Damien Wilkins

And-Ones: Seattle, Wilkins, Trash Talk, Lottery

Last week, we touched upon how the NBA is planning to hold a preseason game in Seattle next season, the first NBA game at KeyArena since the Sonics left after the 2007/08 season. Now, according to a report from ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, the ownership group that applied to bring the NHL to Seattle is leaving the door open for bringing an NBA franchise back to the city as well.

The Oak View Group, comprised of investment banker David Bonderman, longtime sports executive Tim Leiweke, and Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer, is hoping to found the NHL’s 32nd team, and the NHL is reportedly likely to accept the bid. The OVG plans to begin remodeling KeyArena this October with the hope to begin play during the 2020/21 season.

As for the potential for an NBA franchise, Leiweke says, “The way we are going to structure all of our contractually obligated income is making sure there will be revenue upside built in should the NBA ever consider Seattle. We are committed to making sure the building, all of our contracts, all of our partnerships and all of our relationships, are done in a way that we can maximize value.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Having been waived by the Pacers earlier this season, Damien Wilkins has been a man on a mission in the G League, averaging 29.2 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 5.0 APG for the Greensboro Swarm this month. As Scott Agness of VigilantSports.com details, the 38-year-old Wilkins badly wants to finish the season on an NBA roster.
  • In an entertaining piece for ESPN.com, Tim MacMahon and Law Murray break down some of the unwritten rules of NBA trash talking.
  • Speaking of entertaining pieces, Andrew Sharp of SI.com lays out his idea for a end-of-season tournament featuring non-playoff teams that would replace the draft lottery and determine the order of the top 14 picks.
  • With a win over Puerto Rico this week, Team USA clinched a spot in the second round of the qualifiers for the 2019 World Cup, per an AP report (link via USA Today). The next round of qualifying games begins in September.

Clark Crum contributed to this post.

Southeast Notes: Wade, Zeller, Wilkins, Magic

Dwyane Wade spent his first 13 seasons as a member of the Heat and he wants to finish his career with the organization. Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes that Wade, who is currently with the Cavaliers, wants to find a way back to South Beach before retirement.

“I have thought about it, of course. I wouldn’t lie and say I haven’t,” Wade said to Winderman of possibly rejoining the Heat. “When that opportunity comes, that day comes, hopefully, I can go out in a Miami Heat jersey. I don’t know how it will be, but I would love it.”

Wade, who recently turned 36, is enjoying a solid season off the bench for Cleveland, averaging 11.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 3.7 APG in 44 games. The Heat are in the midst of a strong season, sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with a 29-23 record. Wade said he has followed the team since his departure and is proud of how the team has meshed together to find success.

Ideally, Wade would finish his playing career with one final season in a Heat uniform. However, it is possible for Wade to sign a one-day ceremonial contract — similar to Paul Pierce with the Celtics — and officially retire as a member of the Heat.

Check out other news from the Southeast Division:

  • Cody Zeller made his return on Friday after missing 21 games with torn left meniscus, providing a jolt for the Hornets. Brendan Marks of the Charlotte Observer writes that while it’s too early to tell how well Zeller has recovered, he could play a pivotal role as the Hornets make a playoff push.
  • The Hornets’ G-League affiliate Greensboro Swarm announced that 10-year NBA veteran Damien Wilkins has joined the team. Wilkins started the year with the Pacers and now returns to the Swarm, a team he appeared in 48 games with last season.
  •  Magic general manager John Hammond does not characterize the 15-35 as sellers but acknowledged any moves Orlando makes at the deadline are with the future in mind, John Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel writes.

And-Ones: Wilkins, Pacers, Oubre, Young

Damien Wilkins, who was recently waived by the Pacers, envisions a future for himself in the NBA beyond playing for a team, as he tells David Aldridge of NBA.com.

“At the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, I really do want to work in the NBA,” Wilkins said. “I want to work in a front office. I want to be a front office exec one day. If that means starting from the coaching standpoint and moving up, that’s fine, too. I’m actually learning on the fly how to lead.”

Wilkins played in 19 games for Indiana this season after spending four seasons out of the league. He discussed how the game has changed since 2013 when he played for the Sixers.

“It’s a lot faster, that’s for sure,” Wilkins said. “You can tell that people now are like, in a hurry to get the ball. That’s how it seems. Everyone’s in a hurry to say, okay, go ahead. Literally, go ahead and score so we can get the ball back. That’s exactly what it feels like sometimes. Everyone’s like, we want to score, so do what you gotta do so we can get the ball inbounds so we can score.

“And the teams that play defense are the teams at the top of the league. It’s not rocket science. I’m surprised everyone hasn’t figured that out yet. You look at the Spurs and Golden State, even with their frantic pace, they still defend well. Boston is at the top of the league in defensive rating. Toronto, all those teams at the top. Houston has a better defensive roster this year, so it’s no surprise that they’re at the top of the league. That’s the changes I see; the game is a lot faster and everyone’s in such a hurry to get baskets, or to get shot attempts.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • A source tells Aldridge (same piece) that the Pacers could look to bring back Wilkins after the trade deadline. The soon-to-be 38-year-old averaged 1.7 points during his 19 contests with Indiana.
  • Kelly Oubre, who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension in the upcoming offseason, has turned to the corner for the Wizards, as Nate Wolf of NBAMath details. Wolf notes that Oubre has been key to Washington putting out a respectable bench unit, but also adds its second-unit has other concerns that could keep the Wizards from reaching their potential in the postseason.
  • Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz (in a collaborate Insider piece for ESPN) examine the play of Oklahoma freshman Trae Young. The scribes compare Young’s offense to that of Doug McDermott, Damian Lillard, Jimmer Fredette and Stephen Curry while adding that Young’s physical limitation may prevent him from being selected with a top selection in the upcoming draft.

Pacers To Waive Damien Wilkins

2:45pm: The Pacers have officially requested release waivers on Wilkins, thus ending his stint with the team, the organization announced in a press release.

12:57pm: The Pacers have decided to waive Damien Wilkins, tweets Shams Charania of The Vertical. The 37-year-old forward had a $2,116,995 guarantee that would have kicked in if he were kept on the roster past today.

Wilkins had been out of the league for four seasons before earning a roster spot with Indiana in the preseason. He was first signed by the SuperSonics in 2004 and played for six NBA teams throughout his career.

Wilkins averaged 1.7 points and 8.0 minutes of playing time in 19 games with the Pacers and made his only start of the season last night.


Pacers Sign Damien Wilkins

AUGUST 15: The Pacers have officially signed Wilkins, the team announced today in a press release.

JULY 20: Veteran swingman Damien Wilkins is making an NBA comeback, according to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders, who reports (via Twitter) that Wilkins and the Pacers have agreed to a one-year deal. It will be a veteran’s minimum contract, per Scotto.

Wilkins, 37, has 563 career regular season games on his NBA résumé, but hasn’t played in the league since he spent the 2012/13 campaign with the Sixers. Since then, Wilkins has bounced around various international and G League clubs, most recently spending the 2016/17 campaign with the Greensboro Swarm.

In 48 games last season for Charlotte’s G League affiliate, Wilkins averaged 14.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 3.8 APG, with a shooting line of .486/.358/.844.

While I wouldn’t expect Wilkins to have a substantial role for the Pacers in 2017/18, he’ll provide some veteran stability on a roster that has undergone significant changes this offseason, assuming he earns a spot on the 15-man regular season roster. However, Wilkins’ deal will be non-guaranteed, tweets Nate Taylor of The Indianapolis Star — that suggests the 37-year-old won’t be assured of a regular season roster spot.

Having lost Paul George, Jeff Teague, and C.J. Miles, Indiana has added Darren Collison, Victor Oladipo, Cory Joseph, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Domantas Sabonis this summer.

2016 NBA D-League Expansion Draft Results

The NBA D-League conducted its expansion draft today, allowing the league’s three new teams to add the rights to 12 players apiece. The league’s previously-existing 19 teams had been permitted to retain the rights to 10 players each, leaving the rest of their players unprotected and free to be drafted, as Chris Reichert of UpsideMotor.com explained earlier today.

As we noted on Tuesday, the D-League’s three new franchises this year are affiliates for the Nets (Long Island Nets), Hornets (Greensboro Swarm), and Bulls (Windy City Bulls).

The players those three teams added today won’t necessarily play for them this season — in fact, it’s somewhat rare for expansion draftees to suit up for their new clubs, as D-League Digest tweets. Many of those players will try to catch on with an NBA team or will end up playing overseas. Still, the expansion draft gives the D-League’s new teams some assets as they start to build their rosters for the coming season.

Per Reichert, here are the results of today’s expansion draft. The player’s former D-League team is noted in parentheses, and picks are ordered by round. The teams will hold their players’ rights for the next two seasons:

Long Island Nets (Twitter link)

  1. Gary Forbes (Grand Rapids Drive)
  2. Carrick Felix (Santa Cruz Warriors)
  3. Jamaal Franklin (Los Angeles D-Fenders)
  4. Akil Mitchell (Rio Grande Valley Vipers)
  5. Peyton Siva (Delaware 87ers)
  6. Alex Kirk (Canton Charge)
  7. Austin Freeman (Westchester Knicks)
  8. Kendall Gray (Iowa Energy)
  9. Lazar Hayward (Los Angeles D-Fenders)
  10. Dwayne Polee Jr. (Reno Bighorns)
  11. Matt Bouldin (Fort Wayne Mad Ants)
  12. Lewis Jackson (Salt Lake City Stars)

Greensboro Swarm (Twitter link)

  1. Josh Davis (Austin Spurs)
  2. Abdul Gaddy (Maine Red Claws)
  3. Tony Bishop (Rio Grande Valley Vipers)
  4. Scotty Hopson (Sioux Falls Skyforce)
  5. Toure’ Murry (Sioux Falls Skyforce)
  6. Rodney Williams (Oklahoma City Blue)
  7. Josh Huestis (Oklahoma City Blue)
  8. Ralston Turner (Grand Rapids Drive)
  9. Keanau Post (Raptors 905)
  10. Damien Wilkins (Iowa Energy)
  11. Kris Joseph (Westchester Knicks)
  12. Dee Bost (Raptors 905)

Windy City Bulls (Twitter link)

  1. Wesley Saunders (Austin Spurs)
  2. Kiwi Gardner (Santa Cruz Warriors)
  3. Ralph Sampson III (Maine Red Claws)
  4. Booker Woodfox (Texas Legends)
  5. Jerel McNeal (Northern Arizona Suns)
  6. Akeem Richmond (Reno Bighorns)
  7. Casey Prather (Northern Arizona Suns)
  8. Jon Octeus (Canton Charge)
  9. Justin Dentmon (Texas Legends)
  10. Jamal Jones (Delaware 87ers)
  11. Xavier Thames (Fort Wayne Mad Ants)
  12. Ian Chiles (Salt Lake City Stars)

Southeast Notes: Johnson, Heat, Murry

Heat shooting guard Tyler Johnson will have his contract fully guaranteed for the season on opening night, becoming the 14th of the 15 players on the roster to have such security, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel reports. Winderman tweeted Saturday that the terms of Johnson’s contract were reworked so that his full guarantee kicks in with the start of the regular season instead of the leaguewide guarantee date in January.

Here’s more from around the Southeast Division:

  • In discussing the composition of the team’s roster Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said cutting  John Lucas III was a tough decision, Winderman relays. Lucas was among five players the Heat waived educe Miami’s roster to 15 players, the regular season maximum.
  • Damien Wilkins, who was recently waived by the Hornets, has signed a deal overseas to play for Guaros de Lara of Venezuela, Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia reports. Wilkins, 35, had spent the 2012/13 season with the Sixers. He has played overseas and in the D-League since.
  • Toure’ Murry, who was waived by the Wizards, will start the season in the D-League, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today Sports tweets.
  • Magic rookie Mario Hezonja seems to be adjusting well to life in the United States and the caliber of play in the league, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel writes. “He’s progressing for sure,” coach Scott Skiles said. “What we’ve been talking to him about is he has a tendency, like a lot of young players, [where] he checks into the game at whatever point we put him in and teams either go right at him or plays are occurring that he’s not yet comfortable with, and he gets taken advantage of often.”

Hornets Waive Four Players

The Hornets have parted ways with center Jason Washburn, swingman Damien Wilkins, small forward Sam Thompson, and shooting guard Elliot Williams, the team announced (via Twitter). Washburn, Wilkins, and Thompson were in camp on non-guaranteed pacts, so the team won’t be on the hook for any funds as a result of these moves, but Williams’ deal includes a small partial guarantee of $80K, which Charlotte would be responsible for provided Williams clears waivers. The team’s roster count now sits at 15 players. These moves also indicate that former Kentucky guard Aaron Harrison, who is signed to a partially guaranteed deal, has a strong shot to make the team’s regular season roster.

Washburn, 25, went undrafted out of Utah back in 2013. His career numbers in four seasons for the Utes were 8.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks to go along with a shooting line of .565/.444/.792. He spent last season overseas playing for Brussels, where he averaged 8.9 PPG and 3.9 RPG in 27 appearances. Washburn played in two contests for the Jazz in this year’s Las Vegas Summer League.

Wilkins, 35, had spent the 2012/13 season with the Sixers, for whom he put up 6.4 points in 18.0 minutes per game with 33.3% shooting in 61 appearances, numbers close to his NBA career averages. Wilkins has played overseas and in the D-League since, notching 20.2 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 37.8 MPG with 33.1% three-point shooting across 50 contests with the D-League affiliate of the Grizzlies last season.

Thompson, 22, had appeared in 35 games for Ohio State last season, notching averages of 10.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.8 assists to go along with a shooting line of .466/.262/.688. His career marks through four NCAA seasons are 6.9 PPG, 2.8 RPG, and 1.1 APG.

Williams has struggled to find his footing in the NBA, appearing last season only on a series of five 10-day contracts split between Charlotte, the Jazz and the Pelicans. The now 26-year-old shooting guard put up 2.8 points in 9.2 minutes per game across 13 appearances in 2014/15. He saw more extensive action in 2013/14 with the Sixers, with whom he put up 6.0 PPG in 17.3 MPG.

Eastern Notes: Biyombo, Hornets, Hawks

The Raptorssigning of Bismack Biyombo for two years and $6MM appears to be a steal so far because of the center’s defense and how vocal he is on the court, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun writes. While the Raptors have several capable scorers, Biyombo fills the role of setting screens and grabbing offensive rebounds, which should help the team a great deal, Wolstat adds. Biyombo, as Wolstat points out, is also only 23.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Veteran Damien Wilkins, undrafted rookie Aaron Harrison and third-year player Elliot Williams appear to be the candidates for the Hornets‘ final roster spot, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer details. Wilkins, Bonnell contends, has the best chance to play among the three because of his experience at small forward. The Hornets are thin at the position after Michael Kidd-Gilchrist‘s season-ending injury, as Bonnell points out. Williams likely has the smallest chance because the Hornets are deep at point guard, Bonnell adds.
  • Though he was mentored by Gregg Popovich, Mike Budenholzer, who is entering his third season as head coach of the Hawks, has put his own mark on the franchise and its style of play, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. While the Hawks use a system similar to the Spurs, Budenholzer has crafted it to fit his personnel, Vivlamore adds.
  • Dahntay Jones, a native of New Jersey, said he always wanted to be on the Nets, but Tim Bontemps of the New York Post writes that it’s going to require a surprising move for the team to keep the 34-year-old. That’s because the franchise has made an effort to get younger and there likely just is not a spot for Jones, Bontemps adds. The Nets, as Bontemps includes in his piece, have 13 guaranteed contracts and will likely use one of the two remaining spots on a point guard. The Nets signed Jones to a non-guaranteed deal in September.

Hornets Sign Damien Wilkins

OCTOBER 16TH, 8:24am: The deal is finally official, the team announced. That brings Charlotte’s roster to 19 players.

OCTOBER 6TH, 8:42am: The contract will be non-guaranteed, Wilkins says on his personal blog (hat tip to Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk). The blog entry recounts the events leading up to the Hornets deal for Wilkins, who very nearly left on a plane to join his Venezuelan team, and Wilkins notes that he had already signed a contract with the Venezuelan club, which evidently allowed him to break the pact.

1:43pm: Charlotte does plan to sign Wilkins, as Bonnell makes clear in a full story.

9:49am: The Hornets are indeed bringing in Wilkins for a “preseason look,” tweets Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. That presumably confirms that the team intends to sign him.

OCTOBER 5TH, 8:22am: Nine-year NBA veteran Damien Wilkins is headed to Charlotte for a chance to return to the league, as indicated by quotes attributed to him on the Twitter feed of the Venezuelan team Guaros de Lara (hat tip to Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com). Wilkins said he wouldn’t be joining Guaros de Lara as planned after receiving word of an opportunity with Charlotte (All five Twitter links here, in Spanish). Other tweets from the Venezuelan team indicate the same, so it would appear that the Hornets are either going to work him out, sign him, or both. It seems part of an effort to offset the loss of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who has a dislocated right shoulder. The Hornets have yet to release any timetable, but it’s an injury that typically costs players three to 12 weeks, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.

Wilkins, 35, was last on an NBA contract two years ago, when the Hawks brought him to camp and waived him before the start of the regular season. He’d spent 2012/13 season with the Sixers, for whom he put up 6.4 points in 18.0 minutes per game with 33.3% shooting in 61 appearances, numbers close to his NBA career averages. Wilkins has played overseas and in the D-League since, notching 20.2 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 37.8 MPG with 33.1% three-point shooting across 50 contests with the D-League affiliate of the Grizzlies this past season.

Kidd-Gilchrist and Wilkins are both perimeter players, lending credence to the idea that Kidd-Gilchrist’s injury precipitated Wilkins’ trip to Charlotte. The Hornets have been carrying 18 players, as our roster count shows. Coach Steve Clifford has opposed the idea of adding more, but that’s a stance that’s likely changed with the injury. Charlotte has its entire $5.464MM mid-level exception at its disposal, though few players receive more than the minimum this time of year. A more significant question likely involves how much, if any, guaranteed money Wilkins would receive. Charlotte already has 14 full guarantees.

Do you think Wilkins can help the Hornets? Leave a comment to tell us.