DeAndre' Bembry

Lowe’s Latest: K. Williams, Payne, Monk, Burks, Hartenstein

For the 10th year in a row, ESPN’s Zach Lowe has named his end-of-season “Luke Walton All-Stars,” honoring overlooked rotation players and NBA journeymen who have impressed him most over the course of the year.

Nets guard Bruce Brown, Warriors forward Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Raptors teammates Yuta Watanabe and DeAndre’ Bembry are among the players who made Lowe’s list, which also includes a handful of interesting tidbits on some of his choices. Here are a few highlights:

  • Thunder forward Kenrich Williams, who resisted signing a two-way contract multiple times earlier in his career, has enjoyed a breakout year in Oklahoma City. Sources tell Lowe that several playoff teams expressed trade interest in Williams prior to March’s deadline, but he wanted to remain in OKC, where he’s under contract for two more years (both non-guaranteed).
  • Suns guard Cameron Payne told Lowe that he thought his NBA career might be over in 2020, when the Mavericks opted to sign Trey Burke over him for the summer restart after he had played well for Dallas’ G League affiliate. However, he got an opportunity shortly thereafter with Phoenix, in large part because head coach Monty Williams had gotten to know him during their time with the Thunder.
  • Another former first-round pick, Hornets guard Malik Monk, was concerned about his NBA career last year as well, following his suspension for violating the NBA’s drug policy, his brother Marcus Monk told Lowe. The former Kentucky standout has enjoyed a career year while trying to let go of tension about his role, Lowe writes. “Guys who have success in college think the NBA is going to go a certain way,” Marcus said. “You think you’re invincible. Malik fell victim to that. I’m proud of how he matured.”
  • Before he signed a one-year, $6MM contract with the Knicks last fall, Alec Burks discussed a deal with the Bulls, according to Lowe. Burks’ familiarity with Knicks assistant Johnnie Bryant from their time in Utah was a factor in his decision to choose New York.
  • After an underwhelming stint in Denver, Isaiah Hartenstein has played well for the Cavaliers, averaging 8.3 PPG and 6.0 RPG in 16 games (17.9 MPG). Lowe says he wouldn’t be surprised if Hartenstein turns down his minimum-salary player option for 2021/22 to seek a new deal.

Raptors Notes: Lowry, Ujiri, Bembry, Watson

During the hours leading up to Thursday’s trade deadline, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca tweeted that the Sixers and Raptors appeared to be “at the one-yard line” in their discussions on a Kyle Lowry trade. Obviously, those talks didn’t make it into the end zone and Lowry ended up staying put. But Sam Amick of The Athletic hears that Toronto did feel at one point as if a deal with Philadelphia was close.

According to Amick, the deal would have included Danny Green, who would’ve been re-routed to a third team. It’s a safe bet that at least one of Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle would have been part of the package too. However, the draft compensation involved in the proposed trade was the obstacle that held things up, a source tells Amick.

Following up today on the Lowry discussions, Grange says (via Twitter) that the Sixers knew Miami was Lowry’s preferred landing spot, so they had to view him as a possible rental. That limited what they were willing to offer beyond Maxey, Grange adds. The Lakers were in a similar boat with Talen Horton-Tucker, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca, while the Heat were unwilling to offer Tyler Herro for a player they could theoretically sign in free agency this summer.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • While the Raptors didn’t trade Lowry at the deadline, it’s hard to shake the sense that more drastic changes could be coming as soon as this offseason, Grange writes for Sportsnet.ca. While Lowry could sign a new contract with Toronto, it seems just as likely that he could head elsewhere, possibly in a sign-and-trade deal.
  • Like Lowry, Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri is also on an expiring contract, and while he spoke glowingly about the franchise on Thursday, he gave no indication that an in-season extension is around the corner. “We’ll visit this at the end of the season at some point,” Ujiri said of his contract with Toronto, per Grange.
  • During his media session on Thursday, Ujiri addressed the idea that the Raptors’ asking price for Lowry was too high: “I was surprised (the offers) weren’t better because, to be honest, I’ve viewed him as somebody that can go out and put a stamp on what you can do this year. … I’ve lived it, I’ve seen it… I know what the guy does. I know who he is. And that’s the truth. So, yeah, we’re going to (be) skewed in some kind of way and I’m biased in many ways with the players we have and I hope I’m pardoned that if I valued him too much, but that’s what I believe in today.”
  • Raptors reserves DeAndre’ Bembry and Paul Watson have entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and won’t play on Friday night, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca.

Raptors Notes: Anunoby, Lowry, Arena Plans, Bembry

Now that Giannis Antetokounmpo is no longer on track to reach free agency in 2021 and preserving as much cap room as possible for next summer may no longer been as high a priority for the Raptors, a rookie scale extension for three-and-D wing OG Anunoby before Monday’s deadline looks like a more realistic possibility.

According to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca, Anunoby’s camp is thought to be seeking a deal similar to the one Fred VanVleet just signed (four years, $85MM), while the Raptors will likely counter with an annual salary closer to $15MM per year. Lewenberg wonders if the two sides might ultimately agree to something in the $17-18MM range.

Although the Raptors view Anunoby as a big part of its future, there’s no guarantee that will find common ground in the coming days. If the 23-year-old doesn’t sign a new contract on or before Monday, he’ll become a restricted free agent during the 2021 offseason.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Kyle Lowry is also entering a contract year, but he said today that he hasn’t spoken to the front office about his future beyond this season (Twitter link via Lewenberg).My goal is to stay focused on trying to win a championship for the Raptors,” Lowry said. “I’ll let the other stuff play itself out.” Unlike Anunoby, Lowry isn’t currently eligible to sign an extension.
  • Despite not playing in their home city to start the 2020/21 regular season, the Raptors will be one of a handful of NBA teams hosting fans in their arena. The club issued a press release earlier this week announcing plans to host 3,800 fans for regular season games in Tampa. According to the Raptors, no seats within 30 feet of the court will be available, and a number of other safety measures will be in place, including fans being required to wear masks and practice physical distancing while in the building. Fans will also be screened when they enter the arena and will be prohibited from bringing in bags.
  • DeAndre’ Bembry is making a strong impression on Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, who said that it’s “hard to keep (him) off the floor,” per Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter link). The newly-signed swingman sounds like a good bet to be one of the first players off the bench for the club.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Knicks, Bembry, T. Davis

In his first public comments this week after leaving Boston for Charlotte, veteran forward Gordon Hayward said he holds no “ill will” toward the Celtics, as Nick Friedell of ESPN writes.

Addressing Hayward’s departure during an appearance on Boston radio show Toucher & Rich on Tuesday, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said the team wanted to bring back Hayward, but that the forward preferred the Hornets due to an opportunity to take on more of a featured role — the fact that Charlotte made the largest contract offer probably didn’t hurt either.

Hayward’s exit did allow the Celtics to create a massive $28.5MM traded player exception that can be used during the season or in the 2021 offseason. As Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston relays, Ainge said on Tuesday that he doesn’t expect to utilize that exception right away.

“We could use it to get three players or four players to strengthen our bench at different times,” Ainge said. “We’re not going to go do anything right now, just because it’s that time of year where people love their teams. Everybody has gotten better in the offseason.

“We’ll see how this season goes and see where we are. We’ll have the ability to improve our team at the trade deadline, and improve our team next offseason if not. It just gives us another vehicle to acquire players that we would not have had.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Within a recap of the Knicks‘ offseason moves, Marc Berman of The New York Post suggests that Leon Rose‘s Plan A involved trading for Chris Paul and then signing Carmelo Anthony. When Paul, who reportedly wasn’t interested in joining the Knicks, was instead sent to Phoenix, Rose pivoted and completed a handful of minor signings and trades to fill out the roster.
  • In a separate story for The New York Post, Berman examines how new head coach Tom Thibodeau plans to balance the Knicks‘ player development goals with a desire to be competitive in 2020/21.
  • Raptors head coach Nick Nurse told reporters today that Toronto’s front office has liked DeAndre’ Bembry for a while and was happy to have the chance to sign him this offseason (Twitter link via Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca). Nurse praised Bembry’s toughness, defense, and play-making, referring to him as a “high-IQ guy.”
  • Having guaranteed Terence Davis‘ salary for 2020/21, the Raptors continue to wait for the NBA to complete its investigation into the allegations of domestic violence against the second-year guard, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. “I think sometimes that may feel a bit unsatisfying but I think that we need to be respectful of that process as well,” general manager Bobby Webster said on Tuesday.

Eastern Contract Details: Heat, Rondo, Harris, Clark, Raptors

Although Maurice Harkless‘ one-year, $3.623MM deal is exactly the same amount as the bi-annual exception, the Heat completed the signing using a portion of their mid-level exception, according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Avery Bradley received the remaining portion of the $9.258MM MLE, for a first-year salary of $5.635MM, Smith adds (via Twitter).

The Heat will still be hard-capped as a result of using the full mid-level exception, but they now retain their bi-annual exception to use either this season or next year, if they remain over the cap in 2021/22.

Smith (Twitter link) also passes along the exact details on Meyers Leonard‘s new contract with the Heat, which has a $9.4MM first-year salary and a team option for 2021/22 worth $10.152MM.

Here are a few more specific details on some of the new free agent contracts signed in the last couple days, via Smith unless otherwise indicated:

  • Rajon Rondo‘s two-year, $15MM deal with the Hawks has matching cap hits of $7.5MM this season and next year. It also includes $750K in annual bonuses – tied to games played and playoff appearances – that could increase the annual value to $8.25MM (Twitter link).
  • Joe Harris‘ new four-year contract with the Nets technically has a base value of $72MM, with $500K in annual bonuses tied to games played, playoff games played, and team performance (Twitter link).
  • The Magic used part of their mid-level exception to sign Gary Clark to a contract starting at $2MM. His $2.1MM second-year salary won’t become guaranteed until seven days after the 2021 moratorium (Twitter link).
  • The Raptors‘ deals for Aron Baynes, Chris Boucher, and DeAndre’ Bembry will all be non-guaranteed in year two rather than technically featuring team options, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. That means they’ll have to be waived next summer if Toronto doesn’t want to retain them for two years.

Raptors Sign DeAndre’ Bembry

NOVEMBER 26: The Raptors’ deal with Bembry is now official, according to the NBA’s transactions log.


NOVEMBER 22: The Raptors have reached an agreement with free agent swingman DeAndre’ Bembry, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets.

It’s for the veteran’s minimum and the second year isn’t guaranteed, The Athletic’s Blake Murphy tweets. He’ll receive $1,737,145 next season with $1,977,011 for the non-guaranteed second year.

Bembry became an unrestricted free agent with the Hawks decided to not extend him a qualifying offer. He’ll provide a little more depth on the wing for the Raptors.

Bembry was the No. 21 pick in 2016 and has spent the last four seasons in Atlanta, but didn’t have a notable season in 2019/20, averaging 5.8 PPG and 3.5 RPG on .456/.231/.542 shooting in 43 games (21.3 MPG).

Toronto reached an agreement on Sunday with one of its free agents, Chris Boucher. They’re also signing former Suns center Aron Baynes.

Hawks Notes: Okongwu, Trade Offers, Labissiere, QOs

Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk never got to see Onyeka Okongwu play in person, but he was convinced the USC center was the right choice with the No. 6 pick, according to Chris Kirschner and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. Atlanta’s scouts were promoting Okongwu during the season and urged Schlenk to watch him, but that fell through when the Pac-12 Tournament was canceled.

Okongwu also didn’t work out for the Hawks because of a stress fracture in his sesamoid bone, which is located underneath his big toe. However, Schlenk knows what his new center can provide without seeing him in action.

“He’s going to be a plus rebounder defensively,” the Atlanta GM said. “He’s going to be a rim protector, and the other thing he does is he moves his feet very, very well in pick-and-roll coverages, and as you guys know, that’s extremely important for big guys to be able to guard in pick-and-rolls. Those are his strengths coming in. He’s got great instincts. Improving defensively is important for our group. The foundation of your defense is your big guy. They’re kind of the quarterback of the defense. They’re on the back line. They see everything. … That’s his strength, and that’s a very valuable strength in the NBA.”

There’s more from Atlanta:

  • The Hawks took a long look at Israeli forward Deni Avdija and Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton, according to Kirschner and Vecenie, but decided Okongwu’s potential was too good to pass up. They also listened to trade-down offers from the Knicks, Wizards and a few teams in the teens, but there were no prospects they especially liked in that range.
  • Atlanta now has four centers on its roster, but the front office won’t be in a hurry to unload any of them, Kirschner and Vecenie add. The Hawks traded for Clint Capela and Dewayne Dedmon last season. They also have Bruno Fernando, and John Collins plays in the middle sometimes. The addition of Okongwu means there’s no longer room on the roster for Skal Labissiere, who will not receive a qualifying offer. QOs also won’t be coming for DeAndre’ Bembry, Damian Jones and Charlie Brown Jr.
  • The Hawks aren’t worried that Okongwu’s injury will be a long-term issue, writes Sarah K. Spencer of The Journal-Constitution. Their medical team was able to evaluate his condition during the pre-draft process in October and will check him again soon to see how much he has healed. “The doctors, they weren’t concerned about a long-term injury at all,” Schlenk said. “So hopefully it’s healed from when the MRI was taken probably about four weeks ago, but it’s really hard to say until we get him here and get our doctors to see him. But there was no concern of a long-term injury with it.”

 

Hawks’ Bembry, Labissiere, Jones To Become UFAs

The Hawks have elected not to extend qualifying offers to DeAndre’ Bembry, Skal Labissiere, Damian Jones, or Charlie Brown Jr., according to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic (Twitter link). As a result, all four players will be unrestricted free agents rather than restricted.

The decisions don’t come as a major surprise. Bembry was the No. 21 pick in 2016 and has spent the last four seasons in Atlanta, but didn’t have a great year in 2019/20, averaging 5.8 PPG and 3.5 RPG on .456/.231/.542 shooting in 43 games (21.3 MPG). Labissiere was said to be someone who intrigued Atlanta when he was acquired at the trade deadline, but he was unable to suit up for the Hawks due to health issues.

Jones made 55 appearances for Atlanta in 2019/20 but was unlikely to have a regular role next season with Clint Capela healthy and Onyeka Okongwu joining the Hawks in the draft. Brown, meanwhile, saw limited action in 10 games for the Hawks while on a two-way contract.

While those four players appear unlikely to return to Atlanta, Kirschner says (via Twitter) that the team is expected to guarantee Brandon Goodwin‘s minimum salary for 2020/21. Goodwin would earn a $1.7MM salary before becoming eligible for restricted free agency himself in 2021.

Southeast Notes: Magic, Hawks, Heat, Jones

After initially targeting Tuesday as the date for the potential reopening of their practice facility, the Magic delayed that target date to Wednesday, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic.

While there’s a chance that the team hits that target date and opens its facility today, Orlando is still waiting on coronavirus test results for some of its asymptomatic players and staffers, according to Robbins, who tweets that the Magic are in a “holding pattern” for the time being.

Although their plans remain fluid, the Magic appear likely to allow players to conduct individual workouts at their facility soon, something the Hawks did earlier this week.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has questioned the need to reopen his team’s facility, since his players have their own workout equipment and hoops, and the NBA is limiting players to an hour at a time at practice facilities. But Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk sees value in making his team’s facility available to players, as Chris Kirschner of The Athletic writes.

“You can certainly get a lot out of this,” Schlenk said. “You can get individual skill work, form stuff. For us, the focus this week is to really just get the guys back in the building and be able to get out of the house. It’s more the mental side than the physical side of things that we can get out of this. I’ve told the coaches that this isn’t the week to prove you’re the best individual coach in the league. This week is about getting the guys in here, getting their bodies moving.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

Trade Rumors: Bembry, Ojeleye, Celtics, Bertans

Hawks swingman DeAndre’ Bembry, who is dealing with a hand injury, could be moved before the deadline, per a source. The Timberwolves are among the teams with eyes on the wing, though interest around the league isn’t expected to be strong.

It’s possible that Bembry is included in a potential multi-team D’Angelo Russell trade. Bembry starred at St. Joe’s before being selected with the No. 21 overall pick. Through three-plus seasons on the Hawks, the New Jersey native hasn’t taken flight.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • At least one team has an interest in trading for Celtics forward Semi Ojeleye, provided the price tag isn’t significant at all, a source tells Hoops Rumors. The 25-year-old has played in 47 games for Boston this season.
  • All signs point to a quiet deadline for the Celtics, according to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe. “It feels like it’s kind of dead right now,” one league source told the Boston writer. Himmelsbach also noted that Houston was the party to initiate the Clint Capela talks, adding that it now appears those talks aren’t going anywhere because of the Rockets‘ high asking price.
  • As we passed along last month, the Wizards love Davis Bertans and see him as a long-term piece. Not much has changed, according to Candace Buckner of the Washington Post, the team plans on keeping the 27-year-old power forward and wants to re-sign him this offseason.
  • The Celtics remain interested in Bertans, per Himmelsbach. Chris Mannix of SI.com shared similar intel earlier today, writing that Boston’s interest in Bertans is “strong.”  However, according to Himmelsbach, the C’s appears resigned to the fact that they’re not getting the power forward.