David Nwaba

Nets Sign David Nwaba

JULY 17: The Nets have officially signed Nwaba, the team confirmed today in a press release.

JULY 14: David Nwaba has agreed to a two-year contract with the Nets, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The deal includes a team option for the second season, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic, who adds that the Pacers, Kings, Rockets and Suns all had interest in Nwaba (Twitter link).

It’ll be a minimum-salary deal for Nwaba, who will make approximately $1.7MM for the upcoming season and $1.8MM in 2020/21 with a July 7 deadline for the option decision, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. The Nets now have 15 players with guaranteed contracts.

Brooklyn will be the fourth stop in four years for the 26-year-old shooting guard, who spent his first three seasons with the Lakers, Bulls and Cavaliers. He appeared in 51 games for Cleveland this year, averaging 6.5 points in about 19 minutes per night.

The Cavs opted last month not to tender a $1.9MM qualifying offer to Nwaba, making him an unrestricted free agent. Even so, Cleveland had expressed some interest in bringing him back.

The addition of Nwaba continues an impressive summer for Brooklyn, which hit the free agent jackpot by signing Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan.

Cavaliers Notes: Love, Smith, Nwaba

There’s a belief within the league that the Cavaliers will receive trade inquiries for Kevin Love this offseason, as Joe Vardon of The Athletic writes.

“Yes, one of the big-market teams that fail to land a big fish are going to make an offer for Kevin,” an executive told Vardon. Another source said that if Love was a free agent this summer and coming off of an injury-free year, he would be in line for a massive deal.

“He would get four years and $120MM in this marketplace,” the other executive said. “I mean, Al Horford might get a similar deal.”

Love will make slightly under $29MM during the 2019/20 season and has approximately $91MM on his deal in the ensuing three years. The opinion that Love’s contract allows him to be a positive asset isn’t unanimous throughout the league.

“His contract is hard to digest unless he’s clearly the missing piece,” a separate league executive told Vardon.

Love has been the subject of trade rumors ever since the Cavaliers acquired him during the 2014 offseason. He signed an extension with the club last offseason and the team has resisted trade overtures. GM Koby Altman won’t deal Love unless the return makes the Cavs a better squad, and Vardon writes that it’s unlikely that the kind of deal that Altman is looking for will surface.

Here’s more from Cleveland:

  • Trading J.R. Smith appears unlikely at this point, Vardon adds in the same piece. The team will need to waive him by June 30 to avoid paying his full contract. Only $3.9MM of his deal is guaranteed for next season.
  • Vardon (same piece) hears that the Cavs are likely to do David Nwaba “a favor” by not tendering him a qualifying offer, thus allowing him to hit the market as an unrestricted free agent.
  • Free agency in Cleveland should be quiet with the franchise currently over the salary cap, Vardon explains. It’s unlikely the team uses a “significant” portion of its mid-level exception or the trade exception the franchise netted when it dealt away Rodney Hood this past season.
  • While cutting Smith loose will get the Cavaliers below the luxury tax threshold, it’s unlikely the team will consider going back over that line to fill their last couple open roster spots. Vardon expects Cleveland to fill those spots with minimum salary players.

Cavaliers Notes: Nwaba, Drew, Sexton, Frye

Having signed a one-year contract with the Cavaliers last summer in the hopes of playing a regular role, David Nwaba put up modest numbers in Cleveland, averaging 6.7 PPG and 3.2 RPG in 50 games (19.4 MPG) while playing solid perimeter defense. Now, he’s hoping for a longer-term stay with the Cavs, as he tells Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

“I haven’t heard anything yet,” Nwaba said. “Hopefully everything works out where I’m back here. I don’t know what their plans are, but I want to come back.”

Nwaba, who missed time due to health issues in 2018/19, can be a restricted free agent this summer if the Cavaliers opt to issue a qualifying offer worth approximately $1.9MM. It remains to be seen if the team will do so.

Here’s more from out of Cleveland:

  • Prior to what could have been his last game as the Cavaliers’ head coach, Larry Drew sidestepped a question asking whether he wanted to keep the job in 2019/20, writes Fedor. “I really don’t want to get into that part of it right now,” Drew said. “What I really want to do is just finish this game tonight and (general manager) Koby (Altman) and I will sit down and talk about it. We’re going to give it a few days and we’ll sit down and discuss it.”
  • It has been mostly a lost season in Cleveland, but the development of rookie point guard Collin Sexton has been a major silver lining, as Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com details.
  • In an entertaining piece for Cleveland.com, Fedor spoke to several of Channing Frye‘s teammates, ex-teammates, and executives who know him well. Those sources shared their memories of Frye, who will retire after having played his last NBA game on Tuesday.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Central Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Central Division:

Wayne Selden, Bulls, 24, SG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $2.86MM deal in 2017
Selden was part of the Justin Holiday deal with the Grizzlies in January. He could be a restricted free agent if Chicago chooses to extend a $1.93MM qualifying offer. Selden hasn’t done anything to convince the front office to retain his rights. He had an 18-point game in a blowout loss to Detroit on Sunday but he’s mostly been a non-factor off the bench. He’s posted a minus 4.5 Box Plus/Minus Rating, according to Basketball-Reference, which runs parallel to his career rating.

David Nwaba, Cavaliers, 26, SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $1.5MM deal in 2018
Injuries and a lack of production have made this a ho-hum season for Nwaba, who is playing for his third team in three years. He’s had occasional outbursts, such as a 22-point outing against Brooklyn this month, but has otherwise done little to dent the stat sheet. He can be a restricted free agent if the front office extends a low-cost $1.89MM qualifying offer. The cash-strapped Cavs will probably decline that option unless they see him as a rotation piece going forward.

Jose Calderon, Pistons, 37, PG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.39MM deal in 2018
Calderon has carved out a nice, long NBA career that began in the 2005/06 season with Toronto. He rejoined his former Raptors coach, Dwane Casey, in Detroit as a third-string point guard after some good moments in Cleveland last season. It hasn’t gone well. Father Time has clearly caught up to Calderon, who was exposed when primary backup Ish Smith was sidelined by a adductor injury. This is likely Calderon’s last hurrah, though he could remain in the league as a coach if he so chooses.

Thaddeus Young, Pacers, 30, PF (Up) — Signed to a four-year, $54MM deal in 2015
A steady, durable big man, Young has been a consistent contributor throughout his career. This year might be best, reinforcing his value in a walk year. His Box Plus/Minus rating on Basketball-Reference is a career-best 3.1 and coach Nate McMillan has flowed with praise over Young’s play and leadership. Young doesn’t post big numbers, but he fills the stat sheet and provides intangibles that endears him to teammates and coaches. He should receive another pricey, multiyear offer this summer.

Malcolm Brogdon, Bucks, SG (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.78MM deal in 2016
An unlikely Rookie of the Year recipient after getting drafted in the second round, Brogdon has taken his play up a level or two after an injury-marred sophomore campaign. Starting for the current top seed in the East, Brogdon is averaging 15.6 PPG on 50.5% overall shooting. He’s a 42.6% shooter from distance and is virtually automatic at the free throw line (92.8%). He also rebounds well for his position and facilitates the offense (3.2 APG). Brogdon will be a restricted free agent and the Bucks may have to match a big offer sheet to retain him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Central Notes: Kennard, Porter Jr., Hutchison, Nwaba

Pistons fans may never forgive the previous regime for passing over Donovan Mitchell and taking Luke Kennard in the 2017 draft, but Kennard is doing his best lately to soften the blow. He has scored in double figures 10 of the last 14 games, helping the Pistons go 12-2 during that stretch. Opposing coaches have taken notice.

“Luke Kennard is really growing up right in front of us,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “The pick-and-roll game, shooting the ball. … You know you have respect when teams come out and double-team you. They were blitzing his pick and rolls. It’s a sign of respect around our league. He’s going to learn how to handle those situations and not let that take his confidence out of his shooting.”

Kennard will make $3.8MM next season and it seems like a mere formality the Pistons will pick up his $5.27MM fourth-year option before the October 31 deadline.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Casey feels the Bulls made a wise decision by acquiring small forward Otto Porter from the Wizards. He’s averaging 18.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 3.3 APG in his first 11 games with Chicago. “That was a smart move on Chicago’s part to bring him in and kind of set the tone for that team,” the Pistons’ head coach said. “You always want to have a guy that can shoot the ball and defend with his size.”
  • The Bulls’ prior starter at small forward could be done for the season, according to Sam Smith from the team’s website. Chandler Hutchison had a scan earlier this week on the toe injury to his right foot. The rookie first-rounder out of Boise State will be reevaluated in two weeks and a decision will then be made whether to shut him down. Hutchison, who was injured on January 25th, has not been able to work out because of a foot injury, Smith notes.
  • The Cavaliers should take a hard look at retaining guard David Nwaba, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Nwaba will be a restricted free agent this summer if the Cavs extend a qualifying offer of approximately $1.9MM this summer. Given his injury-riddled season and the fact the team was able to sign him to a minimum contract last summer, it’s hard to envision another team prying him away, Fedor notes. But Nwaba has the second-best plus-minus rating on the team behind only Kevin Love, Fedor adds.

Central Notes: Pacers, Love, Dunn

The Pacers, fresh off of a season-worst four-game losing streak, lack swagger without star Victor Oladipo, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star writes. And it’s not just at the end of close games.

Michael notes that plenty of the Pacers’ struggles could be addressed by the addition of an established shot-maker, the likes of which could very realistically be available when the buyer’s market typically ramps up after the trade deadline.

If a player like Wesley Matthews, who was recently acquired by the Knicks in their Kristaps Porzingis‘ trade, has his expiring contract bought out, he could be of great service to a team like the Pacers.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • For the first time in over three months, Cavaliers forward Kevin Love is taking part in 5-on-5 contact practices, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes. Love’s last taste of action was on Oct. 24, prior to undergoing surgery to repair a toe injury. Guard David Nwaba, who has missed 18 games of his own, did not fare as well in the practice — the Cavs have pulled back somewhat on his rehab process.
  • Despite reports that the Bulls will be gauging Kris Dunn‘s worth over the final 30 games of the regular season, the 24-year-old former fifth-overall pick is unfazed. The third-year-guard tells Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times that he’ll compete anywhere he ends up, just as he has this year, through a knee injury and mid-season coaching change.
  • Newly appointed All-Star Khris Middleton had high praise for the Bucks organization, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. “For us,” Middleton told Velasquez, referring to himself and Giannis Antetokounmpo,”It’s not being in the right market, it’s being with the right team. This organization laid down everything that they can to make sure we succeeded.”

Trade Rumors: Hawks, Most Active Teams, Porter

The NBA’s 2019 trade deadline is now less than three weeks away, and a number of the trade candidates whose names are popping up the most have something in common, as Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports tweets: They’re all on expiring contracts.

Smith identifies Dewayne Dedmon (Hawks), Jeremy Lin (Hawks), Jonathon Simmons (Magic), Wayne Ellington (Heat), Robin Lopez (Bulls), Enes Kanter (Knicks), Noah Vonleh (Knicks), and David Nwaba (Cavaliers) as those players cited most frequently in trade chatter. Of those eight players, Simmons is the only one under contract for next season, and his 2019/20 salary of $5.7MM is partially guaranteed for just $1MM. In other words, his deal can be viewed as a de facto expiring contract too.

Here are a few more notes and rumors on the NBA’s trade market:

  • The Hawks appear willing to take on 2019/20 salary in trade discussions, according to Smith (Twitter link). A willingness to eat a bad contract in exchange for a more favorable asset could make Atlanta a team to watch in the coming weeks, since most teams around the NBA want to preserve their cap space for 2019.
  • Smith names the Sixers, Nets, Magic, Kings, Rockets, Pelicans, and Clippers as the teams that appear to be most active in trying to upgrade their rosters (Twitter link). Besides gauging the trade market, these clubs are also keeping an eye on potential buyout candidates, Smith notes.
  • The Wizards have shown “little appetite” for any trade that involves moving Otto Porter for a return heavy on future assets and cap flexibility, sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe. That stance aligns with comments on Thursday made by owner Ted Leonsis, who stressed that Washington continues to push for a playoff spot and has no plans to tank.

Central Notes: Hill, Turner, Pistons, Nwaba

George Hill has faced many challenges over the course of his NBA career, but the 11-year guard has been tasked with a different mission this month: Getting acclimated with his new teammates in Milwaukee.

The Bucks traded for Hill as part of a three-team deal nine days ago, acquiring a veteran presence and additional player in the team’s backcourt behind Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon. Hill has already earned the respect of several young players in the locker room, including Brogdon — a former Rookie of the Year winner.

“He’s a really, really good vet on and off the floor,” Brogdon said of Hill, according to Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “He’s not one of these vets you bring in that’s (just) a great locker-room guy. He’s a guy that’s going to contribute on the floor, lead by example with his voice, really help contribute this year. …

“He knows who he is; he’s a very confident guy, but he also knows what it takes to win. He’s been part of winning teams, winning cultures. We need someone like that in our locker room and he’s going to serve as that.”

Hill made several deep postseason runs with the Pacers before joining the Jazz in 2016. He’s also made stops with the Kings and Cavaliers, and started his NBA career under Hall of Fame coach Gregg Popovich with the Spurs. This month’s deal marked the fourth time Hill was traded in his professional career.

“For me, it’s a blessing no matter what,” Hill said. “People say, ‘Well, you’ve been sent to different places.’ To be sent to different places it means you’re wanted in different places at the same time.”

There’s more from the Central Division today:

  • Pacers center Myles Turner was fined $15,000 by the NBA on Saturday for directing an inappropriate gesture toward the spectator stands. The incident occurred in the second quarter of the team’s win over the Sixers on Friday night.
  • The Pistons‘ new medical team has been noticeably busy since the start of the season, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes. Ed Stefanski, who was hired to run the team after the franchise parted ways with Stan Van Gundy, decided to go in a different direction with the training staff before the 2018/19 season began. Early injuries to Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard and others have tested the new group for the better, as detailed by Beard.
  • Cavaliers guard David Nwaba is determined to fight through his knee injury, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes. Nwaba missed nine straight games with general soreness, but appeared in the team’s last two contests in limited time. “It’s still pretty sore. Just something I’ve got to fight through,” Nwaba said. “See if it gets better over time.”

Cavaliers Notes: Sexton, Nwaba, Thompson, Smith

Three weeks ago, there were grumblings from the Cavaliers’ locker room that rookie point guard Collin Sexton wasn’t ready for the NBA. Sexton has changed a lot of minds since then, punctuated by his 29-point performance in last night’s win over the Rockets, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

Coach Larry Drew ordered the Cavs’ veterans to stop making public statements about Sexton, who moved into the starting lineup when George Hill was sidelined by a shoulder injury. That gave Sexton a chance to gain the trust of his teammates and build up his confidence.

“He’s finding a really good rhythm,” Tristan Thompson said. “I think myself and the other veterans are finding ways to make it easier for him. In terms of sets we want to run, find a package of offensive sets that he likes, that he’s comfortable with and he can read and make plays off.”

Sexton is likely to keep the starting role when Hill returns to action, which should happen soon, Fedor adds.

There’s more news out of Cleveland:

  • Sexton’s numbers through his first 18 games are very similar to what Kyrie Irving did during his rookie season, notes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Former coach Tyronn Lue limited Sexton’s playing time early in the year because he didn’t want to invite comparisons with Irving. However, in his eight starts since Hill’s injury, Sexton is posting a 19.6/3.4/2.6 line while shooting .508 from the field and 10 of 18 from 3-point range.
  • The Cavaliers’ improved play this week coincides with Drew’s decision to move David Nwaba into the starting lineup, Vardon adds in the same story. Nwaba has been matching up with elite offensive players — guarding LeBron James, Ben Simmons and James Harden this week — and easing the defensive burden on Sexton.
  • Thompson has changed from a liability to an important asset over the past year, states Sam Amico of AmicoHoops. The veteran center was injured and seemed uninterested for much of last season, Amico contends, but he put up a pair of double-doubles over the weekend against the Sixers and Rockets. He has one more season left on his contract at more than $18.5MM.
  • The Cavs have also been better since parting ways with J.R. Smith, Amico adds, suggesting that having an unhappy veteran in the locker room was weighing down the team.

Cavs Remain Committed To Winning Despite Rotation Changes

The Cavaliers remain committed to winning this season rather than tearing down the team and rebuilding, Joe Vardon of the Athletic reports. The front office doesn’t view Sunday’s blowout loss to the Hawks as a reflection of what to expect going forward with this squad.

Before the 22-point loss, the team owned a record of 0-2 and Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith, and Channing Frye, the team’s three oldest players, were told that they were not going to be in the rotation for the foreseeable future. Coach Tyronn Lue and GM Koby Altman sat with the trio on Saturday—a day before the loss—and explained that Cleveland was going to give its young players the opportunity to showcase their skills. Lue’s rotation was teetering between 11 and 12 players and it needed to be shortened. Frye was already not in the rotation, but Korver and Smith were both set to receive a demotion.

Today, after the 22-point loss, Lue began practice with both Korver and Smith among the team’s top 10 players. Both vets are expected to play on Wednesday against the Nets. Vardon notes that it’s possible Lue made this decision against the front office’s wishes.

The front office is committed to the team’s youth but also pledged to Kevin Love that the organization would not tank, something Love wanted to know before he signed his four-year extension. Love understands the need to develop players for the future, but sees a reason for playing the vets now.

“In our commitment to helping guys grow, the guys who know how to win have to play,” Love told Vardon, in supporting Lue’s latest decision. “I think having Kyle and Channing and J.R., those guys know how to win in this league, and having them will help bring the others along. So they need to play.”

Love feels that younger players may pick up bad habits as a result of not playing alongside veterans. He spoke about how he did just that playing on a young team in Minnesota.

“I had to step into playing so many minutes every single night, and my bad habits had accumulated. I got here and I had to shake a lot of those, learn what it is to sacrifice,” Love said. “In practice time and teaching points and film, all that stuff that goes on away from the games, that’s where I think those guys are gonna grow.”

Lue sees Cleveland’s defensive woes as a communication issue and he said the team’s players either have to “talk or they’ve got to come and sit down [on the bench],” as Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com relays.

“I think the biggest thing is communication,” Lue said. “When you’re switching you have to call the switches out so the man can’t get behind and get dunks and layups and easy shots.”

This is a situation that could fluctuate over the next several weeks. The team can only dress 13 players and on Sunday, David Nwaba was in street clothes while the team’s three oldest players sat on the bench in uniform. A front office executive tells Vardon that Nwaba is unlikely to be out of uniform going forward, so it’s unclear who will be in street clothes when the team plays on Wednesday.

Korver is considered a strong candidate to be moved at some point during the season, though the team has not explored trade opportunities for him since training camp. Vardon adds that if a market developed for Tristan Thompson, the Cavs would likely listen to offers. Cleveland’s payroll sits at approximately $115.7MM, roughly $14MM over the salary cap.