Damion Lee

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.

Warriors Notes: Thompson, Evans, Chriss, Lee

Klay Thompson made a rare appearance in front of the media on Tuesday, speaking publicly to reporters for the first time since the Warriors‘ preseason media day. As Nick Friedell of ESPN.com relays, Thompson said his ACL rehab is “going great,” adding that he hasn’t closed the door on the possibility of returning before the end of the 2019/20 campaign.

“Obviously, I wish I could be out there,” Thompson said. “It’s been a long process. I haven’t stopped working since the third day after Game 6 of the 2019 Finals. You might not see me a lot, but I’m working. I don’t know what’s going to come this season, I would love to get out there.”

Despite his optimism and his desire to get back on the court, Thompson seems unlikely to return before the fall. With the Warriors on track to finish dead-last in the Western Conference, the team will be more cautious than ever with the veteran sharpshooter, who is in the first season of a five-year, maximum-salary contract. Thompson sounds like he understands that line of thinking, as Friedell details.

“I’m trying to make sure this type of injury never happens to me again, so I’ll be very patient because I want to play at a high level ’til my late 30s,” he said.

Here’s more on the Dubs:

  • Warriors guard Jacob Evans was taken to a hospital after colliding with Mavericks big man Dwight Powell in the second quarter of Tuesday’s game, according to Friedell. Evans, who took an elbow to the face during the collision, stayed on the floor for several minutes before leaving the game. The team has yet to issue an update on his diagnosis or his potential recovery timeline.
  • The Warriors found a creative way to ultimately retain Marquese Chriss and Damion Lee and keep both players active, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Chriss projects to reach the 24-day NBA limit on his new two-way contract in early March, but Slater suggests the former lottery pick is the frontrunner to be promoted to Golden State’s 15-man roster at that time. The Warriors can’t add a 15th man until late in the season due to their hard cap.
  • Chriss has officially signed his two-way contract with the Warriors, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The team hasn’t announced the finalized deal yet, since Lee will need to be moved to the 15-man roster before Chriss can fill his two-way slot.

Two-Way Contract Situations To Watch This Week

January 15 is the last day that NBA teams can sign a player to a two-way contract this season. After that date, teams can still waive two-way players or promote them to their 15-man rosters, but they can’t bring aboard new players on two-way contracts as replacements.

[RELATED: 2019/20 NBA Two-Way Contract Tracker]

With that deadline looming, we could get a mini-flurry of activity related to two-way deals this week. While it’s impossible to predict which teams will simply choose to replace one two-way player with a new one, there are a few specific situations worth keeping an eye on, based on certain players’ performances or teams’ roster situations.

Here are a few two-way contract situations to watch this week:

The Suns, Cavaliers, and Heat

The Suns and Cavaliers are currently the only two teams not carrying a pair of players on two-way contracts, while the Heat are expected to join them tomorrow.

Phoenix has only had one player (Jared Harper) on a two-way contract all season long, but it would still be a surprise not to see the team add a second two-way player by Wednesday. Cleveland, meanwhile, just waived Levi Randolph on Sunday, while Miami is poised to promote Chris Silva to the 15-man roster, opening up a two-way slot for each club.

Damion Lee / Ky Bowman (Warriors)

Rotation players Lee and Bowman have been two of the most likely candidates for promotions all season long. The Warriors have a pair of open roster spots, but based on their hard cap, they only have the flexibility to promote one of their two-way players for now.

Lee is expected to be first in line, as we heard when Golden State waived Marquese Chriss last week. A deal appeared imminent at that time, but nothing has been completed yet, even now that Lee has reached his 45-day NBA limit. It’s possible the two sides are still haggling over the length of the contract (the Warriors could offer as many as four years), but the team may just be taking its time to maximize its financial flexibility below the hard cap.

Assuming Lee is promoted by Wednesday, as expected, Golden State figures to add a new two-way player to pair with Bowman, who may get a promotion of his own later in the season. The Dubs’ new two-way player would be able to spend up to 24 days in the NBA before the end of the G League season.

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (Nets)

Keith Smith of RealGM suggested on Sunday (via Twitter) that the Nets will likely move Luwawu-Cabarrot to the 15-man roster in the coming days, on either a standard contract or a 10-day deal.

Brooklyn won’t technically have a roster spot open until Justin Anderson‘s 10-day pact expires on Wednesday night, but could terminate that contract a day or two early in order to promote Luwawu-Cabarrot and sign a new two-way player by Wednesday’s deadline.

Norvel Pelle (Sixers)

Teams around the NBA are keeping an eye on Pelle, who only has a few NBA days left on his two-way deal, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter links).

If the Sixers intend to promote Pelle, it’d be in their best interests to do it by Wednesday in order to sign a new two-way player to replace him. However, it remains unclear whether or not that will happen. After guaranteeing Trey Burke‘s salary last week, Philadelphia has a full 15-man roster and would probably have to release a player like Jonah Bolden, Raul Neto, or Kyle O’Quinn to make room for Pelle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Warriors Waive Marquese Chriss, Will Promote Damion Lee

1:58pm: The Warriors and Lee are working to finalize a multiyear deal that will includes partial guarantees in future seasons, sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The team could offer Lee up to a four-year deal using its mid-level exception.

7:35am: The Warriors completed a somewhat surprising roster move late on Monday night, waiving big man Marquese Chriss, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link). Using the newly-available roster spot, Golden State will promote two-way player Damion Lee, giving him a standard contract, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

With only 14 players on their 15-man roster before cutting Chriss, the Warriors technically already had a roster spot available to promote Lee. However, the club’s flexibility was limited by its hard cap — with only about $375K in breathing room, there wasn’t enough space to give Lee a prorated minimum salary contract without waiving Chriss, whose salary wasn’t fully guaranteed.

By releasing Chriss in advance of today’s guarantee deadline, Golden State will reduce his cap hit from $1,620,564 to $758,804, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Lee’s cap hit for the remainder of the season, if he signs on Tuesday, will be $915,573, moving the Warriors slightly closer to their hard cap.

The team will retain its open 15th roster spot, which could still be used later in the season – perhaps on two-way player Ky Bowman – once the prorated minimum salary declines to the point where it would fit beneath the hard cap.

As Slater explains in a full story at The Athletic, parting ways with Chriss wasn’t an easy decision for the Warriors, or a popular one within “some pockets of the organization.” A former lottery pick, Chriss is just 22 years old, was well-liked in the locker room, and had played well in a part-time role this season, with 7.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 1.9 APG in 37 games (17.7 MPG).

However, according to Slater, when Lee agreed to return to the Warriors during the 2019 offseason, he did so with an understanding that he wouldn’t be spending any real time in the G League, and would get a standard roster spot once he exhausted his 45-day NBA limit. Lee has just two of those 45 days remaining, necessitating a move.

In an ideal world, the Warriors would’ve kept both Lee and Chriss, Slater notes. Golden State may have preferred to create space for both players by trading a minimum-salary veteran like Alec Burks or Glenn Robinson III, but with no deal in place, today’s salary guarantee deadline forced the club’s hand on Chriss.

There’s still a chance Chriss could be back at some point — Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets that Golden State definitely hasn’t lost interest in him. But there’s no guarantee that another team won’t scoop him up as a free agent, or even via a waiver claim.

“They said it’s been a tough decision,” Chriss told Slater, after learning of his release. “It is what it is. I’ve accomplished a lot. I’ve shown what I’m capable of. I’ve shown I belong. People make business decisions.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacific Notes: Kuzma, Bradley, Bowman, Lee, Curry, Thompson

The Lakers aren’t close to dealing Kyle Kuzma and want a substantial package if they do move the high-scoring forward, according to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. The Kings are reportedly among the teams interested in acquiring Kuzma. The Lakers would likely ask for a quality rotation player, preferably a point guard, along with a first-round draft pick that projects to be in or around the lottery, Deveney continues. The Lakers would also consider two lesser first-round picks as part of a package for Kuzma, Deveney adds.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Lakers guard Avery Bradley suffered a right ankle sprain against Detroit on Sunday, Dave McMenamin of ESPN relays. X-rays were negative and it’s uncertain when Bradley will return to action. Bradley missed 13 games earlier this season due to a right leg injury and hasn’t played more than 63 regular-season games over the previous three seasons due to an assortment of ailments.
  • The Warriors will send Ky Bowman to the G League when D’Angelo Russell returns from a right shoulder contusion, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. Bowman has six days remaining on his 45-day NBA allotment under the terms of a two-way contract. The team’s other two-way player, Damion Lee, has just two days remaining until he must remain in the G League or receive a standard contract. A roster spot is likely to be cleared for Lee at some point, Slater adds.
  • Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry are getting antsy as they rehab from long-term injuries, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Thompson is working his way back from the knee injury he suffered during last season’s playoffs, while Curry is rehabbing from hand surgery. “In an ironic way, this has been probably a good chance for them to blow off some stream and whatever metaphor you want to use,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “But that can only last for so long. They’re both dying to play. And we’re dying to have them back.”

Warriors Willing To Trade Alec Burks, Other Veterans

Shooting guard Alec Burks is among several players the Warriors are willing to part with before the February 6 trade deadline, according to Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. Poole suggests Golden State could be one of the most active teams on the trade market after virtually ignoring it during the past five years.

He identifies Burks as the most coveted of the Warriors’ assets because he can stretch defenses and has an affordable contract at $2.3MM. Burks is averaging 15.5 PPG through 30 games and shooting 34.9% from 3-point range.

Poole names the Lakers, Mavericks, Clippers, Pacers and Raptors as teams that could use another wing player who can shoot from the outside. He states that the Warriors will be looking for future assets such as draft picks and young players.

Although Golden State’s front office likes Burks, they need to open up roster spots soon to keep two-way players Damion Lee and Ky Bowman, who are both nearing their 45-day NBA limit. Lee has 12 days remaining and Bowman has 11. After that, they will have to have their contracts converted to NBA deals or remain in the G League until that season is over.

“It’s an awkward situation for us, because Ky and Damion are coming up on their limit,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters after Friday’s game. “And they’re two of our top seven players in our rotation. And yet the rules are that we only have them for another nine or 10 days each. Everybody is aware of that. We don’t know how it’s going to play out.”

Several league sources told Poole that the Warriors are ready to move into serious trade discussions. They added several veterans over the summer on contracts that they believed would be easy to move when the time came.

Those include Glenn Robinson III at $1.9MM, Marquese Chriss at a non-guaranteed $1.7MM and Willie Cauley-Stein at $2.2MM with a $2.3MM player option for next season. They also traded for Omari Spellman, who makes $1.9MM this year, and picked up his option for 2020/21 at nearly $2MM.

Two-Way Players Making Bids For Promotions

Players on two-way contracts are free to appear in NBA games, but there are limitations on the amount of time they can spend with their respective NBA teams. Each two-way player can spend up to 45 days with his NBA club, assuming he signed his two-way deal before the season began.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Two-Way Contracts]

With some creative transferring back and forth between an NBA team and its G League affiliate, a franchise can make the most of those 45 days. Still, with the clock having started on October 28, the first day of G League training camp, it’s just a matter of time before some players use up their 45-day allotment.

Teams can sign players to two-way contracts through mid-January, so in past seasons some clubs have simply moved onto a new player once their original two-way players neared that 45-day limit. However, many players who have used up their 45 days subsequently received a promotion – signing a standard NBA contract and taking a spot on the 15-man roster – to ensure that their teams didn’t lose them.

It’s a little early in the 2019/20 season to determine which two-way players will ultimately end up being promoted to 15-man rosters, but a handful of players on two-way deals have made strong cases for standard contracts in the early going.

Here are the top candidates to receive promotions among this year’s two-way players:

Chris Silva, PF (Heat)

Silva has flown somewhat under the radar in Miami, since the Heat have two other rookies (Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn) making an even greater impact. But Silva has already appeared in 22 games for the NBA club, averaging 3.7 PPG, 3.9 RPG, and a .644 FG% in 9.7 minutes per contest.

Miami is hard-capped and can’t sign Silva to a standard contract before January 14. Even at that point, it’s not clear if getting him on the 15-man roster right away will be a top priority for the Heat, who may want to retain a modicum of flexibility leading up to the trade deadline. The club has a deep bench and could probably get by without him for a few weeks once he uses up his 45 NBA days, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see Silva eventually sign a multiyear, minimum-salary deal like the one Nunn received last spring.

Chris Clemons, G (Rockets)

Although he has appeared in 17 games so far this season, Clemons isn’t exactly a rotation fixture for the Rockets, having played double-digit minutes in just five of those games. Still, in limited playing time, he has shown the ability to create instant offense off the bench, scoring at least 16 points three times and shooting 38.8% on threes.

After waiving Ryan Anderson earlier this fall, Houston has an open spot on its 15-man roster, but the team’s proximity to the tax line may work against a promotion for Clemons in the near future. We’ll see if the club can trade Nene within the next couple months, or if it needs to keep that final roster open for a potential addition on the trade market or buyout market.

Ky Bowman, PG (Warriors)
Damion Lee, SG (Warriors)

No player on the 5-21 Warriors this season has a positive net rating, but Lee (-2.9) is the closest and Bowman (-4.4) isn’t far behind.

Bowman has been especially impressive, stepping into the starting lineup several times when D’Angelo Russell missed time and posting a .454/.415/.909 shooting line through 26 games. Lee, who has appeared in just 12 games, hasn’t been as reliable from beyond the arc this year (31.6%) as he was last year (39.7%), but he had some productive nights early in the season, including a 23-point, 11-rebound showing in a win over New Orleans.

Like the Heat, the Warriors are hard-capped, limiting their ability to add anyone to their 15-man roster right now, despite having an open spot. But if they were to trade, say, Alec Burks without taking any salary back, the Dubs would be in position to promote a two-way player to their roster, potentially signing him to a team-friendly three- or four-year deal with their mid-level exception. In that scenario, Bowman would almost certainly be the priority over Lee.

The full list of players on two-way contracts can be found right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Warriors’ Damion Lee Out At Least Two Weeks

The injuries continue to pile up for the Warriors, who announced today (via Twitter) that guard Damion Lee has suffered a non-displaced fracture of the fourth metacarpal in his right hand. Lee will be re-evaluated in two weeks, according to the team.

Technically, Lee isn’t even on the Warriors’ standard roster, as he’s one of the club’s two-way players. However, he has been playing about 25 minutes per night on the wing since Stephen Curry went down with a broken hand of his own, as Anthony Slater of The Athletic notes (via Twitter).

In 11 total games (21.9 MPG), Lee has averaged 10.0 PPG and 3.9 RPG on .385/.343/.848 shooting.

The Warriors will be without Curry and Klay Thompson until at least February, and Kevon Looney is sidelined indefinitely due to a neuropathic condition. An adductor strain will keep Jacob Evans on the shelf until later this month, and Alen Smailagic and Omari Spellman are recovering from ankle injuries.

Teams dealing with at least four extended injury absences can qualify for a hardship provision allowing them to temporarily carry a 16th man on their roster. However, that would be of no use to the Warriors, who can’t even carry a 15th man for now due to a restrictive hard cap.

Since two-way players don’t count toward the salary cap, Golden State could theoretically replace Lee with a new two-way addition. But that would mean waiving a player who has spent the last couple years with the franchise and could be healthy again within the next few weeks.

On the plus side, Lee’s 45-day NBA clock won’t continue to run while he’s injured, so a potential decision on whether or not to find room for him on the standard roster will be pushed further down the road, tweets Slater.

Hollinger’s Latest: Blazers, Warriors, Load Management

There hasn’t been an NBA trade since mid-July but the Trail Blazers appear to be a prime candidate to make a deal, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. Zach Collins‘ shoulder injury, which is expected to cost him most of the season, creates an even bigger need at an already thin position. Journeyman Anthony Tolliver is the only true power forward remaining on the roster, Hollinger notes. The Blazers could also use another small forward in their rotation.

Portland has some desirable assets, including expiring contracts, young players and draft picks, in order to upgrade its forward spots. One offshoot of the Collins injury that the Blazers are playing with smaller, faster lineups and that could prove beneficial.

There’s more from Hollinger:

  • The Warriors may trade one of their free agent additions on expiring contracts in order to add one of their two-way players to the 15-man roster. Golden State is pushed up against the hard cap and could free some money by dealing center Willie Cauley-Stein or guard Alec Burks. Any potential deal involving a free agent signed this summer can’t happen until mid-December.
  • Waiving Marquese Chriss‘ non-guaranteed deal is also a strong possibility for Golden State, considering Chriss has already had his role reduced after a strong preseason. The Warriors have already used up eight of the 45 days on the service clock of two-way players Damion Lee and Ky Bowman and can’t convert either to a standard contract unless they make another move.
  • People who criticize load management fail to realize that the modern game is much more taxing on players’ bodies than in past decades, Hollinger writes. The goal is to maximize the number of high-quality games the player can play and that makes it a sound strategy.

Warriors Sign Damion Lee To Two-Way Contract

JULY 30: The Warriors have officially signed Lee to a new two-way contract, per RealGM’s NBA transactions log.

JULY 28: Per a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, the Warriors and swingman Damion Lee have reached terms on a two-way contract that will see Lee, the brother-in-law of Stephen Curry, return to the Bay Area for the 2019/20 season.

Lee, who played under a two-way contract with Golden State last season also, appeared in 39 games for the Warriors in 2018/19, averaging 4.9 PPG in 11.7 MPG. Anthony Slater of The Athletic first reported that Lee was again a candidate for one of the team’s two-way slots approximately two weeks ago.

The 26-year-old Drexel and Louisville product also played in 15 games (11 starts) for the Hawks during his rookie season in 2017/18, where he averaged an impressive 10.7 PPG in 26.9 minutes per contest, albeit in relatively meaningless action toward the end of the regular season.

The Warriors other two-way slot is occupied by rookie guard Ky Bowman. Forward Julian Washburn held the other spot for awhile, but he was waived after being acquired from the Grizzlies in the trade that sent Andre Igoudala to Memphis to clear cap space.