Daniel Theis

Central Notes: Cavaliers, Detroit Rebuild, Theis, Pistons

The Cavaliers are playing important games late into the season again for the first time in years, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

At 20-37, the Cavaliers are 3.5 games behind the Bulls for the tenth seed  in the East. Should Cleveland make up that ground, the team qualify for the play-in tournament this season. This would be the club’s first postseason berth since making the NBA Finals in 2018.

“We have guys who have not, I want this to come across the right way, but have not played meaningful games down the stretch in an NBA season,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Obviously we have our group of guys who have played in the playoffs and those types of things, but we have young guys who haven’t experienced meaningful games at the end of a season.”

“We’re all in this cluster,” Cleveland guard Darius Garland said of the competition among the Cavaliers, Bulls, Raptors and Wizards for the final play-in spot. “Every game matters right now. They’re in the cluster with us… They’ve got the 10th seed right now, they’ve got the target on their back.”

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The Pistons have played their hand as they focus on the future, opting to start their young players, writes Rod Beard of the Detroit Free News. At 18-40, Detroit is 0.5 games behind the Magic for the worst record in the East.
  • New Bulls starting power forward Daniel Theis concedes that he was surprised to be traded by the Celtics to Chicago, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. The deal “definitely caught me off guard,” Theis confirmed. Currently on an expiring $5MM deal, Theis will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
  • James L. Edwards of The Athletic assesses the most exciting prospects on a developing Pistons roster, starting with a trio of rookies led by 22-year-old rookie Saddiq Bey, the No. 19 pick in the 2020 draft out of Villanova, tops the list thanks to his floor as a three-point-shooting wing capable of defending multiple positions.

Bulls Notes: Markkanen, Theis, White, Satoranský

Lauri Markkanen has played a diminished role since the Bulls overhauled their roster at the trade deadline, but he was on the court for the closing minutes of Saturday’s win over the Cavaliers, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Markkanen poured in 16 points, ending a five-game stretch of single-digit scoring, as Chicago picked up an important victory in the race for a play-in game.

Markkanen’s status is being closely watched ahead of his impeding restricted free agency this summer. He has played 21 minutes or fewer six times since the trade deadline and was limited to 11 total shots over three games last week.

“It’s a new role. I think a lot of guys have sacrificed. I’m not going to do anything that jeopardizes the team. I’m going to play my role as well as I can,” Markkanen said. “… I try to stay as positive as I can. But then it’s not really affecting me off the court. At the end of the day when I go home to my family, it’s all good. I wasn’t losing my sleep over it. It was frustrating to lose (my starting job), not being out there and closing out games. But I always say, control what you can control. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Newly-acquired center Daniel Theis will also be a free agent this summer, and coach Billy Donovan hopes the Bulls can find a way to keep him, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Donovan added that executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley share his opinion on Theis. “With free agency coming up and guys having the opportunity to make their own decisions, I understand that,” Donovan said. “But he’s someone we really like a lot and feel like could be somebody that could be really good for us going forward.’’
  • Coby WhiteTomáš SatoranskýThaddeus Young, Al-Farouq Aminu and Markkanen are the five players most likely to be traded as Chicago continues to remake its roster, contends Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Aminu will make $10MM next season, Mayberry adds, and his contract could be useful for salary matching.
  • Zach LaVine‘s absence due to health and safety protocols will give other players a chance to redefine their roles, Johnson writes in a separate story.

Central Notes: Hayes, Theis, Okoro, White

Rookie Pistons point guard Killian Hayes discussed his first game for Detroit in almost three months with reporters, as captured by The Detroit News (video link). “It’s a whole different team from when I left,” Hayes said. Detroit has subtracted Blake Griffin and added Hamidou Diallo and Cory Joseph since the rookie last played.

The No. 7 pick in the 2020 draft, Hayes has missed 41 games thus far this season with a right hip subluxation. In his first game back on the court since January 4 (and eighth overall) against the Knicks yesterday, Hayes went scoreless on 0-of-3 shooting, but pulled down five rebounds and dished out three assists.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic assesses how new Bulls big man Daniel Theis can make an impact in Chicago. Theis is already impressing his teammates. “He’s a difference-maker,” All-Star shooting guard Zach LaVine raved. Mayberry contends that adding the 6’8″ Theis, the starting center for the Celtics across the past year-and-a-half, was a coup at the deadline. “Whenever I step on the court I just want to give everything I’ve got,” the 29-year-old said. “I just want to help the team, whenever I’m out there, get better and win games.” 
  • Although the Cavaliers fell 115-104 to the Heat yesterday, rookie shooting guard Isaac Okoro scored 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field and won the respect of star Heat wing Jimmy Butler, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “His potential is out of this world,” Butler said of 2020’s fifth overall pick drafted out of Auburn. Okoro has had an erratic 2020/21 season (averaging a relatively modest 8.0 PPG, 2.8 RPG and 1.7 APG), but he has started in all his 44 games with Cleveland thus far.
  • Second-year Bulls reserve point guard Coby White has entered the NBA’s coronavirus health and safety protocols, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago tweets.

Bulls Notes: Vucevic, Aminu, Theis, Markkanen

Nikola Vucevic and Zach LaVine have been All-Star teammates, but Thursday’s trade that brought the veteran center to Chicago has made them the core of a Bulls team that hopes to make some noise in the playoffs, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Vucevic believes he and LaVine can eventually become an effective combination.

“He’s a hell of a player, and I’ve heard a lot of great things about him off the court as well. I’m looking forward to getting to know him. On the court, I think our games fit each other,” Vucevic said. “A lot that Zach likes to do, I can help him with that. He can help me with a lot of things. I think our two-man game can be very good. It’s going to take some time for us to get to know each other and build that chemistry. But I think when you have two high-caliber players and players with high IQ that know how to play the game and play to win, I think it won’t take us long.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Al-Farouq Aminu, who was acquired from Orlando in the same deal, will bring a veteran presence to a young squad, notes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports. The 30-year-old forward, who is joining his sixth team in an 11-year career, is ready to adopt a leadership role. “Everybody don’t want the voice always coming from the head coach or the coaches or whatever the case might be,” Aminu told reporters after this morning’s shootaround. “At the end of the day, we the guys out there. And we can explain what to younger players exactly needs to be done and how it needs to be done.”
  • The Bulls overhauled their roster Thursday, bringing in five new players through trades. They were all available for tonight’s game except for former Celtics center Daniel Theis, who is wrapping up family issues and will join the team by Monday, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Coach Billy Donovan faces the challenge of trying to reshape his team over the final 29 games without much time to practice. “You obviously try to probably shrink a lot of things playbook-wise, try to create some clarity defensively for those guys,” Donovan said. “… All those guys were probably in some kind of system or playing with very familiar faces, and that all of a sudden has changed, not only for them but for the guys who are currently here. We have a lot to work through.’’
  • The Bulls opted to hold on to Lauri Markkanen, who is on track for restricted free agency this summer, and now he has to prove he can fit in with the new-look team, Cowley adds in a separate piece.

Celtics Trade Daniel Theis To Bulls In Three-Team Deal

6:27pm: The trade is now official, per a press release from the Wizards.


2:57pm: Ryan McDonough of Radio.com provides the full details on the trade, explaining (via Twitter) that it’ll be folded into the previously-reported Bulls/Wizards swap that involved Wagner. The breakdown is as follows, per McDonough:

  • The Bulls will receive Theis, Green, Troy Brown, $1.3MM in cash from the Celtics, and $250K in cash from the Wizards.
  • The Celtics will receive Kornet and Wagner.
  • The Wizards will receive Daniel Gafford and Chandler Hutchison.

The C’s will end up $950K below the tax line as a result of their series of moves, tweets Marks.


2:31pm: The Celtics and Bulls have agreed to a deal that will send Daniel Theis to Chicago and Moritz Wagner to Boston, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links). K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago first reported the talks between the two teams (Twitter link).

According to Johnson and Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald (Twitter links), Jeff Teague and Javonte Green were also discussed leading up to the deadline, with the possibility of a third team joining the mix. Teague will be sent to Orlando as part of the Evan Fournier trade and will subsequently be waived, per Josh Robbins and Jared Weiss of The Athletic.

It’s not clear if a third team will take on Green or if he’ll be end up going to the Bulls, but the Celtics are believed to be acquiring Luke Kornet from Chicago in the deal, tweets Murphy.

The move will get the Celtics get out of luxury tax territory following their acquisition of Fournier, as Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Meanwhile, it gives the Bulls a solid backup center following their earlier deal for Nikola Vucevic.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Atlantic 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 Atlantic Division:

Chris Boucher, Raptors, 28, PF/C (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $13.5MM deal in 2020

Boucher has a non-guaranteed $7MM salary for next season. The Raptors will have to decide in August whether to retain him. Right now, that decision is a no-brainer. Boucher has been one of the league’s top reserves, averaging 15.6 PPG and 6.6 RPG in 23.8 MPG through 14 games. He ranks third in the league in blocks (2.4) despite his second-unit status. He’s even developed a 3-point shot (48.1%). It will difficult for Boucher to sustain this pace but he’s doing more than enough to convince the front office to prevent him from entering free agency.

Dennis Smith Jr., Knicks, 23, PG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $17.2MM deal in 2017

New coach Tom Thibodeau talked up Smith during training camp, saying “he’s gotten better and better.” That talk quickly died down. Smith has been a non-factor this season, in part because of a quad injury. There’s doesn’t seem to be any path to playing time with Immanuel Quickley establishing himself as one of the league’s top rookies. It’s been a steady decline for Smith, who started 69 games in his rookie year with Dallas and averaged 15.2 PPG. New York would have to extend a qualifying offer of $7MM+ to retain him. That’s not happening.

Furkan Korkmaz, Sixers, 23, SF/SG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $3.4MM deal in 2019

An unrestricted free agent after the season, Korkmaz was sidelined by an adductor strain late last month. He just returned to action on Wednesday, scoring seven points in 20 minutes against the Celtics. He made just two of nine field-goal attempts on Friday. As a second-unit player, Korkmaz must reestablish himself as a steady 3-point threat to hold onto his rotation spot under new coach Doc Rivers. He made 40.2% of his shots beyond the arc last season when his role expanded. He needs to get back into a 3-point rhythm quickly or risk becoming a spectator the second half of the season.

Daniel Theis, Celtics, 28, PF/C (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $10MM deal in 2019

Theis became increasingly important to the club last season, when he started 64 regular-season games and all 17 of its postseason contests in Orlando. His ability to guard pick-and-rolls and switch make him a key component in the Celtics’ defense. He’ll likely come off the bench with Kemba Walker back in action and Brad Stevens going with a smaller lineup. That didn’t faze Theis on Wednesday, as he racked up 23 points and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes against Philadelphia. He shouldn’t have any trouble getting a healthy raise in free agency this summer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eastern Notes: Oladipo, Celtics, Heat, Beal, Cavs

Victor Oladipo turned down a contract extension offer from the Pacers that started at over $25MM, league sources tell former NBA executive Ryan McDonough of Radio.com (Twitter link). NBA rules would have allowed Indiana to go up to a starting salary of $25.2MM on an extension for Oladipo, and it sounds like the team was willing to go that high, based on McDonough’s report.

With Oladipo seeking a more lucrative contract in free agency, where he’ll be eligible for a starting salary worth up to $33.7MM, the Pacers realized they would likely lose him during the summer of 2021, McDonough explains. That’s why Indiana was willing to move him in a deal for Caris LeVert this week. That trade between the Rockets and Pacers – which was separated from the rest of the James Harden blockbuster – isn’t yet official, but should be soon.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • After dealing with a roster shortage for much of the week, the Celtics will have some reinforcements for Friday night’s contest vs. Orlando, their first game since last Friday. Jaylen Brown, Daniel Theis, Semi Ojeleye, and Javonte Green are all out of the NBA’s health and safety protocols and are available tonight, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.
  • With Harden off the market, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald revisits the Heat‘s potential trade options if they want to make a splash before the March 25 deadline. As Jackson has mentioned multiple times in the past, Miami would be very interested in Bradley Beal if the Wizards were to make him available.
  • The Cavaliers will carry approximately $309K in dead money for Thon Maker after waiving his non-guaranteed contract to accommodate their Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince acquisitions, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Maker was paid about $11.9K per day for 26 days of service.

Celtics To Guarantee 2020/21 Salaries For Theis, Ojeleye

The 2020/21 salaries for Daniel Theis and Semi Ojeleye will become guaranteed if they’re not waived today, and the Celtics intend to hang onto both players, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter links).

Theis will have a fully guaranteed $5MM salary for the coming season as a result of the move, which was always expected, given the crucial role he played for the team in 2019/20. The 28-year-old was Boston’s starting center, averaging 9.2 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 1.3 BPG in 24.1 minutes per contest. He’ll be eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2021.

Ojeleye, meanwhile, wasn’t a lock to be retained, but the cost ($1.75MM) isn’t substantial. Himmelsbach had reported on Thursday that Ojeleye’s status may be affected by what happened with Gordon Hayward and other players in free agency.

Presumably, with Hayward, Brad Wanamaker, Enes Kanter, and Vincent Poirier all headed elsewhere and team salary having declined significantly, the C’s are comfortable that there’s enough room for the forward on the roster and on the cap.

Ojeleye played a limited role for the club in 2019/20, averaging 3.4 PPG and 2.1 RPG on .408/.378/.875 shooting in 69 games (14.7 MPG).

Celtics Notes: Free Agency, Theis, Green, Drummond

The playoffs showed that the Celtics could use more scoring off their bench, and Jared Weiss of The Athletic has a few suggestions that should fit into Boston’s budget. If Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter both opt in for next season, the team will be limited to the taxpayer mid-level exception, which should be about $5.7MM.

Weiss’ first choice is Langston Galloway, who averaged 10.3 points per game and shot 39.9% from 3-point range this year with the Pistons. Weiss notes that Galloway also handles the ball well enough to be considered a combo guard and would be a step up from Brad Wanamaker. Two other veteran possibilities he brings up are Orlando’s D.J. Augustin and Atlanta’s Jeff Teague, who may want to wrap up their careers on a team that can compete for a title.

Weiss also throws in point guard Jordan McLaughlin, who played 30 games for the Timberwolves this year after a sensational performance in the G League. However, the 24-year-old is a restricted free agent and Minnesota has expressed a desire to keep him, so the Celtics would likely have to go above his market value to have a chance.

There’s more from Boston:

  • Center Daniel Theis had an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee Tuesday that included removal of a loose body, the team announced on Twitter. The surgery was successful and he is expected to be ready when training camp opens (Twitter link). Theis had surgery on the same knee in 2018, notes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link).
  • In a full story, Forsberg looks at Carsen Edwards, Javonte Green and Vincent Poirier and examines whether any of them have a future in Boston. Edwards was a second-round pick who is under contract for $1.78MM next season, so he’ll likely return. Green made his NBA debut at age 26 this season after several years of playing overseas, but he has a non-guaranteed contract for 2020/21 that nearly doubles his salary to $1.5MM. Poirier will make $2.6MM next season, and Forsberg expects the Celtics to look for someone to take that salary off their hands to ease their tax situation.
  • The Celtics are monitoring the Andre Drummond situation in Cleveland and could be a potential trade partner if the Cavaliers decide to move him, sources tell Evan Dammarell of Forbes. Drummond is expected to opt into the the final year of his contract at $28.7MM, which would make him a free agent next summer. Dammarell mentions the Clippers and Spurs as other possibilities.

Atlantic Notes: Okoro, Dragic, Dunn, Theis, Celtics

Lottery prospect Isaac Okoro has received plenty of attention from the Knicks, Ian Begley of SNY TV reports. Okoro’s college coach, Auburn’s Bruce Pearl, said New York’s front office has conducted a number of interviews regarding the 6’6” Okoro, who is ranked No. 7 overall by ESPN. The Knicks own the No. 8 pick.

“They’ve talked to strength coaches, trainers, assistant coaches – they’ve done their homework. And they’ve liked Isaac from the jump,” Pearl said of the Knicks.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Goran Dragic, D.J. Augustin and Jeff Teague are some of the veteran free agent options at point guard that the Raptors might pursue, Blake Murphy of The Athletic opines. Combo guard Kris Dunn could be an even more attractive option as a restricted free agent, and De’Anthony Melton could also be a consideration despite his RFA status, Murphy adds.
  • Daniel Theis was a big part of the Celtics’ rotation during the restart and Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston doesn’t anticipate that anything will change next season. Theis complemented Boston’s stars nicely since he’s solid at screening and defending, Forsberg adds. Boston must guarantee Theis’ $5MM salary prior to next season but that seems like a foregone conclusion.
  • The Celtics own three first-round picks in the November draft and they’ll be looking to deal, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. Boston simply doesn’t have the roster space to absorb and develop three rookies and if the Celtics can’t trade one or more of those picks, they’ll look into draft-and-stash options.