D.J. Wilson

Central Notes: Love, Hutchison, Ilyasova, Parker

Trade talks involving Cavaliers forward Kevin Love will heat up in the coming weeks, Marc Stein of the New York Times predicts in his latest newsletter. Love, who signed a four-year, $120MM extension over the summer, becomes trade eligible on January 24th. Love is still sidelined after undergoing toe surgery but could return to action sometime this month. Love is still regarded by some NBA executives as a difference-maker who could be available despite the Cavaliers’ insistence they don’t want to deal him, according to Stein. The Nuggets might be a team to watch, since they have coveted Love for years and may be in a win-now mode, Stein adds.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Bulls first-round pick Chandler Hutchison has embraced the role of defensive stopper, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times writes. Hutchison is averaging a modest 4.2 PPG and 3.5 RPG in 17.2 MPG but he has heeded coach Jim Boylen’s urging to become a defensive presence. “For me right away that was the first thing I noticed was I can help the team,’’ Hutchison told Cowley. “Then one thing leads to the next if you can help the team. Coaches are going to find a way to get you on the floor, which is a reward for me, but also if I can help the team in areas that we need help, it’s going to help us win.’’
  • Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer plans to keep power forward Ersan Ilyasova in the rotation when he returns from a fractured nose that required surgery, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Ilyasova, who suffered the injury during a December 16th practice, could return to action this weekend. Second-year man D.J. Wilson has played well in his absence. “Ersan’s somebody that we think we’ll find minutes for and then (with) those young guys, keep trying to figure out how we can keep them involved and growing and developing, but I guess for me it’s a couple days away,” Budenholzer said.
  • The Bulls have tried to package forward Jabari Parker with the expiring contracts of either swingman Justin Holiday or center Robin Lopez in preliminary trade talks, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports. Parker, who has been benched by Boylen, has a $20MM team option on his contract for next season. Holiday is making approximately $4.4MM, while Lopez is pulling in $14.35MM this season.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/15/18

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

  • The Bucks have recalled forward D.J. Wilson from their Wisconsin affiliate, the team announced on its website. Wilson averaged 17.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in two games with the Herd during his latest assignment.
  • The Pelicans recalled rookie guard Frank Jackson from the Texas Legends, according to a press release from the team. Jackson was assigned to play for the Legends last night and contributed 20 points in a win over Austin.
  • The Jazz assigned center Tony Bradley to the Salt Lake City Stars, the team announced on Twitter. Bradley is averaging 14.8 PPG and 7.6 RPG in 12 G League games.
  • The Wizards sent first-round pick Troy Brown to the Capital City GoGo for tonight’s game, according to a tweet from the team.
  • The Warriors assigned Jacob Evans to their Santa Cruz affiliate, tweets Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News. Evans has seen little action in Golden State and is going to the G League to get some playing time.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/11/18

As we detailed earlier today in a full story, the Knicks assigned veteran wing Courtney Lee to the G League to get in some minutes and improve his conditioning. Lee struggled a little with his shot for the Westchester Knicks on Tuesday night, scoring 16 points on 7-of-21 shooting (1-of-9 on threes).

Here are the rest of today’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

Assignments:

  • The Jazz assigned Grayson Allen and Georges Niang to the Salt Lake City Stars in advance of the team’s game tonight against Austin, the team announced in a press release.
  • Rookie point guard Elie Okobo was assigned to the G League today by the Suns, as Gina Mizell of The Athletic relays (via Twitter). Okobo, who has been in and out of Phoenix’s rotation this season, started at the point for Northern Arizona tonight.
  • The Bucks assigned D.J. Wilson to the G League in advance of the Wisconsin Herd’s two-game road trip this week, according to the club (Twitter link). A first-rounder in 2017, Wilson still isn’t part of Milwaukee’s rotation, having played just two games for the Bucks this season.
  • Sixers rookie Jonah Bolden was recalled from the G League this morning, then re-assigned several hours later, per Derek Bodner of The Athletic (Twitter links). Bolden has averaged a double-double in four G League contests, posting 15.5 PPG and 12.3 RPG in Delaware.

Recalls:

  • After helping lead the Memphis Hustle to a Monday victory with 25 points and 10 boards, Ivan Rabb was recalled to the NBA today by the Grizzlies, according to the club (Twitter link).
  • The Hawks recalled Daniel Hamilton from Erie, as Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. Hamilton posted back-to-back double-doubles for the BayHawks during his latest G League stint.
  • 2018 first-round pick Troy Brown was recalled to the NBA by the Wizards, the team announced today (via Twitter). Brown has averaged 18.3 PPG on 47.5% in four NBAGL games this season.
  • The Pelicans have recalled Frank Jackson from the G League, per a team press release. New Orleans doesn’t have its own affiliate, so Jackson had been with the Texas Legends, Dallas’ NBAGL squad.
  • The Bucks recalled Christian Wood from the Wisconsin Herd today, according to RealGM’s transactions log. Wood has appeared sparingly in just six games for Milwaukee in 2018/19.

Central Notes: Cavs, Boylan, Bulls, Bucks

As if there wasn’t enough drama in Cleveland already this season, the Cavaliers are now the subject of another unusual story. As Dan Feldman of NBC Sports relays, former Cavs assistant Jim Boylan has sued the team, along with owner Dan Gilbert and Koby Altman, for age discrimination.

Boylan’s lawsuit claims that Tyronn Lue left Boylan a voicemail informing him that Altman and the Cavaliers wouldn’t be picking up his option for 2018/19 since they wanted to “go younger.” Boylan subsequently had a conversation with Altman during which the GM confirmed that the Cavs wanted a younger coach, suggesting that the decision to move on from Boylan had nothing to do with his performance, per the suit.

The Cavaliers responded to the lawsuit today, calling it “frivolous” and referring to it as a “shameless cash grab.” Pointing out that Boylan simply had an option declined and wasn’t fired, the Cavs’ statement accused the assistant coach’s lawyers of attempting to shame the franchise into a settlement by releasing Lue’s voicemail.

As we wait to see what tomorrow brings in Cleveland, let’s round up a few more Central notes…

Bucks Exercise 2019/20 Options On Maker, Wilson

The Bucks have picked up the 2019/20 rookie scale options for former first-round picks Thon Maker and D.J. Wilson, according to Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (via Twitter). Velazquez suggests that the Bucks “love” both players and consider them important parts of the club’s present and future.

Maker, the 10th overall pick in the 2016 draft, had a promising rookie season, but didn’t take a noticeable step forward in 2017/18 and has seen inconsistent minutes so far this season. Still, the 21-year-old big man has plenty of upside and his fourth-year option isn’t expensive, with a cap hit of $3,569,643, making the decision a fairly easy one for the Bucks.

The decision to pick up Wilson’s $2,961,120 third-year option is a little more surprising. The second-year forward played just 71 total minutes in his rookie season and hasn’t seen any action so far this season.

Wilson, the 17th pick in the 2017 draft, has been slowed by a hamstring issue this year, but it’s not clear if he’ll be part of the rotation even when he gets healthy, as there were rumblings during the preseason that he wasn’t even a lock for the regular season roster. However, the Bucks are apparently still high enough on him to guarantee his 2019/20 salary.

NBA teams must make their final decisions on rookie scale options for 2019/20 by Wednesday.

Several Teams Must Make Moves Before Monday’s Roster Deadline

Saturday was a busy day in terms of NBA transactions, with most of the league’s 30 clubs making cuts and getting their rosters down to the regular season limit. As we explained over the weekend, players on non-guaranteed contracts must clear waivers before the first day of the regular season in order to avoid counting at all against a team’s salary cap, which is why most of those players were released on Saturday instead of today.

However, not every team now has a roster in compliance with NBA rules. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, the Clippers, Suns, Bucks, Pistons, and Spurs still need to make roster moves by 4:00pm CT today in order to get down to the regular season limit. Teams are permitted to carry no more than 15 players on standard contracts and two more on two-way deals entering the season.

Here’s a quick look at the decisions facing those five teams:

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers need to trim their roster from 17 standard contracts to 15. Normally, the guys on non-guaranteed contracts would be the most obvious candidates to be cut, but I’d be surprised if the team parts ways with Patrick Beverley or Tyrone Wallace.

Instead, players on guaranteed salaries like Jawun Evans, Wesley Johnson, and Sindarius Thornwell could be in trouble if the Clips can’t find any trades they like.

Phoenix Suns

Like the Clippers, the Suns have 17 players on standard contracts, with multiple vets on non-guaranteed deals whom they’d like to keep. If Phoenix keeps all 14 players with guaranteed salaries, that would leave just one spot for Richaun Holmes, Shaquille Harrison, and Isaiah Canaan.

Of the players with guarantees, Darrell Arthur is the most obvious release candidate, but if the club keeps him before getting an answer from the league on its disabled player exception request, it won’t be eligible for that DPE.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that the Suns will be granted that disabled player exception anyway. Marks wrote on Saturday that multiple team executives were “dumbfounded” by what season-ending injury Arthur could have suffered since being acquired by Phoenix in July. While the big man has been bothered by recurring knee injuries in recent years, the team hasn’t announced any new ailments or listed him on its injury report.

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks have 16 players on standard contracts, meaning one player will need to be traded or released today. Christian Wood, who has one of the team’s two non-guaranteed contracts, appears likely to make the team. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the other player on a non-guaranteed deal – Tim Frazier – will be waived though.

The decision may come down to Frazier vs. former first-round pick D.J. Wilson. Although Wilson has a guaranteed salary for 2018/19, his roster spot is “far from secure,” per Keith Smith of RealGM.com (Twitter link).

Detroit Pistons

The Pistons have 15 players on guaranteed contracts and two on two-way deals, leaving no clear openings for the club’s final non-guaranteed player, Zach Lofton. The undrafted free agent has impressed Detroit this fall though, so we’ll see if the club can find room for him, perhaps by having him supplant one of the current two-way players (Reggie Hearn and Keenan Evans).

San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs‘ final move is a mere formality. Manu Ginobili, who announced his retirement this summer, technically remains on the roster, but he should be quietly waived today. Once that happens, San Antonio will have 15 players on standard contracts – including partially guaranteed veteran Quincy Pondexter – and one on a two-way deal.

Note: The Bulls and Rockets also still need to officially convert players on Exhibit 10 contracts to two-way deals. Chicago will reportedly do so with Tyler Ulis, while Houston will do so with Gary Clark and Vince Edwards.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Five Rookie Scale Options That May Not Be Exercised

Team and player options on veteran contracts must be exercised by the end of June before the new league year begins on July 1, but the same rules don’t apply to team options in rookie scale contracts. First-round picks who signed standard rookie contracts have third- and fourth-year options included in their deals, and those options must be exercised – or declined – seven months early.

The deadline for rookie scale option decisions is October 31, which means that teams have about another month to decide whether to pick up those options for the 2019/20 season.

It’s an unusual structure, one that forces teams to make decisions before seeing how their players will perform on the court that season. Last fall, for instance, the Magic turned down their fourth-year option on Mario Hezonja for 2018/19. Hezonja subsequently enjoyed his best season as a pro, and instead of entering the final year of his rookie contract with Orlando, he was able to hit the open market and secure a larger salary with the Knicks.

Cases like Hezonja’s are rare, however. For the most part, teams will exercise their rookie scale options, particularly third-year options. Third-year options are generally pretty affordable, and decisions are due after a player has been in the NBA for just one season, so clubs are reluctant to give up on their first-round picks that early.

Still, while many of this year’s rookie scale option decisions will be no-brainers, there are at least a small handful of players who aren’t locks to have their options picked up. Here’s a look at five players who fall into that category:

  1. D.J. Wilson, Bucks (third year, $2,961,120): Wilson had some good games in the G League last season, but his overall NBAGL numbers were just okay for a first-round pick, and he only played 72 minutes in 22 NBA games. As noted above, teams often don’t give up this early on first-round picks, and Wilson’s cap charge is affordable enough that it’s probably worth securing him for at least one more year. This isn’t a slam-dunk though.
  2. Malachi Richardson, Raptors (fourth year, $2,581,597): When the Raptors sent Bruno Caboclo to Sacramento in exchange for Richardson at last season’s trade deadline, it reduced their 2017/18 payroll and increased their flexibility to make a move on the buyout market. But it also meant taking on Richardson’s guarantee for 2018/19, while Caboclo’s contract expired. Richardson seems unlikely to have any sort of role this season on a deep, talented Toronto team, and with the club at risk of being in the tax again in 2019/20, I don’t expect the Raps to lock in Richardson for another year.
  3. Guerschon Yabusele (third year, $3,117,240): While the “Dancing Bear” has no shortage of fans in Boston, it’s hard to see how he’ll earn playing time in a frontcourt that features Al Horford, Aron Baynes, Semi Ojeleye, Daniel Theis, and first-rounder Robert Williams — especially if Jayson Tatum and/or Gordon Hayward see significant minutes at the four. Yabusele has promise, but with the Celtics now in the tax, it might make sense to use his roster spot on a minimum-salary player starting in 2019/20.
  4. Malik Beasley, Nuggets (fourth year, $2,731,714): Denver’s lack of reliable backcourt depth bodes well for Beasley, who could parlay a solid Summer League showing into a regular backup role at shooting guard. The Nuggets don’t have serious tax concerns for 2019/20, so exercising Beasley’s modestly-priced option wouldn’t be a major risk. Still, it would be an easier decision if he’d shown more improvement in his sophomore season. Instead, he posted just 3.2 PPG on 41.0% shooting in 62 games in 2017/18.
  5. Justin Patton, Timberwolves (third year, $3,117,240): After missing nearly all of his rookie season due to foot problems, Patton has undergone another foot procedure this month, raising some doubts about his availability for the 2018/19 season. Nonetheless, I expect the Timberwolves will want to give Patton another chance to get healthy before cutting their losses on him, particularly since he may soon be the lone piece remaining from last summer’s trade with the Bulls.

For a full breakdown of this year’s decisions on 2019/20 rookie scale options, click here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Central Rumors: LeBron, Bucks, Stephenson, Pistons

LeBron James‘ player-option decision is due this Friday, and he’s “widely expected” to turn down that option, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. According to Vardon, James is close to making a decision and the Cavaliers are “generally aware of his thinking.”

If James does opt out, it would significantly hamstring the ability of several over-the-cap suitors to make a serious run at him. If LeBron reaches free agency, teams with cap room like the Lakers and Sixers would be his most viable landing spots, along with the Cavaliers.

For what it’s worth, Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com has heard within the last week from two members of the 2017/18 Cavaliers – a player and a team official – that they believe the Cavs have the best chance of any team to sign James. Within his article, McMenamin explains why a return to Cleveland could make some sense for the future Hall-of-Famer.

Here’s more from around the Central division:

  • Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times hears from NBA sources and officials that Eric Bledsoe, Matthew Dellavedova, and D.J. Wilson are among the players the Bucks have been willing to discuss in trades this summer.
  • After declining Lance Stephenson‘s team option, the Pacers could still bring him back later in free agency. However, league sources tell Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com (Twitter link) not to rule out the Bulls as a potential suitor for Stephenson.
  • The Pistons lack the cap space to be a major player in free agency, but the team could be in the mix for certain affordable targets. As Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes, Dwane Casey‘s presence and the Pistons’ roster stability could be selling points as the club recruits free agents.
  • Frank Urbina of HoopsHype.com identifies a few potential landing spots for Cavaliers guard Rodney Hood, suggesting the Heat, Pacers, and Bulls could be decent fits for the restricted free agent.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 3/11/18

Here are Sunday’s G League moves from around the NBA:

  • The Bucks recalled rookie forward D.J. Wilson from the Wisconsin Herd, according to the Bucks’ Twitter feed. Wilson scored 19 points for the Herd against the Westchester Knicks Saturday night. He’s appeared in 10 G League games, averaging 15.6 PPG and 5.6 RPG. Wilson, the 17th overall pick last June out of Michigan, has played in 20 games for the Bucks but is only averaging 3.4 MPG.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 3/4/18

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

  • The Spurs have assigned guard Derrick White to their G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs, the team announced today in a press release. White has averaged 2.5 PPG and 1.4 RPG in 16 games with San Antonio this season.
  • The Bucks recalled rookie power forward D.J. Wilson from the Wisconsin Herd, the team announced on its Twitter feed. The first-round pick is averaging 14.9 PPG and 5.2 RPG in nine G League games.
  • The Wizards have assigned third-year forward Chris McCullough to the G League, according to the team. Washington doesn’t have a G League team of its own, so McCullough will join Phoenix’s affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns. He has appeared in 12 games with Northern Arizona this season.