Devontae Cacok

COVID-19 Updates: Wizards, Budenholzer, Celtics, Nance, Duarte, More

The Wizards are on the verge of replenishing their point guard depth, with Spencer Dinwiddie and Aaron Holiday now out of the NBA’s health and safety protocols, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link). Both players will remain sidelined for at least one more game, however, as they work on their conditioning.

Here are more protocol-related updates from around the league:

  • Mike Budenholzer has become the latest head coach to enter the health and safety protocols, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Darvin Ham will serve as the Bucks‘ acting head coach in Budenholzer’s absence.
  • Aaron Nesmith has exited the health and safety protocols, but another Celtics player – Payton Pritchard – has entered them, tweets Jared Weiss of The Athletic.
  • Trail Blazers big man Larry Nance Jr. entered the COVID-19 protocols on Tuesday, but it’s possible he’ll be able to clear them quickly. According to Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian (Twitter links), head coach Chauncey Billups said Nance registered an inconclusive test, so if he can return two consecutive negatives at least 24 hours apart, he’ll exit the protocols.
  • Pacers rookie Chris Duarte has cleared the protocols, though he’s doubtful to play in Wednesday’s game vs. Brooklyn, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files.
  • Cory Joseph, who was the last Pistons player in the protocols, has exited them, according to Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). Joseph remains unavailable for Wednesday’s game in Charlotte due to return to competition reconditioning.
  • Rookies Marko Simonovic (Bulls) and Brandon Boston Jr. (Clippers) were at their respective teams’ practices today and are no longer in the protocols (Twitter links via K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago and Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times).
  • Other players who have cleared the protocols include Spurs forward Devontae Cacok and Mavericks rookie JaQuori McLaughlin. Cacok is out vs. Boston on Wednesday due to return to competition reconditioning (Twitter link via Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News), while McLaughlin is no longer on Dallas’ injury report.

COVID-19 Updates: Mavs, B. Boston, Cacok, Lakers, C. Thomas

The Mavericks have placed center Boban Marjanovic and guard Brandon Knight – who signed a hardship deal last week – in the health and safety protocols, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Marjanovic and Knight are the sixth and seventh Dallas players currently in the protocols.

As we noted earlier today, the Mavericks reportedly reached an agreement to sign Isaiah Thomas, who will be the team’s seventh replacement player. If Dallas had just five players in the protocols, the team wouldn’t be able to make another hardship signing, so the fact that Marjanovic and Knight are now in the protocols helps explain the Thomas deal.

Here are a few more COVID-related updates from around the league:

  • Clippers rookie Brandon Boston Jr. has entered the health and safety protocols, the team announced today. Boston had been playing an increased role as of late with the Clippers shorthanded, averaging 19.6 MPG in 13 games this month.
  • Spurs two-way big man Devontae Cacok has joined teammate Dejounte Murray in the COVID-19 protocols, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). They’re the only two San Antonio players affected for now.
  • Lakers guards Austin Reaves and Kent Bazemore have cleared the protocols, tweets Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group. They won’t be with the team in Memphis tonight, but should be available by Friday’s home game vs. Portland.
  • Nets rookie guard Cam Thomas has exited the protocols and is available, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

Spurs Notes: Bates-Diop, Murray, Hammon, G League

Keita Bates-Diop was an unlikely candidate to become the first Spurs player with a 30-point game this season, but the little-used forward reached that number in Thursday’s win over the Lakers, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Bates-Diop had 88 total points in his first 23 games, but he exploded in L.A., hitting all 11 of his shots from the field in the best night of his career.

“That’s why he’s in the NBA,” teammate Lonnie Walker said. “You’ve got to put respect on almost any player that’s out there. We’re all here for a reason.”

Bates-Diop was named Big Ten Player of the Year at Ohio State in 2018, but he has found only limited success in the NBA. Taken by the Timberwolves with the 48th pick in that year’s draft, he spent a season and a half in Minnesota before being traded to Denver. He signed a two-way contract with the Spurs last season and earned a standard deal this year.

“He’s a conscientious guy,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s a great teammate. He’s becoming more and more conscientious all the time — and also a bit more confident, like he feels like he has a place.”

There’s more from San Antonio:

  • It took a lot of years and a lot of help for Dejounte Murray to develop into a top-level point guard, McDonald notes in a separate story. Drafted in 2016, Murray got to learn from Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard early in his career, but also had to overcome a torn ACL that wiped out his entire third season. “He had very little experience coming into the league and basically missed one whole season where he wasn’t able to develop,” Popovich said. “So at this point to see him playing the way he is, the confidence arena, where he’s got habits that are formed now — he understands the position. He understands the role and responsibility every night.”
  • Two WNBA teams have expressed interest in hiring Spurs assistant Becky Hammon as their head coach, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The New York Liberty and Las Vegas Aces have both reached out and there is mutual interest, according to Charania. Hammon has been rumored for years as a potential replacement for Popovich whenever he retires.
  • With the G League delaying the start of its regular season, Joshua Primo, Joe Wieskamp and Devontae Cacok may join the Spurs for Sunday’s game against Detroit, Orsborn tweets.

Spurs Claim Cacok, Hand Him Two-Way Deal

The Spurs have claimed former Lakers and Nets forward Devontae Cacok off waivers and converted his deal to a two-way contract, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Brooklyn placed Cacok on waivers over the weekend after choosing to sign David Duke Jr. to a two-way contract. Cacok was signed to a training camp deal last month.

Claims are relatively rare in the NBA, so the Spurs apparently believe Cacok, 25, could contribute this season. Swingman Joe Wieskamp has the Spurs’ other two-way deal.

Cacok, who went undrafted out of UNC Wilmington in 2019, spent his first two professional seasons on a two-way contract with the Lakers. He played sparingly as a rookie, but appeared in 20 regular season games in 2020/21, though his playing time was limited. He averaged 2.0 PPG and 1.6 RPG in 4.9 minutes per contest.

He excelled in the G League in 2019/20, putting up 19.3 PPG and 11.9 RPG with a .660 FG% in 33 games for the South Bay Lakers.

Brooklyn’s G League team, the Long Island Nets, acquired his rights on Friday. The Spurs’ two-way contract will override those returning rights. However, Long Island would still have his returning rights if he’s waived and signs a G League contract.

Nets Notes: Griffin, Aldridge, Two-Way Slot, Harden, Irving, Thomas

The Nets are likely to move away from their approach of spreading the court and could field one of the tallest rotations in the league, writes Kristian Winfield of The New York Daily News. That decision was forced partially by the uncertainty surrounding Kyrie Irving, but Brooklyn focused heavily on the frontcourt in its offseason moves, re-signing Blake Griffin and adding veteran big men LaMarcus Aldridge and Paul Millsap.

Griffin played alongside center Nicolas Claxton with the first unit in Saturday’s practice, Winfield notes, but he frequently started at center after joining the team last season and can be effective at either position. Millsap and Aldridge have spent most of their careers as power forwards, but they will also see time in the middle.

“It’s not a traditional big lineup. Blake can switch a lot. I can switch at times. (Kevin Durant) can do it all,” Aldridge said. “I think it’s a big lineup, but it’s not traditional. You’re going to need that. I think teams can play big and play small, and I think having the ability to do both is nice for us.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • The Nets’ decision to give David Duke Jr. their final two-way spot and waive Devontae Cacok was based on their philosophy related to two-way deals, Winfield adds. “I think it’s more development at this point,” coach Steve Nash said. “I think when you look at a team like this, it’s hard for those guys fighting for two-way spots to be guys that are playing in the rotation. So it’s not impossible, but it’s more of a development spot, someone that we can groom and help grow into a piece of this organization’s future.”
  • The Nets were determined to trade for James Harden last season because they already had doubts about whether they could trust Irving, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on his podcast (hat tip to RealGM). Woj added that Brooklyn and Philadelphia haven’t discussed a trade involving Irving and Ben Simmons, and he doesn’t believe the Sixers would have any interest in such a deal. He also said the Nets are preparing to play the entire season without Irving.
  • Cameron Thomas put together a strong preseason after being named co-MVP of the Summer League, but he’s still not likely to have a spot in the Nets’ rotation, according to Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Brooklyn has an experienced backcourt after the offseason additions of Patty Mills and Jevon Carter, and there may not be many minutes available for the rookie guard. “I think there’s some ground for him to make up, but we love him as a player and think he’s got a bright future, but it might take some time,” Nash said. “He’s joined a pretty tough team to crack into.”

Nets Convert David Duke Jr. To Two-Way Deal, Waive Devontae Cacok

4:10pm: The Nets have officially announced that they’ve converted Duke’s contract to a two-way deal and waived Cacok, issuing a pair of press releases to confirm the moves. The team’s roster is now set for the regular season.


2:40pm: The Nets will sign David Duke Jr. to a two-way contract, rewarding him for his impressive play during training camp, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The signing means that 25-year-old Devontae Cacok will likely be waived, as the two players were competing for a spot in training camp. Cacok’s G League rights were acquired by Long Island on Friday, signaling that he may end up as a returning-rights player for the Nets’ NBAGL affiliate after he’s cut.

In addition, the move signals that neither of Brooklyn’s two unsigned draft picks, Marcus Zegarowski and RaiQuan Gray, will be receiving a two-way deal, with Duke and second-rounder Kessler Edwards occupying those spots. Zegarowski and Gray, who were drafted 49th and 59th overall, respectively, could end up signing G League contracts and reporting to Long Island while Brooklyn retains their NBA rights.

Duke, 22, went undrafted in July and signed an Exhibit 10 deal with Brooklyn in August. He averaged 16.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game at Providence in 2020/21.

Atlantic Notes: Irving, Duke, Cacok, Brown, Raptors

Kyrie Irving has not yet been vaccinated for COVID-19, Yaron Weitzman of FOX Sports reports. Under current New York City restrictions, players are prohibited from practicing or playing in their home arena “without providing proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination unless they have an approved medical or religious exemption.” Thus, the Nets star point guard could technically miss all 41 of his team’s home games unless he receives one of these approved exemptions. GM Sean Marks said this week that he doesn’t expect vaccine-related issues to prevent any of his players from suiting up during the regular season.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Undrafted rookie David Duke Jr. and third-year forward Devontae Cacok are among the players who will be competing for the Nets’ remaining two-way contract, according to Tom Dowd of the team’s website. “Regarding the two-way, I think it’s nice to go in and have healthy competition,” GM Sean Marks said. “That’s the way we’re going to look at that. There’s going to be nothing set in stone. There’s nobody with a leg up, per se.”
  • Celtics forward Jaylen Brown admits he’s still dealing with soreness in his wrist, he told Marc Spears of The Undefeated. Brown is recovering from a torn ligament in his left wrist, which required surgery in May and sidelined him for the postseason. “My wrist has been healing. Some days it’s better than others,” he said. “I got to continue to push and work, but I’m excited to be there for camp.”
  • The Raptors must find ways to maximize a “formless” style of basketball due to the configuration of the roster, Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes. Lacking an efficient, high-usage star, they must rely on versatility, flexibility and unpredictability to keep defenses off-balance about where the ball is designed to go.

Nets Notes: Extension Talks, Vaccinations, Two-Way Slot, Aldridge

With a week left until training camp commences for the Nets, general manager Sean Marks expressed optimism during a press conference today that the club will be able to come to terms on contract extensions for All-Star guards James Harden and Kyrie Irving, writes Peter Botte of the New York Post.

“Regarding the extension conversations, we’ve had very positive conversations with both those guys and whether it’s family members, (their) people, and so forth, I think it always helps to do these things in person,” Marks said.  “We’re looking forward to sitting down with them over the course of the next week, two weeks, and furthering those discussions.”

As Botte writes, Irving is eligible to sign a contract that tacks on an additional four years and $181.6MM to his current agreement. Harden, the better player, can agree to terms on an extension that would pay him $161.1MM over three additional years. All-Star forward Kevin Durant signed a four-year, $197.7MM extension that will keep him on the Nets through the 2025/26 season.

There’s more out of Brooklyn:

  • The Nets still need to get a few of their players fully vaccinated for COVID-19 so that they are permitted to practice and play in New York City under the terms of the city’s new vaccine mandate, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “I won’t get into who it is, but we feel confident in the following several days before camp everybody would be allowed to participate and so forth,” Marks said about the situation. The Nets’ GM expects everyone to be vaccinated before the 2021/22 regular season begins. Per the new vaccine executive order, individuals over the age of 12 without at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will not be permitted inside certain indoor locations, including the Nets’ and Knicks’ home arenas.
  • Marks said today that the Nets will have a “healthy competition” for the team’s current available two-way contract during training camp, per Adam Zagoria of Forbes (Twitter link). Big man Devontae Cacok and guard David Duke seem destined to be in the mix for the opening. Brooklyn still has an open spot on its 20-man roster, so the club may yet invite another candidate to compete for the second two-way slot before camp begins.
  • During a press conference today, Marks admitted he was initially wary about bringing back center LaMarcus Aldridge, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). Aldridge was compelled to retire just five games after joining the Nets during the 2020/21 due to an irregular heart beat issue. “I tried to talk him out of it,” Marks said. “I said, ‘You don’t need this. Why would you come back?’ I think it was important to see his conviction, and it’s not a conviction made without really doing due diligence.” According to Brian Lewis of the New York Post (via Twitter), Marks revealed that Aldridge reached out to the Nets as soon as he was medically cleared to return to the hardwood.

Nets Sign Devontae Cacok

SEPTEMBER 20: The Nets have officially signed Cacok, the team confirmed today in a press release.


SEPTEMBER 17: The Nets are signing free agent forward Devontae Cacok to their 20-man preseason roster, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to Charania, Cacok will attend training camp with the team and compete for a two-way contract.

Cacok, who went undrafted out of UNC Wilmington in 2019, spent his first two professional seasons on a two-way contract with the Lakers. He barely played at the NBA level as a rookie, but appeared in 20 regular season games in 2020/21, albeit primarily in garbage time. The 24-year-old averaged 2.0 PPG and 1.6 RPG in 4.9 minutes per contest.

While his NBA impact has been limited, Cacok excelled in the G League in 2019/20, putting up 19.3 PPG and 11.9 RPG with a .660 FG% in 33 games for the South Bay Lakers. He recorded a double-double and earned a spot on the All-NBAGL First Team while averaging just 23.9 minutes per game and coming off the bench in all but two contests.

The Nets have two open spots on their 20-man roster, so Cacok will fill one of them. Kessler Edwards holds one of Brooklyn’s two-way contract slots, but the other is up for grabs. Camp invitee David Duke figures to be in the mix for that opening, along with Cacok and perhaps one or both of the Nets’ unsigned second-round picks (Marcus Zegarowski and RaiQuan Gray).

Like Duke, Cacok is likely receiving an Exhibit 10 contract, which can be converted into a two-way deal before the start of the regular season without having to pass the player through waivers.

L.A. Notes: Horton-Tucker, LeBron, AD, COVID-19, Mann

With his second consecutive impressive preseason performance on Sunday, second-year Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker is making a strong case to be part of the team’s regular season rotation, as ESPN’s Dave McMenamin writes.

“It’s going to make my job difficult for sure,” head coach Frank Vogel said when asked about finding a role for Horton-Tucker, who poured in 33 points in Sunday’s win to go along with 10 rebounds, four assists, and four steals.

“We have a very deep team. No minutes are guaranteed,” Vogel added. “He’s going to keep playing at a high level, and that should push everybody else to stay playing at a high level. It does give us that luxury of having him carry the load some for some of our guys who played deep in the championship run last year and had a short offseason.”

Even if the Lakers stay relatively healthy this season, the club should prioritize finding regular minutes for Horton-Tucker, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who says the franchise will need to develop young talent if it wants to remain a title contender for years to come

Here’s more on the NBA’s two Los Angeles-based teams:

  • Lakers superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis didn’t play at all during the team’s first two preseason contests, but they’ll both be “ready to go” when the regular season gets underway next week, according to Vogel (link via Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times).
  • Both the Lakers and Clippers were missing players on Sunday due to “excused absences” believed to be related to the NBA’s coronavirus protocols, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Those absences may be related to inconclusive tests or contact tracing, so they don’t necessarily mean the individual tested positive for COVID-19, according to Greif, who notes that the Lakers were without Kostas Antetokounmpo and Devontae Cacok, while the Clippers were missing Reggie Jackson and assistant coach Chauncey Billups.
  • Although Terance Mann has seen some time at shooting guard and small forward, the Clippers view the 24-year-old as a point guard and expect him to be a key contributor off the bench, as Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register writes.