Donte DiVincenzo

Central Notes: Matthews, DiVincenzo, Olynyk, Rondo

Veteran Bucks reserve shooting guard Wesley Matthews is making the most of his second stint in Milwaukee, writes Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Madison, Wisconsin native, a Marquette alum, made it clear that he wanted to return to the reigning champs. In 11 contests with the Bucks, the 35-year-old wing is averaging 5.6 PPG on a .511/.419/600 shooting line across 16.6 MPG.

“This is what I wanted, this is where I wanted to be,” Matthews said of his Bucks reunion. “I knew in my heart this is where I wanted to be and I felt that from the team, from the organization top-down and now we’re here and I can’t be more excited and happy for it.”

Matthews joined the Bucks on a non-guaranteed contract last month. The team will have to make a decision on whether to keep him around for the rest of the year by the league’s Friday deadline.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Just three games into his return from ankle surgery during the 2021 postseason, Bucks shooting guard Donte DiVincenzo suffered a mild ankle injury. He has already resumed on-court workouts, and Milwaukee will have a better sense of a timeline for his return to action next week, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic (Twitter link). Playing 16.7 MPG in his three games this season, the 6’4″ wing out of Villanova is averaging 7.3 PPG and 5.7 RPG for the Bucks.
  • Pistons big man Kelly Olynyk, who has been out for Detroit since suffering a Grade 2 MCL sprain two months ago, has begun working out at the team’s practice facility, per Rod Beard of the Detroit News (via Twitter). Beard adds that the Pistons do not yet have a timeline for Olynyk’s return to game action.
  • New Cavaliers point guard Rajon Rondo is hoping to have a bigger role in Cleveland than he did with his most recent club, the Lakers, writes Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. “I’ve always been the underdog my entire career,” Rondo said. “I love the expectations of being ‘done’ or not expected to do things. That’s what I kind of pride myself on, doing the impossible and doing the unthinkable. This group has the talent to do it. I’m looking forward to making some noise.” In 16.1 MPG across 18 games for the Lakers this season, the 35-year-old veteran point guard averaged just 3.1 PPG, 3.7 APG and 2.7 RPG.

Injury Notes: DiVincenzo, Bulls, Wiseman, Nuggets

Donte DiVincenzo‘s string of bad luck continued over the weekend, as the Bucks guard rolled his surgically repaired left ankle during warmups on Saturday and is expected to be sidelined for a little while, according to Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link).

The Bucks haven’t issued a formal update on DiVincenzo’s status or his potential recovery timeline, but Owczarksi says there’s a belief he’ll be out for “a few weeks.”

It’s a frustrating setback for DiVincenzo, who missed the start of the season while recovering from ankle surgery, then contracted COVID-19 when he was about to return last month. He appeared in just three games for the Bucks before sustaining his latest injury.

Here are a few more health-related updates from around the NBA:

  • The Bulls are expected to be without guard Javonte Green and forward Tyler Cook for a little while. As Jamal Collier of ESPN writes, head coach Billy Donovan said on Monday that Green will likely miss two-to-four weeks due to a strained groin. Donovan also stated that Cook has a “pretty significant” ankle sprain and will be out for a couple weeks, tweets K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.
  • The Warriors hope that second-year center James Wiseman, who participated in the team’s shootaround on Monday, can begin contact drills next week, says Ali Thanawalla of NBC Sports Bay Area. Wiseman has exited the health and safety protocols, but continues to work his way back from the knee surgery that ended his rookie season.
  • In a recent interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said the team will give stars Jamal Murray (ACL) and Michael Porter Jr. (back) all the time they need to recover from their respective injuries. Unlike Porter, who is expected to return in 2022/23, Murray has a chance to return to the court this season, though Malone warned that’s not a given. “I’ve told him many times — and I think it’s important for him to hear it from me — (that) there’s absolutely zero pressure for him to come back this year,” Malone said. “At the same time, I tell him, ‘Listen, if it’s in the cards for you to come back and play this year, great. If it’s not in the cards for you to come back and play this year, great.’ He’s gonna come back when he is ready.”

Central Notes: DiVincenzo, Love, Vucevic, Pistons

Donte DiVincenzo missed two early layups in his return to action on Saturday, but that didn’t take away from his joy at being back on the court for the first time since May, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. It has taken seven months for the Bucks guard to work his way back from a torn ligament in his left ankle that he suffered in the first round of the playoffs.

Milwaukee’s first championship in 50 years was more remarkable considering that it was accomplished without DiVincenzo, who became a starter last year in his third NBA season. He had been scheduled to return December 15, but was forced to wait 10 extra days after entering the league’s health and safety protocols.

“I was telling Jrue (Holiday) afterwards, it kind of felt like rookie year,” DiVincenzo said. “I had those little butterflies in my stomach, anxious being on the court, just running around, I was like, ‘I’m back!’ So, it took me a little while. Obviously, it’s going to take a while. I haven’t touched a ball in a little while and just trying to get a rhythm. I’m just happy that I’m back. You can’t do anything unless you have your health on the court, so that’s all I’m thankful for, and I’ll keep building off of that.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Brian Windhorst of ESPN looks at how the Cavaliers have found success by defying the league’s trend toward smaller lineups. In the space of less than a month, Cleveland drafted Evan Mobley, gave a $100MM extension to Jarrett Allen and traded for Lauri Markkanen. The Cavs have also benefited from a happier Kevin Love, who has accepted playing 20 minutes per night in a reserve role. “We’ve got a good thing going and I’m having a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s going to be great watching this young team develop.”
  • Nikola Vucevic has looked like a different player since the Bulls returned from their week-long break due to postponements and he credits advice from coach Billy Donovan, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times“One thing that when I spoke to Billy that has stuck out and helped me is he knew I was frustrated with shooting the ball and he was like obviously as a player you want to shoot the ball well,” Vucevic said, “but his main thing was I shouldn’t let that affect the rest of my game.’’
  • With eight players and three assistant coaches in protocols, the Pistons are enjoying the advantages of having a G League team close to home, observes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. The team has called up Cheick Diallo, Derrick Walton, Cassius Stanley and Deividas Sirvydis, along with Motor City Cruise coach DJ Bakker.

Donte DiVincenzo Cleared To Make Season Debut

Bucks wing Donte DiVincenzo has exited the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols and has been cleared to make his season debut on Christmas Day, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

DiVincenzo suffered a torn ligament in his left ankle during the Bucks’ championship run this spring and underwent surgery in June. The recovery process sidelined him to start the 2021/22 campaign.

Just when it appeared two weeks ago that DiVincenzo was on the verge of getting back on the court, he entered the health and safety protocols, further delaying his return. However, it seems he finally has the green light and will be active when Milwaukee hosts the Celtics this afternoon.

The third-year swingman out of Villanova had his best season as a pro in 2020/21, his first as a full-time starter. DiVincenzo, who will be a restricted free agent in 2022, averaged 10.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.1 APG, and 1.1 SPG across 66 games, with shooting percentages of .420/.379/.718.

With Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bobby Portis out of the protocols too, the Bucks no longer have any players affected by COVID-19, at least for the time being.

COVID-19 Updates: Hawks, Blazers, Celtics, Bucks, Nets

Wesley Iwundu, who just signed a 10-day contract with the Hawks on Thursday, has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Iwundu played 23 minutes in the Hawks’ 98-96 victory over the Sixers Thursday night, scoring two points and grabbing five rebounds. ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets that the Hawks will need to sign another replacement player to replace Iwundu — himself a replacement player.

Hawks big man Onyeka Okongwu, who made his season debut last week, has entered the protocols as well, Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. In three games this season (22.3 MPG), Okongwu is averaging 10.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 2.0 BPG. The Hawks now have nine players in the protocols.

Here are a few more COVID-related updates:

  • Backup point guard Dennis Smith Jr. and two-way rookie Trendon Watford have entered the protocols for the Trail Blazers and the rest of the team will now be re-tested, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). DSJ and Watford are the only players currently in the protocols for the Blazers.
  • The Celtics have four new players entering the protocols: C.J. Miles, Justin Jackson, Aaron Nesmith, and Bruno Fernando, tweets Jared Weiss of The Athletic. However, Al Horford, Juan Hernangomez, Jabari Parker, and Brodric Thomas, who’ve all been in the protocols, are listed as questionable for Saturday’s game against Milwaukee, so they could be exiting the protocols soon. Until those four are cleared, the Celtics will have 12 players in the COVID-19 protocols — the largest outbreak in the NBA.
  • In addition to Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bobby Portis has exited the protocols for the Bucks, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press tweets. Like Horford and the other Celtics, Donte DiVincenzo, who’s also been in the protocols, is listed as questionable to make his season debut Saturday.
  • Meanwhile, Bruce Brown and James Johnson have exited the protocols for the Nets, but seven others, including star Kevin Durant, remain in the protocols for their game Saturday against the Lakers, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).
  • Warriors rookie Moses Moody has entered the protocols, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link). Golden State now has four players in the protocols.

Donte DiVincenzo’s Return Delayed As He Enters COVID-19 Protocols

Bucks shooting guard Donte DiVincenzo, who had been set to make his season debut on Wednesday against the Pacers, will be instead sidelined a while longer, having being placed in the NBA’s health and safety coronavirus protocols, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

DiVincenzo has been sidelined since undergoing ankle surgery in June during Milwaukee’s title run, but had been planning to play in his first game of the 2021/22 NBA season for the Bucks tomorrow.

The 6’4″ guard is the third Bucks player to enter the league’s COVID-19 protocols today, along with All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and reserve wing Wesley Matthews. Despite some early-season adversity caused by several injury absences (including DiVincenzo’s), the Bucks had appeared to right the ship lately, reaching an 18-11 record thus far.

The Bucks added shooting guard Grayson Allen via trade in the offseason to supplement the anticipated early-season absence of DiVincenzo. While Allen received an incentive-laden two-year contract extension worth up to $19.5MM in October, DiVincenzo didn’t reach an agreement on a rookie scale contract extension with the Bucks in time for the regular season deadline and is poised to become a restricted free agent this summer. The longer the team thrives with Allen, the more expendable DiVincenzo could become in the 2022 offseason.

Bucks’ DiVincenzo To Make Season Debut On Wednesday

Donte DiVincenzo will make his season debut on Wednesday, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports.

DiVincenzo was a fixture in the Bucks’ starting lineup last season while averaging 10.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 3.1 APG. He suffered a torn ligament in his left ankle during the third game of Milwaukee’s first-round sweep of Miami and underwent surgery in June.

He’s been rehabbing with the G League’s Wisconsin Herd recently while preparing for his return to action.

The Bucks didn’t sign DiVincenzo to a rookie scale extension before the season, so he’ll be a restricted free agent next summer.

DiVincenzo will provide an immediate boost to the Bucks’ backcourt. Grayson Allen has become Jrue Holiday‘s backcourt partner in DiVincenzo’s absence and is averaging 13.0 PPG. Key reserve George Hill has been sidelined the past week with a knee issue.

The Bucks are finishing up a road swing in New York and Boston before returning home to play Indiana on Wednesday.

Central Notes: Cunningham, DiVincenzo, LeVert, Pacers Trade Options

The 4-19 Pistons, losers of nine straight games, are currently sole owners of the NBA’s worst record. Happily from a big-picture perspective, intriguing rookie guard Cade Cunningham is showing promising early signs of development, details James L. Edwards III of The Athletic.

Cunningham was shelved for Detroit’s entire preseason and the early portion of the 2021/22 regular season with an ankle injury, but has come on in a big way across the Pistons’ last four games. In that time, Cunningham has averaged 22 PPG while shooting 51% from the floor and 50% from deep, along with 7.7 RPG and 3.2 APG. Overall, the 6’6″ point guard is averaging 14.9 PPG, 6.6 RPG and 4.6 APG across the 18 games he has played this season.

“I feel like my voice is heard in the locker room,” Cunningham said of where he stands on the Pistons roster. “That hasn’t been a problem for me. We have a good group of guys.”

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Injured Bucks starting shooting guard Donte DiVincenzo will continue to rehabilitate with Milwaukee’s G League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic. DiVincenzo will practice with the Herd ahead of an anticipated return to the floor for the Bucks. The 24-year-old tore an ankle ligament during the first series of the Bucks’ 2020/21 title run. Last year, the Villanova alum averaged 10.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 3.1 across 66 regular season games for Milwaukee.
  • After it was floated earlier today that the Pacers would be open to offloading players following an underwhelming 10-16 season start under the stewardship of new head coach Rick CarlisleEvan Sidery of Basketball News has cooked up some intriguing potential trade destinations for swingman Caris LeVert. Clubs like the Cavaliers, Grizzlies, Jazz Mavericks and Pelicans are all considered fits by Sidery. Sidery notes that LeVert has become movable thanks in part due to the emergence of rookie wing Chris Duarte.
  • As the Pacers look to shake up their roster, Clark Wade of The Indianapolis Star wonders which Indiana players the club should trade. The markets for big men Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner, plus lead guard Malcolm Brogdon, all good players on agreeable contracts, should be robust, though Brogdon won’t be trade-eligible until the offseason.

Central Notes: LaVine, DeRozan, Lonzo, Rubio, DiVincenzo

The 16-8 Bulls are off to a terrific start to the season, led by strong play from stars Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic writes that they looked like the best tandem in the league in road wins over the two New York teams on Nov. 2 and 4. DeRozan says the two players are relentless in their pursuit of success.

A commitment that we talked about long before we even played on the court was just having each other’s back, being there for one another,” DeRozan said. “That’s all I needed to hear. That’s all he needed to hear from me. As long as we could walk, we’re going to be out there and try to lead this team to be as successful as we can.”

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Within the same column, Mayberry notes that sign-and-trade acquisition Lonzo Ball has been inconsistent from game-to-game shooting from deep, but he doesn’t appear to lack confidence, which is key. Mayberry says the Bulls need the threat of Lonzo’s shooting in order to space the floor for DeRozan and LaVine. Overall, Ball is shooting a career-high 42.3% from three on 7.0 attempts per game.
  • Ricky Rubio was initially displeased when he found out he was traded to the Cavaliers last summer, but he’s played a key role in the team’s surprising start and is happy with how things have worked out, according to Joe Vardon and Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. “In the past, I would get traded and get frustrated, like, ‘Oh I have to start over again in my role,'” Rubio said. “And I was frustrated because of my ego. But when you set your ego aside and you just make the best of the role that you have and take advantage of that, there’s no better thing to do on a team than everybody accepting what they have to do.”
  • Fourth-year guard Donte DiVincenzo is nearing a return for the Bucks, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). DiVincenzo has been assigned to the Wisconsin Herd, Milwaukee’s G League affiliate, and Charania says DiVincenzo could make his season debut in December. He’s been recovering from left ankle surgery. DiVincenzo will be a restricted free agent this summer if the Bucks tender him a qualifying offer.

Details On Starter Criteria For 2022 RFAs

The NBA’s rookie scale, which determines the salaries first-round picks earn during their first four seasons, also dictates how much the qualifying offers will be worth for those players when they reach restricted free agency after year four. However, the value of those qualifying offers can fluctuate depending on whether or not a player has met the “starter criteria.”

Here’s how the starter criteria works in a typical year:

  1. A player who is eligible for restricted free agency is considered to have met the starter criteria if he plays at least 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency.
  2. A player can also meet the criteria if he averages either of those marks in the two seasons prior to his restricted free agency. For instance, if a player started 50 games one year and 32 the next, he’d meet the starter criteria, since his average number of starts over the last two seasons is 41.

The first method of meeting the starter criteria will remain unchanged this season, but that second method will look a little different due to the truncated nature of the 2020/21 season.

For starter criteria purposes, the number of starts and minutes a player logged last season will be prorated upward by 82/72 to account for the 72-game schedule, Hoops Rumors has learned.

For example, Suns center Deandre Ayton started 69 games last season. Typically, Ayton would require 13 more starts this season to meet the starter criteria, since 82 total starts would get him to the required average of 41 over the last two seasons.

However, Ayton’s 69 starts last season came in just 72 regular season games. Prorated across a typical 82-game schedule, he would’ve made 78 starts. That means he’ll only need four starts this season to meet the starter criteria. In other words, he should get there next Wednesday, barring an injury.

Hornets forward Miles Bridges, meanwhile, only started 19 games last season, but he played 1,932 total minutes in Charlotte’s 72 games. That works out to 2,200 minutes when prorated across an 82-game schedule, meaning he’d require just 1,800 more this season in order to meet the starter criteria. Since he’s part of the Hornets’ starting five now, Bridges could also meet the criteria by simply getting to 41 starts in 2021/22.

A player’s ability or inability to meet the starter criteria can affect the value of the qualifying offer he receives as a restricted free agent, as follows:

  • A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 15th overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A player picked between 10th and 30th who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the ninth overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 21st overall pick would receive if he signed for 100% of the rookie scale.
  • For all other RFAs, the standard criteria determine the amounts of their qualifying offers.

In most cases, a qualifying offer is a mere placeholder that allows a team to retain its right of first refusal on a restricted free agent — very few players actually accept the one-year offer. Still, a player who fails to meet the starter criteria could have his free agency reshaped by an adjusted qualifying offer.

For instance, Kings big man Marvin Bagley III would be in line for a qualifying offer worth $14,762,309 if he meets the starter criteria or just $7,228,448 if he doesn’t.

Bagley would need to start 35 games this season in order to meet the starter criteria, which might be a long shot, given that he’s out of the rotation for now. Still, a $7.2MM qualifying offer could be more palatable to the Kings – or whichever team has him on its roster by the end of the 2021/22 season – than a $14.8MM one would be. Somewhat paradoxically, Bagley may have a better chance of actually receiving his QO if he starts fewer games this season.

Collin Sexton (Cavaliers), Lonnie Walker (Spurs), Donte DiVincenzo (Bucks), and Josh Okogie (Timberwolves) are some of the other top candidates to meet the starter criteria this season. We’ll be keeping an eye on them and the rest of 2022’s RFAs-to-be over the next several months.