Delon Wright

Southeast Notes: Unseld Jr., Capela, Wright, Hunter, Carter

Following a rough start to his new career as a head coach, the Wizards Wes Unseld Jr. said the team needs to establish a defensive identity in his second season, he told Josh Robbins of The Athletic.

“We said we were going to be a defense-first team. We’re not there yet,” Unseld said. “That’s a big piece of our identity. To value and share the ball, I think, is another big piece. We’re starting to see that. I think it’s good carryover into the summer, and then we’ve got a lot of things we have to accomplish. We’ve got to spend a lot of time with our guys and put a lot of work in.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Center Clint Capela felt soreness in his knee as the Hawks were eliminated by the Heat on Wednesday, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic tweets. Capela, who didn’t return in the fourth quarter, said he won’t require offseason surgery on the aching joint.
  • Veteran guard Delon Wright said he’d like to stay with Hawks but was noncommittal regarding free agency this summer, Kirchner tweets. Forward De’Andre Hunter echoed similar sentiments regarding a potential extension, Kirschner relays in another tweet“I don’t necessarily have a number I’m looking for, but we’ll see,” Hunter said.
  • Can Wendell Carter establish himself as one of the league’s top 10 centers? That could be the next step for the Magic big man, according to Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel.

Central Notes: Bagley, Jones, Wright, Dragic, Bulls

The Pistons are prepared to make a three-year offer to restricted free agent Marvin Bagley III, James Edwards III of The Athletic reports. He fit a need for an athletic big man, which is why they traded for him just before the deadline. However, Bagley may seek a shorter deal and test the open market if his stock rises, so that he can get a bigger payday.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • It has been reported that the Cavaliers would entertain a reunion with free agent guard Ricky Rubio. However, there are other options on the table to provide backcourt depth, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Cavs are also expected to show interest in several other unrestricted free agents, including Tyus Jones, Delon Wright, Raul Neto and Goran Dragic, says Fedor.
  • Which players should the Bulls retain and which ones should they shed? Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic takes a closer look at that topic in a player-by-player breakdown. Mayberry’s position on unrestricted free agent Zach LaVine? He’s one of the keepers.
  • DeMar DeRozan said he’s open to recruiting players to Chicago, but Bulls coach Billy Donovan said no matter what happens in the offseason, expectations need to be tempered, Jon Greenberg of The Athletic writes. “I think you have to be careful, and what I mean by that is, we got off to a really, really good start this year,” he said. “And it was really impressive to me with a new group that hadn’t had a lot of time together that they could jell and mesh the way they did. We’ll actually have to work harder going into this offseason and next year to even get back to this point.”

Southeast Notes: Collins, Wright, Bamba, Thomas

Hawks power forward John Collins has continued to play for Atlanta even as he deals with lingering foot pain and now sports a protective wrap around his finger, per Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Collins recently returned to Atlanta’s active roster following a seven-game absence as he dealt with his strained right foot.

“I’m not going to tell you everything,” Hawks head coach Nate McMillan said regarding the health of Collins. “I just respect him for his effort and he does have some things that are going on that he’s trying to play through.”

Through 54 games for the 32-34 Hawks, the 6’9″ big man is averaging 16.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 1.8 APG and boasts shooting splits of .526/.364/.793. Atlanta is currently the tenth seed in the Eastern Conference, mere percentage points behind the ninth-seeded Hornets, who sport a 32-34 record. An extended absence for the Hawks’ second-leading scorer in Collins could spell trouble for the Hawks’ play-in chances.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks reserve combo guard Delon Wright, an unrestricted free agent this summer, is currently out of Atlanta’s rotation. Hawks head coach Nate McMillan explained his thinking behind Wright’s exclusion from the present lineup, per Chris Kirschner of The Athletic (Twitter link). “He’s been playing well,” McMillan said. “It’s nothing he’s done. He’s been playing well. It’s really difficult to play a 10-man rotation because everyone gets squeezed. What I did was went to Lou [Williams] at that backup [point guard spot] — the rotation we had last year.” The 6’5″ veteran is in his seventh NBA season.
  • Hornets backup point guard Isaiah Thomas discussed his fight for an NBA future with Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Currently on his third NBA club this season, following prior 10-day contracts with the Lakers and Mavericks, Thomas is excited for his opportunity with Charlotte, with whom he recently signed a second 10-day deal. “It’s just a blessing for me to be able to be where I’m at today with how bad my hip was, because I never thought I would be in this space again where I have no pain and I can play free and I can just live free,” Thomas said. “Not just play, like, I don’t have no pain on a daily basis.” Thomas has had multiple surgeries on his troublesome hip, but says he has been pain-free since a 2020 operation. The 5’9″ veteran is averaging 9.7 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.7 APG and 1.0 SPG in just 13.7 MPG over the course of his three games with Charlotte. “I don’t ice my hip, I don’t do any pre-workout for it. I don’t do anything,” he said. “It’s the same as before I got hurt. I know I can do those things again, but I’m not chasing those moments.”
  • Magic center Mohamed Bamba has an interesting summer ahead of him. Orlando will have to tender the former No. 6 pick in the 2018 NBA draft a $10.1MM one-year qualifying offer this summer for him to reach restricted free agency — otherwise he will become an unrestricted free agent. Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link) expects the qualifying offer to be a foregone conclusion. Given Bamba’s uneven play during his first NBA seasons, it seemed possible that he could reach unrestricted free agency, hoping to catch on with a club in a reserve role at a rate below the qualifying offer. However, Bamba is enjoying by far the best statistical season of his NBA career thus far, averaging 10.5 PPG, 8.0 RPG and 1.7 BPG across 57 games for Orlando, including 55 starts.

Pelicans, Blazers In Serious Talks About CJ McCollum

CJ McCollum is now the biggest name that people around the NBA expect to be dealt before this Thursday’s trade deadline, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who confirms that the Pelicans, Knicks, and Hawks remain in the mix for the Trail Blazers guard. Fischer also reported that the Pacers are among the teams believed to have interest in McCollum.

While a handful of new clubs have been identified this week as potential suitors for McCollum, the Pelicans may still be the frontrunners. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), New Orleans and Portland are engaged in “serious” discussions about McCollum, with those talks ongoing today.

Sources tell Bleacher Report that the Blazers, after sending Norman Powell to the Clippers, remain focused on creating more financial flexibility going forward and have expressed little interest in taking back future salary in a potential McCollum deal.

As Fischer explains, Portland wants to sign Anfernee Simons to a long-term deal this offseason and appears increasingly unlikely to trade Jusuf Nurkic, since he and the team have mutual interest in working out a new contract this offseason. If they keep McCollum and sign Simons and Nurkic to lucrative new deals, the Blazers would be at risk of going back into luxury tax territory next season.

A Pelicans offer for McCollum seems likely to include some combination of Josh Hart, Tomas Satoransky, Jaxson Hayes, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, according to Fischer, who notes that New Orleans also still has a surplus of first-round picks available to include as sweeteners, if necessary.

Fischer suggests that a Hawks proposal for McCollum may include Danilo Gallinari and Delon Wright‘s expiring contract. He’s skeptical that the Knicks would be able to make an appealing offer, pointing to Evan Fournier‘s and Julius Randle‘s long-term contracts as pieces Portland wouldn’t want to take back. Theoretically, New York could put together a package of players on shorter-term contracts, such as Alec Burks, Kemba Walker, and Nerlens Noel, but it’s unclear exactly which players the club would be willing to put on the table.

Marc Berman of The New York Post, confirming the Knicks have talked to Portland about McCollum, says New York also had interest in Powell before he was sent to Los Angeles.

COVID-19 Updates: Doncic, SGA, Robinson, Hawks, Nuggets, More

Mavericks star Luka Doncic has cleared the league’s health and safety protocols, sources tell Marc Stein (Twitter link). Doncic, who hasn’t played since December 10, missed a combined 10 games due to a left ankle injury and his time in the protocols. He’s expected to meet his teammates in Oklahoma City and may return to the court on Sunday.

Tim Hardaway Jr. and Maxi Kleber may also be able to exit the protocols in time for Sunday’s game, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Dallas, which has five other players still in protocols, managed to go 5-5 without Doncic and is holding onto eighth place in the Western Conference.

Here are more updates on players entering and exiting the protocols:

Eastern Notes: Raptors, Wright, LeVert, Turner, Bridges

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said on Sunday that two of the replacement players the team had hoped to sign in advance of its game vs. Chicago last Wednesday didn’t pass the COVID-19 screening process, as Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca tweets. The game was ultimately postponed because Toronto didn’t have enough players available.

The Raptors were said to have deals in place with Brandon Goodwin and Nik Stauskas, but those agreements were reported a week ago and were never finalized, so presumably those are the two players Nurse was referring to.

It’s possible Toronto will circle back to Goodwin and/or Stauskas at some point. However, if they contracted COVID-19, they won’t be short-term options for the Raptors, so we’re no longer counting on those deals to be completed and have removed them from our roster counts page.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Hawks guard Delon Wright has entered the health and safety protocols, tweets Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. Atlanta’s roster is in rough shape, with 11 players now in the protocols, but – for now at least – the team still has enough bodies available Monday’s game vs. Chicago, including five replacement players (a sixth, Wesley Iwundu, is in the protocols).
  • Caris LeVert has been playing his best basketball this month since joining the Pacers, averaging 22.1 PPG and 5.3 APG with a .392 3PT% in his last 10 games. Myles Turner, meanwhile, had one of his best games of the season last Thursday, putting up 32 points on 14-of-18 shooting. Besides helping out Indiana with their production, LeVert and Turner – both considered trade candidates – are displaying their value for potential suitors, writes Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star (subscribers only).
  • Philadelphia native and former Villanova star Mikal Bridges, who was traded from the Sixers to the Suns on draft night in 2018, doesn’t think often about what could have been if he had remained with his hometown team, writes Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “Being (in Phoenix) and knowing the city, the people, and what we’ve been doing these past years, I don’t even think twice about ever being home,” Bridges said. “I’m in a great situation now, and I love it.”

Southeast Notes: Bertans, Wright, Dieng, Ball, Heat

The Wizards have plenty of options at the forward spots and that makes it difficult to project what will happen with Davis Bertans, Fred Katz of The Athletic notes. Bertans had a disappointing season after being re-signed on a five-year, $80MM contract. If Bertans drains 3-pointers at a prolific rate, he’ll play regularly. But if he gets off to a slow start, Washington will have a difficult decision to make regarding the highly-paid stretch four.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Summertime acquisitions Delon Wright and Gorgui Dieng project to play on the Hawks’ second unit, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic says in his look at the team’s likely depth chart. De’Andre Hunter is tentatively penciled in as the starting small forward, though his meniscus surgery in June could alter that.
  • LaMelo Ball took an unusual path to the NBA, leaving high school to play professionally in Lithuania and Australia before he was drafted. He has no regrets about that strategy, Scott Gleeson of USA Today relays from a GQ interview with the Hornets point guard. “You want go to the league, so school’s not your priority,” he said. “We not trippin’ off school. … We don’t need school.”
  • The Heat have a reputation for developing unheralded and undrafted players, prompting Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald to take a closer look at their program.

Kings Acquire Tristan Thompson In Three-Way Deal

AUGUST 7: The three-team trade is now official, the Kings, Celtics, and Hawks all announced today in press releases.

The 2023 second-round pick that the Hawks are sending to Boston originally belonged to the Trail Blazers and was shipped to Atlanta by the Clippers in the Lou Williams trade in March, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link).


JULY 30: The Celtics are trading veteran big man Tristan Thompson to the Hawks for guard Kris Dunn, forward Bruno Fernando and a 2023 second-rounder, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

However, Thompson isn’t staying with the Hawks. He’s being forwarded to the Kings, with guard Delon Wright going to Atlanta.

All the players in the three-way deal have expiring contracts. Thompson will make $9.7MM next season, while Dunn will secure just over $5MM and Fernando will collect $1.8MM. Wright will make approximately $8.5MM next season.

The move pushes the Celtics another $3MM below the luxury tax threshold, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Dunn had a player option on his contract and opted in earlier this week, which made the trade viable.

After nine seasons in Cleveland, Thompson played in 54 regular-season games with the Celtics, including 43 starts. He averaged 7.6 PPG and 8.1 RPG.

Dunn’s lone season in Atlanta was a washout due to an ankle injury.  He only appeared in four regular-season games, but does give the Celtics another option for their backcourt rotation with Kemba Walker getting traded this offseason.

Fernando, an early second-round pick in 2019, appeared in 89 regular-season games during his first two years in the league.

Thompson gives the Kings some frontcourt insurance with Richaun Holmes entering free agency.

Wright averaged 10.0 PPG and 3.6 APG in 27 games with Sacramento after being acquired from Detroit at the trade deadline. Wright can play either guard spot and will likely slide into a backup role with Atlanta.

Kings Notes: Walton, King, Sunday’s Game, Reserves

Luke Walton says he’s “very confident” he’ll be retained as the Kings’ head coach, Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee reports.

Monetary factors may work in Walton’s favor, Anderson notes. He’s reportedly owed $11.5MM over the next two seasons and first-year GM Monte McNair has publicly expressed support for Walton, pointing out the progress made by several key players.

Walton is focused on better results for next season.

“We have an offseason plan put in place from when they’re going to be in Sacramento, and what coaches will be working with them, and what we need them focused on,” Walton said. “Clearly, a big thing for all young players is developing in the weight room as well, but it’s good, after you get a taste of what the NBA is all about, to be able to really fine tune some things in the offseason.”

We have more on the Kings:

Pacific Notes: Bagley, Fox, Toscano-Anderson, Jackson

Marvin Bagley III may be on the move after this season, according to James Ham of NBC Sports California (video link). The second overall pick in the 2018 draft is averaging 13.9 PPG and 7.4 RPG but the Kings‘ power forward hasn’t played since mid-March due to a hand injury.

“His name came up at the trade deadline,” Ham said. “It’s very possible he will not be with this team after this summer. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes.”

Bagley is eligible for a rookie scale extension before next season but Ham is skeptical the Kings will pursue a new deal. “I don’t think there’s any way he’s getting his extension,” Ham said.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox will be sidelined up to two weeks after entering the league’s health and safety protocols. That means Tyrese Haliburton will be in the lineup, going against top perimeter defenders, and Delon Wright will see his minutes expand, Jason Jones of The Athletic tweets.
  • The Warriors’ Juan Toscano-Anderson considers himself a “fringe” player until he receives some contractual security, Steve Berman of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. “Until I sign my name on that dotted line with a guaranteed contract, I’m still going to treat myself as a fringe NBA player,” he said. “My back’s always against the wall.” Toscano-Anderson is on a two-way contract with Golden State.
  • Reggie Jackson is enjoying a bounce-back season after re-signing with the Clippers for the veteran’s minimum and he’s having fun again, he told Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times“Just be ready for anything and be appreciative of what’s going on and really just re-fall in love with the game,” he said. Jackson is averaging 10.5 PPG and 3.2 APG and shooting a career-high 44.1% from deep.