Dario Saric

Western Notes: Westbrook, Rockets, Jones, Durant, Saric

While Lakers star Russell Westbrook hasn’t asked for a trade, he remains open to the possibility, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne said on The Lowe Post podcast. Training camps open later this month, so Los Angeles is running out of time if it wants to deal Westbrook before the season officially starts up.

In 78 games last year, Westbrook averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per night, shooting a respectable 44% from the floor. He played more games than any other player on the Lakers and had a better season than most fans give him credit for.

Of course, film and advanced metrics certainly wouldn’t reveal the player that was once a league MVP, nor would it reveal a player worth the $47MM he’s owed next season. However, it’s still possible Westbrook doesn’t finish — or even start — the 2022/23 season with the Lakers.

There’s more from the Western Conference:

  • The Rio Grande Valley Vipers — G League affiliate of the Rockets — have hired Kevin Burleson as head coach, the team announced on social media (Twitter link). Burleson replaces Mahmoud Abdelfattah, who was promoted to become a Rockets assistant coach. Burleson was most recently an assistant coach with the Timberwolves.
  • The Suns didn’t have in-depth discussions with the Nets about a potential Kevin Durant trade, general manager James Jones said, as relayed by Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic (subscription required). Phoenix re-signed starting center Deandre Ayton, while Durant ultimately returned to the Nets last month. The Suns were reportedly one of Durant’s preferred destinations when he requested a trade in June.
  • In a separate article for the Arizona Republic, Rankin explores five takeaways from Dario Saric‘s EuroBasket play. Saric, who was traded to the Suns in 2019, suffered a torn ACL in 2021 and missed all of last season, but he plans to be ready for the start of the 2022/23 campaign.

Pacific Notes: Beverley, Westbrook, Saric, Kings

Since the Lakers traded for veteran point guard Patrick Beverley, the future of 2021/22 starter Russell Westbrook has seemed murky. Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register wonders if the duo can actually share the floor together, or at the very least both stick around on the team this season.

Swanson reads tea leaves in recent public statements from head coach Darvin Ham and team owner Jeanie Buss that seem to suggest they appreciate Westbrook and his contributions to the club last year. Swanson writes that, because Beverley can function so well off the ball as a catch-and-shoot long range sniper, and can defend at least both guard positions, he could theoretically play alongside Westbrook, who tends to be significantly more ball-dominant.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • With Donovan Mitchell headed to the Cavaliers, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times opines that the Lakers could look to move Westbrook (and draft compensation) to the Jazz, who have already offloaded four of their best veteran players in separate deals this summer, including both their All-Stars. Woike writes that combo forward Bojan Bogdanovic should be L.A.’s top priority, and also floats the possibility of adding some combination of Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, Malik Beasley and Rudy Gay into such a deal.
  • Suns reserve big man Dario Saric missed all of the 2021/22 season while he recovered from a ruptured ACL in his right knee suffered in the first game of the 2021 Finals. The 6’10” big man played well during the Croatian national team’s FIBA EuroBasket 2025 pre-qualifiers in August, writes Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic.
  • Three reserve point guards will be duking it out during the Kings‘ training camp later this month. James Ham of Kings Beat assesses each player in terms of their relative strengths and weaknesses on the current Sacramento roster. As a former lottery pick, defensive-oriented second-year guard Davion Mitchell seems guaranteed to get some run behind pricey starter De’Aaron Fox. Ham predicts that Quinn Cook could have an edge over Matthew Dellavedova as the team’s third point guard option.

EuroBasket Notes: Notable Absences, Top Players, Saric, Schröder

Italian forward Danilo Gallinari tops the list of the most disappointing and impactful absences for EuroBasket 2022, writes Aris Barkas of Eurohoops. Gallinari injured his knee in a World Cup qualifying game last week and was diagnosed with a torn meniscus, sidelining him not only for the European Basketball Championship but likely for the start of his Celtics career as well.

Bogdan Bogdanovic (Serbia), Ricky Rubio (Spain), Nikola Vucevic (Montenegro), Paolo Banchero (Italy), and Victor Wembanyama (France) are among the other most notable EuroBasket absences, as Barkas details — some of those players will be absent due to injuries, while others opted out of the tournament as they prepare for the upcoming 2022/23 season.

Here’s more on EuroBasket, which tipped off today:

  • Eurohoops identifies the top 10 players participating in EuroBasket, while ESPN (Insider link) ranks the top 25 to watch. Eurohoops has Giannis Antetokounmpo at the top of its list, followed by Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic, and Rudy Gobert — ESPN moves Jokic up to No. 1, sliding Giannis and Luka down one spot each.
  • Within that ESPN Insider story, Kevin Pelton says Suns forward Dario Saric and free agent guard Dennis Schröder are among the players he’ll be keeping a close eye on at EuroBasket. Saric hasn’t played since 2020/21 due a torn ACL, while a strong EuroBasket showing could help Schröder secure a spot on an NBA roster in time for training camp.
  • In his latest Substack article, Marc Stein explains why this year’s EuroBasket is the most anticipated version yet. In addition to the high number of NBA players participating, the race for the gold appears more wide open than usual, Stein writes.
  • In another Eurohoops article, Barkas makes his predictions for which teams will come out of each EuroBasket group and what the knockout round will look like.

International Notes: Schröder, Theis, Giannis, Satoransky

Free agent guard Dennis Schröder won’t accompany his German teammates to Sweden for Thursday’s opening game of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, according to Eurohoops. Schröder is recovering from an ankle injury he suffered in the Hamburg Super Cup tournament and will remain in Germany for treatment. There’s a chance he may recover in time for next Sunday’s home contest against Slovenia.

Schröder remains unsigned after splitting last season with the Celtics and Rockets. Although he received positive reviews in Houston after being acquired at the trade deadline, the team is emphasizing youth and doesn’t appear interested in bringing back Schröder.

Germany is already without Pacers center Daniel Theis, who will miss the World Cup Qualifiers and possibly next month’s EuroBasket tournament due to an undisclosed injury. He is training individually and being monitored by the German national team’s medical staff, according to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops.

The Germans are also missing Maxi Kleber, Moritz Wagner and Isaac Bonga due to injuries.

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo sat out Greece’s final exhibition game with back soreness, but he’s expected to be ready for Thursday’s World Cup Qualifier against Serbia, Askounis writes in a separate story. Antetokounmpo underwent an MRI that showed no damage to his back.
  • NBA players Dario Saric, Ivica Zubac and Bojan Bogdanovic are all on the final roster for Croatia, Eurohoops reports. Mario Hezonja is also part of the Croatian team, which missed out on the World Cup Qualifiers but will participate in EuroBasket. Saric sat out all of last season with a torn right ACL.
  • Czech Republic guard Tomas Satoransky appears to have avoided a major injury to his right ankle, Eurohoops adds in another piece. Satoransky was hurt in Saturday’s game against Germany, and while there has been no official announcement on his condition, Czech reporter Jakub Kanta offered encouraging news. “The X-ray has already ruled out a fracture,” he tweeted, “but the extent of the injury will only be determined by an MRI in the Czech Republic after the swelling subsides.” Satoransky recently signed with FC Barcelona after spending six seasons in the NBA.

More Than 30 NBA Players On Track To Suit Up For EuroBasket

The first EuroBasket tournament in five years will tip off in two weeks and there are currently 34 NBA players on track to participate in the event, representing 17 different countries, according to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops.net.

EuroBasket is a 24-team international basketball competition also known as the European Basketball Championship. It historically took place every two years, but that gap was recently adjusted to four years, emulating the FIBA World Cup schedule.

The last EuroBasket tournament was played in 2017 — the next one had been scheduled for 2021, but was pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics. As a result, after being played every two years since 1947, it has now been five years since the last EuroBasket tournament, easily the longest layoff since World War II.

It’s possible that some NBA players will be cut from their teams’ rosters or will have to drop out due to injuries or personal reasons before the event begins on September 1, but in general enthusiasm to participate in the long-awaited event appears high.

Here’s the list of NBAers currently set to play in EuroBasket, per Eurohoops:

There are also multiple NBA free agents on EuroBasket rosters, including French swingman Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and German guard Dennis Schröder.

A number of young NBA players, such as 2022 draftees Jeremy Sochan and Nikola Jovic, have dropped out to focus on getting ready for the 2022/23 season, while others, including Bogdan Bogdanovic (Serbia) and Frank Ntilikina (France), were ruled out due to injuries.

Round robin play will begin on September 1, with each team facing the other five clubs in its group once. The top four teams in each group will advance to a 16-team bracket that begins on September 10. The final will take place on September 18, just over a week before NBA training camps get underway.

Pacific Notes: Kings, Suns, Saric, LeBron

In taking stock of the Kings‘ entire 2022/23 roster, Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee finds some reasons for optimism.

Biderman cites the two-way upside and on-court fit of rookie Keegan Murray, the Summer League MVP and No. 4 overall draft pick this year, as a key part of the sunny outlook for Sacramento this season.

As Biderman notes, star point guard De’Aaron Fox struggled to connect consistently from long range for the bulk of the season, but made 38% of his triples across his final 16 contests, following the team’s trade for center Domantas Sabonis. Biderman considers Murray, Fox, Sabonis and second-year guard Davion Mitchell, the ninth pick in 2021 out of Baylor, to be the club’s core moving forward.

Biderman also expresses enthusiasm for the three-point shooting help that should be provided by new additions Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns may be able to build on their continuity after two relatively successful seasons, but Bobby Marks of ESPN (YouTube video link) wonders how newly re-signed center Deandre Ayton will fit in following a tense postseason and summer. Marks ultimately projects a repeat of the team’s regular-season dominance in 2021/22. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst opines that the Suns could look to move veteran starting power forward Jae Crowder, a free agent in 2023, by the season’s trade deadline.
  • After missing 2021/22 with a torn ACL in his right knee, Suns big man Dario Saric talked about returning to game action for Croatia this summer, writes Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops. “The feeling of being back is fantastic,” Saric said. “After the end of the NBA season, I trained there until mid-July. I was preparing to be as fit as possible. I feel good.”
  • Discussing LeBron James‘ contract situation, Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter video link) opines that it might behoove the Lakers‘ All-Star forward to follow the example set by Sixers guard James Harden. Harden opted out of the final year of his deal this summer before ultimately taking a pay cut so that Philadelphia management could add more quality depth around Harden and Joel Embiid than would have otherwise been possible. If James takes the same route, it could potentially open up a maximum-salary slot for L.A. next summer, Bontemps observes.

Fischer’s Latest: Durant, Warriors, Heat, Barrett, Herro, Suns

Although some reports have mentioned the Warriors as a possible suitor for Nets star Kevin Durant, Golden State doesn’t appear to have made “serious overtures” for the two-time Finals MVP, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. While Fischer hints that the two teams have at least talked, he says little traction has been generated.

The Heat, meanwhile, continue to focus on acquiring either Durant or Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell before moving on to other business. Multiple sources with knowledge of the situation tell Fischer that Miami is prioritizing Durant over Mitchell.

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • Knicks personnel have projected confidence that they’ll be able to acquire Mitchell without including RJ Barrett in their offer, according to Fischer, who hears from sources that the Jazz may not be eager to give Barrett a lucrative long-term extension anyway.
  • While both Barrett and Tyler Herro are considered candidates for maximum-salary rookie scale extensions, Fischer says NBA executives believe the Heat guard is a better bet than the Knicks forward to sign a new deal this offseason (rather than in 2023 free agency). “They always seem to pay their guys,” one assistant GM said of the Heat.
  • According to Fischer, league personnel continue to classify Suns forwards Jae Crowder and Dario Saric as potential trade candidates. Both players are on expiring contracts for a Phoenix club whose team salary is now well above the tax line.

Pacific Notes: Wall, DiVincenzo, Lakers, Saric

In his first public comments since joining the Clippers as a free agent, John Wall said he’s looking forward to playing on such a talented roster, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN relays.

I don’t have to do it every night, I don’t have to be Batman every night for us to win,” Wall said on Saturday at the Las Vegas Summer League. “That’s the ultimate goal for me is [at] this part of my career, I don’t want to have to be the Batman every night to try to win. On our team that we have, I think anyone can be Batman.”

Wall also said he never seriously considered joining another team besides the Clippers, according to Youngmisuk.

I really didn’t care about all the other teams,” Wall said of his other potential suitors. “The other teams are great, and I’m glad teams wanted to come after me, but I kind of looked at the picture of like, where can I go [where] I don’t have to be the John Wall from 2016 and have to carry the load and do all those [things] and have the pressure on me. I think [LA] was missing a piece of having a point guard, and it’s a great situation for me to be there.”

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Recruitment calls from Stephen Curry and Draymond Green helped Donte DiVincenzo land on the Warriors as his free agent destination, writes Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area. “Once I had the conversation with Steph and Draymond, everything kind of slowed down for me a little bit because I got away from the numbers, the dollar signs and everything,” DiVincenzo said. “I was more so focused on what is best for Donte and what is best for me going forward. With that culture and environment, it’s something that I want to be a part of and it’s something of who I am. I don’t have to change who I am. I can just totally fit in and become a Warrior.” DiVincenzo signed a two-year deal with Golden State with a player option in the second season. He reportedly had offers for more money, but the ability to join a contender and possibly build up his value next season appealed to the 25-year-old.
  • Lakers head coach Darvin Ham recently expressed confidence in his coaching staff’s ability to get the most out of the team’s newly-signed free agents, per Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group. “There’s various circumstances as to why people have a dip in shooting,” Ham said. “Sometimes it’s injury-related, sometimes it’s minutes, who you’re out on the floor with, how many touches. So only thing we’re worried about is what we’re doing going forward, and we feel we’ve got a good group – a good young group of free agents that’s gonna come in and make an impact.” The Lakers have added Lonnie Walker, Troy Brown Jr., Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones and Thomas Bryant thus far in free agency, prioritizing youth and athleticism over older veterans.
  • Suns big man Dario Saric, who missed the entire 2021/22 season after suffering a torn right ACL in the 2021 Finals and underwent arthroscopic surgery in May to repair a torn meniscus in the same knee, recently gave a positive update on his status, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Saric just started doing contact work with coaches and hopes to play a couple of games with the Croatian national team prior to training camp. “I’m feeling good, I’m feeling really good,” said Saric. “I’m moving better, moving faster. I was one year out of basketball. I’ve had time to settle my mind to really dive into this extra positive. Working to be as best as I can.”

FA/Trade Rumors: Ayton, Centers, Turner, Beal, Saric, Lakers

Echoing comments made last week by Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack article that Suns center Deandre Ayton – a restricted free agent this summer – may be the biggest name to change teams in the coming weeks.

Phoenix is “increasingly expected” to explore sign-and-trade scenarios involving Ayton, according to Stein, who says there’s plenty of skepticism around the NBA about the team’s desire to make a significant financial commitment to the young center.

Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report conveys a similar sentiment in his latest round-up of NBA rumors, suggesting there’s “considerable skepticism” that the Suns will re-sign Ayton. The Pistons, Spurs, Trail Blazers, Hawks, and Raptors have all been mentioned as possible suitors for the former No. 1 overall pick, Stein notes.

Here are a few more updates from Stein and Pincus on some of this year’s top free agents and trade candidates:

  • According to Pincus, some sources believe that the Spurs (Jakob Poeltl), Bulls (Nikola Vucevic), Hawks (Clint Capela/John Collins), and Pacers (Myles Turner) are among the teams that could be willing to move their current centers in a package for one of the offseason’s top available big men (Ayton, Rudy Gobert, etc.). Grizzlies center Steven Adams also may be a summer trade candidate, though he’s well-liked in the locker room, says Pincus.
  • While both Pincus and Stein have talked to sources who believe the Pacers are likely to keep Myles Turner, Stein notes that the situation could change if the big man wants to play out his expiring contract rather than agreeing to an extension, since Indiana may not want to risk losing him for nothing next year.
  • According to Stein, one or two teams hopeful of landing Bradley Beal believe the All-Star guard wants to be the Dirk Nowitzki of D.C., sticking with the Wizards for his entire career.
  • While Dario Saric‘s $9.24MM expiring contract makes him an obvious trade candidate, Pincus writes that the Suns are hopeful the forward can return to form after missing last season due to an ACL tear, and may not be looking to move him.
  • If the Lakers have any hope of trading Russell Westbrook without including a first-round pick, they’ll likely have to take on at least one or two players earning $15-25MM annually on multiyear deals, Pincus writes, citing veterans like Davis Bertans and Duncan Robinson as hypothetical examples. Rival executives and agents don’t expect the Lakers to get clarity from LeBron James on his long-term intentions before the draft or free agency, which will complicate L.A.’s decision-making process — the team would be more comfortable taking on pricey multiyear contracts with a guarantee that LeBron is sticking around long-term, Pincus observes.

Suns Notes: Paul, Ayton, Booker, Johnson

The Suns‘ season ended in embarrassing fashion on Sunday night in Game 7 at home vs. Dallas, falling behind by 30 points by halftime and trailing by as many as 46 in the second half before losing by a score of 123-90. After yet another Game 7 loss for Chris Paul, the 37-year-old point guard made it clear he has every intention of returning to Phoenix next season and trying to right the ship.

“You play long enough and you don’t win, every time you lose, they’re going to say it was your best chance,” Paul said, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “But I think for me, us, it’s we’ll be right back next year. I’ll tell you that much. I’m not retiring tomorrow, thank God. Hopefully, I’m healthy coming back. But I’m (going to) keep playing.”

Paul had a poor showing on Sunday, recording just 10 points and four assists and failing to score his first field goal until the Suns were down by 40 points. He played through a left quad injury that limited his mobility, sources tell ESPN’s McMenamin and Marc J. Spears (Twitter link).

In his post-game comments to reporters, Suns head coach Monty Williams took responsibility for the Suns’ sluggish performance and for the loss, but Paul said the blame should fall on his own shoulders.

“I think we just came out and just didn’t have enough,” Paul said, according to McMenamin. “I think Mont said that’s on him, but I think that’s on me, as the point guard, the leader of the team. To come out and make sure you’re getting the right shots and all that.”

Paul has a $28.4MM guaranteed salary for next season, followed by a partially guaranteed $30.8MM salary in ’23/24 and a non-guaranteed $30MM salary in ’24/25.

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • Suns center Deandre Ayton was pulled early in the third quarter on Sunday and didn’t return to the game after exchanging words with Williams on the sidelines, according to McMenamin, who notes that the former No. 1 overall pick logged just 17 minutes, the third-fewest minutes he has played in a game since entering the league.
  • Asked after the game about the reason for Ayton’s limited playing time, Williams curtly responded, “It’s internal.” It’s an ominous ending to the season for Ayton, who will be a restricted free agent this summer and will likely be seeking a maximum-salary contract or something close to it.
  • Ayton’s upcoming free agency will be the primary focus for the Suns this summer, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) details in his offseason preview. With Ayton up for a new deal and Devin Booker and Cameron Johnson both eligible for extensions, Phoenix’s roster could start to get very expensive, Marks observes.
  • In his own preview of the Suns’ offseason, Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype also examines potential new contracts for Ayton, Booker, and Johnson.
  • The Suns could have used injured forward Dario Saric in their series vs. Dallas, suggests John Hollinger of The Athletic, writing that the team was ultimately undone by its lack of perimeter lineups to counteract the Mavericks’ “space ball” approach. Dallas often employed lineups with five capable three-point shooters, reducing the defensive impact of Suns centers Ayton and JaVale McGee.