Damion Lee

Damion Lee To Remain On Warriors Roster, Receive $500K Guarantee

Warriors guard Damion Lee‘s roster spot is safe, ensuring he’ll receive a $500K partial guarantee, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets.

Lee needed to remain on the roster through this weekend to receive the guarantee. The remainder of his $1.91MM contract for next season remains non-guaranteed, though the team views him as one of the 14 players with a guaranteed roster spot entering next season. The final roster opening will likely be determined in a training camp battle, Slater adds.

Lee, who will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, has appeared in 153 games during his four-year career, mainly with Golden State. He came off the bench in all but one of 57 appearances last season, averaging 6.5 PPG and 3.2 RPG in 18.9 MPG. He also shot a healthy 39.7% from 3-point range.

Pacific Notes: Warriors, Armstrong, Paul, Anthony

A $659K contract guarantee kicks in Wednesday for Gary Payton II, which may affect the Warriors‘ decision to keep him on the roster, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. There’s an expectation that Golden State will release Payton with the hope of re-signing him if he clears waivers, Slater adds. That would give him a chance to win a roster spot in camp on a non-guaranteed deal.

Payton finished last season with the Warriors, appearing in 10 games after signing a pair of 10-day contracts in April. Slater points out that the team could use a defensive specialist like Payton to make up for the losses of Kelly Oubre and Kent Bazemore.

Golden State’s roster will be nearly set heading into camp, Slater notes. Thirteen players have guaranteed contracts and a large part of Damion Lee‘s deal will become guaranteed if he remains with the team through August 15, which is expected. Payton may wind up competing for the final roster spot with Mychal Mulder, whose contract is non-guaranteed. A source told Slater that the Warriors are “still monitoring” the free agent market in hopes of adding another veteran.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Former NBA center Hilton Armstrong has joined the Warriors‘ coaching staff, Slater adds. He will work in the video department and has been involved with the Summer League team in Sacramento and Las Vegas.
  • Suns guard Chris Paul should be healed in plenty of time for training camp after having surgery on his left wrist after the NBA Finals, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic“For Chris, it was something minor,” general manager James Jones said in an ESPN interview. “He’ll be ready in a couple of weeks to get back out on the court with these guys as we start to try to get back after this short offseason.”  
  • Carmelo Anthony is thrilled to finally team up with his long-time friend LeBron James on the Lakers, per Mark Medina of USA Today. They have both been in the league for 18 years, but are teammates for the first time after Anthony agreed to a one-year contract with L.A. “Most people would say you should’ve gotten together years ago or earlier in our careers. But we were in two different lanes,” Anthony said. “We were in two different paths. Everything comes full circle.”

Pacific Notes: Ibaka, Kuzma, Fox, Lee

Serge Ibaka has joined the Clippers on their road trip, leaving open the possibility he will play before the postseason, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets. However, Ibaka won’t play against Toronto on Tuesday, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times tweets. The veteran center, who holds a $9.72MM option on next season’s contract, hasn’t played since March 14 due to a back injury.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Kyle Kuzma was held out of Sunday’s game due to lower back tightness, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets. Kuzma, who signed a three-year, $39MM extension in December, shot 2-for-11 from the field on Friday in a loss to Portland. The Lakers forward is averaging 12.8 PPG.
  • Kings guard De’Aaron Fox would like to see the team’s front office exercise some patience, he told Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated. He’s weary of the constant tinkering of the roster. “If you’re not winning as a team, guys get traded, guys who were barely hanging on … get cut and are out the league and coaches get fired,” Fox said, while adding that the top teams have “players play together longer and develop chemistry, and coaches continue to grow and trust all their players.” Fox also spoke in the interview about his recent experience with COVID-19.
  • Warriors guard Damion Lee got up some shots on the court Monday for the first time since clearing the league’s health and safety protocols, Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. Coach Steve Kerr said he’s unsure when Lee will return to game action. Lee contracted COVID-19 even after he had been fully vaccinated.

Warriors Notes: Lee, Paschall, JTA, Bell, Kerr

Warriors wing Damion Lee, who is now out of quarantine, told reporters on Thursday that he contracted COVID-19 and dealt with a number of severe symptoms, as Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports Bay Area details. Lee dealt with a bad case of the virus despite being fully vaccinated, which makes him a rare case, according to data compiled by the CDC.

“I felt like I was hit by two cars at once,” Lee said. “Every step I took, it hurt. There was pain, soreness, it felt like there was a weight on my chest for a couple of days. It was hard to breathe. Loss of appetite, and even still I don’t have my appetite all the way back. Even random headaches, brain fog where I’ll start a conversation and be in on the conversation and then five minutes in, I lose track of what I was talking about or just don’t want to talk anymore.”

Although he was able to return to the team this week, Lee isn’t ready to take the court yet, and with just over a week remaining in the regular season, it’s not clear whether or not he’ll return at all. Noting that the Warriors are likely to take a cautious approach with Lee, Anthony Slater of The Athletic believes the 28-year-old may have played his last game of 2020/21.

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Of the Warriors’ injured players, Eric Paschall is closest to a return, according to Slater, who say the second-year forward is ramping up his conditions and will likely make it back during Golden State’s current home stand.
  • The Warriors will have to add a 14th man to their roster by the middle of next week, and Slater expects Juan Toscano-Anderson to fill that spot, receiving a promotion from his two-way deal. That could open the door for Jordan Bell, whom the Warriors are reportedly eyeing, to take Toscano-Anderson’s spot on a two-way contract.
  • Warriors head coach Steve Kerr spoke to Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic about the lessons he has learned during a challenging 2020/21 season. Golden State is 12-16 this season in “clutch” games (games within five points in the last five minutes), which is an area Kerr feels he can help improve. “Definitely some things that I can do better. Just little detail things,” he said. “What happens when you lose some close ones, you tend to think about every single decision you made. Obviously there’s a greater chance that one decision can make a difference in the game just because you have less margin for error. So less margin for error means I gotta be on my game.”
  • In case you missed it, Kelly Oubre will miss at least a week or two due to his wrist injury.

Damion Lee Out 10-14 Days Under COVID-19 Protocols

Warriors reserve wing Damion Lee will miss at least 10-14 days of action as he enters the NBA’s coronavirus health and safety protocols, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Slater notes that the 28-year-old Lee has been a big help for the Warriors’ depleted backcourt. Across 57 games (one start), Lee is averaging 6.5 PPG and 3.2 RPG across 18.9 MPG this season, while connecting on 39.7% of 3.4 three-point looks per night.

Lee’s absence could spell trouble for a team already battling serious rotational absences. Starting center James Wiseman is out for the year after suffering a meniscus tear earlier this month. Juan Toscano-Anderson remains in the league’s concussion protocols, and, of course, maximum-salaried starting swingman Klay Thompson is missing his second straight full season as he recuperates from an Achilles tear.

Every win counts at this point in the season for the scrappy Warriors. At 29-30, Golden State is currently the ninth seed in the crowded Western Conference, mere percentage points ahead of the tenth-seeded Spurs.

“And for those wondering, I did get the (coronavirus) vaccine and continued to practice the property safety protocols,” Lee mentioned in a tweet soon after the news of his absence was announced.

Whether or not Lee himself contracted COVID-19 or has entered protocols after coming into contact with someone who later tested positive is unclear.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Pacific Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Pacific Division:

Nicolas Batum, Clippers, 32, PF/SF (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2020

Batum had several teams interested in him last fall when Charlotte waived him and stretched out the $27.1MM remaining on his contract. He’s proven to be a bargain for the Clippers after signing for the veteran’s minimum.

Batum has been a regular presence in the rotation (28.4 MPG), serving as a “glue guy,” content to play defense and grab some rebounds without getting a lot of shot opportunities. His shooting percentage has dropped lately, but he’s still averaging a career-best 41.4% on 3-point attempts. It’s been a bounce-back season after he languished on the Hornets’ bench a year ago. He’ll get offers commensurate for a veteran role player.

Andre Drummond, Lakers, 27, C (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $794K deal in 2021

Cleveland couldn’t find a way to trade Drummond due to the $28.75MM in the final year of his contract. Once he cleared waivers, he had a choice of contenders and landed with the defending champions. It’s a tricky situation with Marc Gasol still on the roster and not thrilled about losing his starting role, but Drummond finds himself pursuing a championship for the first time in his career. If he can blend well with LeBron James and Anthony Davis once they return from injuries, the league’s most prolific rebounder can enhance his resume as he heads into unrestricted free agency this summer.

Damion Lee, Warriors, 28, SG/PG (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $4.5MM deal in 2019

Lee started 36 games for Golden State last season after the team went into tank mode. He earned his way from a two-way contract to a standard three-year deal. However, his 2021/22 salary – albeit a modest $1.9MM by NBA standards – isn’t guaranteed. It includes a partial guarantee of $500K if he’s still on the roster in mid-summer.

Lee has gotten steady minutes as a second-unit player, but really hasn’t contributed much offensively – he’s averaging 4.4 PPG over his last seven games. As a tax team, Golden State needs to fill its bench with low-cost options, so Lee could stick but the club could also seek a better scoring threat at that spot.

Frank Kaminsky, Suns, 28, PF, (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $1.88MM deal in 2020

It’s been a rough stretch for Kaminsky, who was placed under the league’s health and safety protocols at the beginning of the month. Prior to being sidelined, Kaminsky saw his playing time diminish – he averaged 3.5 PPG in 13.3 MPG during six appearances in March. Kaminsky was on Phoenix’s roster last season, had a $5MM option declined, then returned to the Suns after the Kings placed him on waivers. The ninth overall pick of the 2015 draft will find it difficult to regain his second-unit role once he returns. Kaminsky will likely have to settle for the veteran’s minimum to stick around in the league next season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Western Notes: Valanciunas, Lee, Porter Jr., Huestis, Spalding

Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas missed Monday’s game against the Suns due to the league’s health and safety protocols, the team’s PR department tweets. It’s uncertain how long Valanciunas will be sidelined. He was instructed to leave the bench area 10 days ago due to COVID-19 contact tracing but it turned out to be a “false alarm,” as Valanciunas described it. Rookie Xavier Tillman started in his place.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Warriors might take a longer look at Damion Lee with Kelly Oubre Jr. off to a slow start, Ethan Strauss of The Athletic writes. Lee’s skills mesh more seamlessly with Stephen Curry, so Golden State could even try Lee in a starting role. He had a pair of double-digit scoring outings last week and has shot the ball well from deep (44.7%) with a low turnover rate. Oubre has shot an icy 19.7% on his 3-point tries but the Warriors dipped deeper into the luxury tax by acquiring him, so they’ll likely exercise plenty of patience and hope he returns to last season’s form.
  • Michael Porter Jr.‘s starting spot is safe, Nuggets coach Michael Malone said on Monday, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post (Twitter link). Porter hasn’t played since December 29 after being placed on the league’s COVID-19 protocol list. “Bottom line is, he’s the starting small forward at 6’10”, averaging close to 20 points a game and seven rebounds,” Malone said. “Not only are you whole, but you have a really talented player who’s a big part of your current team and also your future.”
  • NBA veterans Josh Huestis and Ray Spalding are among the players on the Rockets’ G League roster, according to a tweet from the Rio Grande Vipers. Huestis played in Germany last season after appearing in 76 career games with the Thunder, including 69 during the 2017/18 season. Spalding was waived by the Hornets in November. He played 13 games with the Suns in 2018/19.

Warriors Notes: Magnay, Rest Of Season, Draft

Brisbane Bullets big man Will Magnay, who has played in Australia’s NBL since 2017, said this week on the Gibbo Goes One-On-One podcast that the Warriors had interest in him earlier this year, but never formally offered him a 10-day contract.

“The Golden State Warriors had asked the Bullets if they had offered me a 10-day contract, would the Bullets release me,” Magnay said (link via NBL.com.au). “That was the conversation that went down and somehow that news got out. There was never anything on paper, there was interest and whatnot but never anything on paper.”

Magnay, who played his college ball at Tulsa, was named the NBL’s Most Improved Player in 2020 this season. The 21-year-old averaged 8.1 PPG and 6.1 RPG in 27 games (21.9 MPG) for the Bullets.

Here’s more on Golden State:

  • The Warriors still don’t expect they’ll be part of a resumed NBA season, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, who notes that it’s unclear whether veteran stars like Stephen Curry and Draymond Green would even suit up if the team does have to play a few regular season games this summer. As Slater explains, Golden State’s focus is on next season and the club would view a resumed 2019/20 campaign as a de facto Summer League.
  • Within that Athletic article, Slater previews the offseason outlook for everyone on the Warriors’ roster, suggesting that Marquese Chriss and Damion Lee will almost certainly receive the rest of their partial guarantees, while Juan Toscano-Anderson, Ky Bowman, and Mychal Mulder (all on non-guaranteed contracts) might end up competing for one or two roster spots.
  • Many of the Warriors’ virtual draft interviews so far have been with non-first round prospects, according to Slater, who says the team is looking to “gain a wide view of the draft landscape.” The Dubs haven’t officially formed a draft board yet, sources tell Slater.

Pacific Notes: James, Warriors Wings, Warriors Draft, Suns

LeBron James indicated during an Instagram Live appearance that he’d like to finish out his career with the Lakers, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports relays. James is in the second year of his four-year pact with the Lakers, though the final year at $41MM is a player option. Answering a question on Instagram, James said, “What NBA team would I never play for? I’m still playing, man. Hey, I’ve got to keep all my options open, man. But right now I’ll tell you one thing: I don’t want to go nowhere besides be here, baby. Be a Laker for the rest of my life.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Warriors will likely sign a veteran free agent wing during the offseason using the taxpayer mid-level exception, Anthony Slater of The Athletic speculates. Maurice HarklessJae CrowderJosh JacksonMichael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marvin Williams are possibilities, as is a reunion with Glenn Robinson III. Among members of the current roster, Damion Lee is the most likely to stick behind Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson, Slater adds.
  • The Warriors will be looking in the lottery for a player who can jump right into their rotation, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. The team’s director of player personnel, Larry Harris, told Poole of the plan. “Yes, we’ll try to find someone who can come in play right away,” Harris said. “But we also know that when you’re picking this high, a lot of guys are 18, 19, 20 years old. To expect them to come in and be contributors right away, we’re not so naive to think it won’t take time. But we feel there are some players in this draft, up high, that have the ability to come in and play some minutes.”
  • Renovations for the Suns’ Talking Stick Resort Arena and construction of their new practice facility are expected to remain on schedule despite the suspension of the season, according to Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. The $45MM practice facility is projected to be completed by August. The $230MM arena renovation project is scheduled to have 65% of the upgrades done going into next season.

Warriors Officially Sign Damion Lee To Three-Year Deal

Damion Lee‘s long-awaited promotion to the Warriors‘ 15-man roster is now official, with the team announcing the move today in a press release.

Lee, who was previously on a two-way contract, signed a new three-year deal with a partial guarantee for the 2020/21 season, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Next season’s partial guarantee will be worth $600K, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

The promotion had been expected since last Tuesday, when the team released Marquese Chriss in order to make room under its hard cap to sign Lee. For his part, Chriss has returned to the team on a two-way contract, essentially swapping places with Lee.

Lee, who is Stephen Curry‘s brother-in-law, has been a regular rotation player all season long for the injury-plagued Warriors, averaging 12.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 2.3 APG with a solid shooting line of .407/.360/.877 in 26 games (13 starts). The 27-year-old had exhausted the 45-day NBA limit on his two-way deal, but will no longer face those restrictions on his new standard contract.

Golden State has had little financial wiggle room all season long due to its hard cap and will now be approximately $394K below the threshold, according to Marks (Twitter link). Marks notes that the Warriors will be able to sign a 15th man to a rest-of-season contract as of March 4 if no trades or 10-day signings before then affect the club’s cap sheet.

The Warriors were able to sign Lee to a three-year, minimum-salary contract by using their mid-level exception.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.