclusive test (Twitter links).

COVID-19 Updates: Noel, Hornets, Pacers, Ingles, Reed, Bucks, Metu

Knicks center Nerlens Noel has cleared the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, per New York’s PR team (Twitter link). Noel entered the protocols in late December.

The 6’11” big man has only appeared in 17 contests, starting 10, for New York so far this season. The 27-year-old out of Kentucky is averaging 3.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.5 BPG and 1.1 SPG across 23.1 MPG. Knee injuries kept Noel absent for much of the start of the 2021/22 season. He signed a lucrative three-year, $32MM contract with the Knicks during the offseason.

Here are a few more protocol-related updates:

Kings Notes: Gentry, Haliburton, Walton, Metu, Barnes

New Kings head coach Alvin Gentry called out his players and apologized to fans after a disappointing collapse against the Lakers on Tuesday night, and was pleased with how the players responded against the Clippers on Wednesday, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. The Kings jumped out to a double-digit first-half lead for a second straight night — this time they held on for a victory.

“They’re a good bunch of players. They’re a good bunch of kids and I think they want to do the right thing,” Gentry said. “I just wanted to remind them that we have to do it on a consistent basis, but I thought the response was great.”

Here’s more on the Kings:

  • Second-year guard Tyrese Haliburton said on Wednesday that the Kings’ players bear the responsibility for producing consistently and that former head coach Luke Walton shouldn’t have been blamed for their inability to do so. “We as players know we have to be better,” Haliburton said, per Anderson. “It seemed like Luke was a scapegoat at times when we weren’t playing well. People were blaming him, but at the end of the day it’s on us as basketball players and we have to be better. It’s not on any staffs. It’s not on any front office. It’s not on anybody except the guys on the court.”
  • Chimezie Metu‘s $1,762,796 salary for 2021/22, which had been partially guaranteed for $881,398, was set to become fully guaranteed if he remained under contract through Wednesday, as Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Teams and players sometimes agree to push those guarantee dates back, but there has been no indication that Metu and the Kings took that route, so we’re assuming for now that the big man’s salary for this season is fully guaranteed. His $1,910,860 salary for 2022/23 remains non-guaranteed.
  • Harrison Barnes, who has missed the Kings’ past four games due to a right foot sprain, was sent to the Stockton Kings on Thursday to practice with the G League club, Anderson writes for The Sacramento Bee. Barnes’ NBAGL assignment will be brief, as he’ll be recalled in order to practice on Friday with the NBA squad, tweets Sean Cunningham of ABC 10 Sacramento.

Early NBA Salary Guarantee Dates For 2021/22

There are currently 30 players on standard NBA contracts whose 2021/22 salaries aren’t yet fully guaranteed. In most cases, those players will receive their full guarantees if they remain under contract through January 7. Because the league-wide salary guarantee date is January 10, a player must clear waivers before that date if a team wants to avoid being on the hook for his full salary.

A handful of players have earlier trigger dates, however. Those players will receive either full guarantees or an increased partial guarantee on certain dates before January 7.

These dates are fairly malleable — if a player and team reach an agreement, they can be pushed back. The Raptors took that route with Isaac Bonga and Sam Dekker, for example. Both players were originally on track to have their full minimum-salary contracts for 2021/22 become guaranteed if they made the team’s opening-night roster. However, they agreed to push their guarantee dates back a few weeks, to November 6.

Those agreements between a player and team aren’t always reported right away, so our list of early salary guarantee dates is a tentative one, based on information from Basketball Insiders, Spotrac, and HoopsHype, as well as our own data.

Here are the salary guarantee dates to watch prior to January 7:

November 6:

  • Isaac Bonga (Raptors): Partial guarantee ($250,000) increases to full guarantee ($1,729,217).
  • Sam Dekker (Raptors): Partial guarantee ($350,000) increases to full guarantee ($1,789,256).

December 1:

  • Chimezie Metu (Kings): Partial guarantee ($881,398) increases to full guarantee ($1,762,796).

December 11:

  • PJ Dozier (Nuggets): Partial guarantee ($400,000) increases to full guarantee ($1,910,860).

December 15:

  • DeAndre’ Bembry (Nets): Partial guarantee ($750,000) increases to larger partial guarantee ($1,250,000).
  • Kenrich Williams (Thunder): Partial guarantee increases to full guarantee ($2,000,000).
    • Note: Williams’ partial guarantee is based on a salary of about $11,494 per day. For instance, 30 days into the regular season, he’ll have earned $344,828.

California Notes: Iguodala, Bledsoe, Metu, Longabardi

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr is excited to have veteran swingman Andre Iguodala back for his second stint with the club, writes Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.

“He means the world to us,” Kerr told Poole, echoing a sentiment he recently expressed to The Athletic. “The last two seasons, we’ve been somewhat rudderless in many ways. I suspect we’re going to get our rudder back with Andre.”

Iguodala signed a one-year, minimum-salary contract with Golden State after spending the last two seasons with the Grizzlies (for whom he never played) and Heat.

There’s more out of California:

  • The Clippers‘ reunion with point guard Eric Bledsoe received an A-minus grade from Kevin Pelton of ESPN. Bledsoe was re-acquired in a trade this week that sent point guards Patrick Beverley and Rajon Rondo and center Daniel Oturu to the Grizzlies. Pelton praised the cost savings of the deal, which will amount to a reduction of about $30MM off L.A.’s luxury tax bill. Pelton also notes that the younger, more durable Bledsoe could prove to be an on-court upgrade for the Clippers as well, though he struggled in recent playoff appearances with the Bucks.
  • Fourth-year Kings center Chimezie Metu has been suspended for one Summer League game after punching two-way rookie Mavericks forward Eugene Omoruyi in the head during the fourth quarter of an eventual 86-70 win Sunday, per an NBA press release (Twitter link). Metu will miss the Summer League title game on Tuesday against the Celtics.
  • The Kings will be hiring Mike Longabardi as a front-of-bench assistant coach, per Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link). Longabardi, most recently an assistant with the Wizards since 2019, won the 2008 title as a Celtics assistant and the 2016 championship as a Cavaliers assistant.

Pacific Notes: Kawhi, Metu, Batum, Fitts

The Clippers will have most of their key players from last season coming back in 2021/22, but Kawhi Leonard‘s health remains a major question mark. Leonard, of course, suffered a partially torn ACL in the playoffs this spring, an injury that could force him to miss much (or all) of next season.

As Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times writes, it’s been one month since Leonard underwent surgery on his right knee. He’ll need a significant amount of time to rehab the injury, but it’s possible he could be ready to play before the 2022 postseason begins in mid-April.

“In Kawhi’s case it will be a little less than a year, which is very doable,” said Alan Beyer, executive medical director and orthopedic surgeon at Orange County’s Hoag Orthopedic Institute. “No two players are alike, so some would take seven or eight months to come back. With the caliber of these players, I would not rush. But I certainly would give him the full nine to 10 months at least before I’d expect to see him back.”

Leonard recently signed a new four-year deal with the Clippers, cementing his long-term status with the franchise. He averaged 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 52 games last season, shooting 51% from the floor.

Here are some other notes from the Pacific:

  • Kings center Chimezie Metu swung at Mavericks two-way player Eugene Omoruyi during the team’s summer league game on Sunday, as relayed by ESPN (video link). Such a play typically warrants a suspension from the NBA. Metu’s frustration stemmed from Omoruyi’s hard foul, one that occurred as Metu was in mid-air. The 24-year-old Metu suffered a broken wrist last season after being fouled in mid-air by Jonas Valanciunas.
  • Nicolas Batum‘s new contract with the Clippers is a two-year, $6.49MM deal, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (Twitter link). The deal, completed using his Non-Bird rights, includes a player option worth $3.3MM in the second season.
  • The Clippers are adding forward Malik Fitts to their summer league team, according to Law Murray of The Athletic (Twitter link). Fitts signed a 10-day contract with the team back in April.