Duane Washington

Central Notes: LaVine, DeRozan, Holiday, Hill, Bucks, Pacers

Should the Bulls be worried about Zach LaVine going to another team as an unrestricted free agent this summer? Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic explores that topic, noting that while Chicago can offer LaVine more years and money (five years, $212MM) than other teams (four years, $157MM), the two-time All-Star was noncommittal at his end-of-season media session.

I’ve been here for the last five years, and I’ve really enjoyed my time,” LaVine said. “I think the city – and I hope everybody – understands how much I care about the Bulls and what I’ve done for the city and things like that.

Obviously, you guys have been a really soft spot in my heart, and I have to do this as a business decision as a man, not to just be viewed one way, and be, like, ‘I’m automatically coming back’ or ‘I’m automatically leaving.’ It’s unrestricted free agency. For my family and me, I have to go into this like it’s a decision where I have to be open-eyed.”

Here’s more from the Central:

  • In a question and answer session with Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, Bulls star DeMar DeRozan said he thinks Bucks guard Jrue Holiday is the most underrated player in the NBA at the moment. “Wow, that’s a great one … most underrated … most underrated from my opinion and one of my favorite players to watch I would say is Jrue Holiday, yeah, Jrue Holiday,” DeRozan said.
  • Bucks veteran guard George Hill is listed as probable for Saturday’s Game 3 against the Celtics, tweets Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Hill has been dealing with an abdominal strain and has yet to play this postseason, but he was able to practice on Thursday and could see some action today.
  • Jamal Collier of ESPN lists four keys to the Bucks repeating as NBA champions this season. One key is making up for the production of injured star Khris Middleton, who’s sidelined with a sprained MCL. “Khris clearly is a huge part of what we do, but we have a lot of talented guys on our team,” Brook Lopez said. “We’re going to see a lot of different guys, I think, stepping up on different nights.”
  • Keifer Sykes recently spoke to James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star about his rookie season with the Pacers. Sykes was waived by the team just before the season ended. “I did everything that I could do,” Sykes said. “Even when I look up and think about the day I got cut, the night before, after that (last home) game, I was in the gym until like 12 or 1 a.m., so I squeezed everything I got out of the Pacers thing. That’s not gonna stop me from having camps back home and finishing it with this one. I’m very much at peace with the situation. … A lot of players don’t have peace in free agency.”
  • Sykes was waived to accommodate standard deals for undrafted Pacers rookies Terry Taylor and Duane Washington, who were both promoted from two-way contracts. Taylor said it was a dream come true, as Boyd relays in another story. “My agent called me and was like, ‘Yo, we’re gonna get this done Thursday (April 7),’ so he was telling me congrats,” Taylor said. “After we hung up the phone, I just prayed because it finally happened. My dream came true.”

Pacers Notes: Taylor, Washington, York, Hinton, Cavs’ Pick

Pacers rookie Terry Taylor got a total of $1.225MM in guaranteed money in his new three-year contract with the Pacers, reports ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter). Having been promoted from a two-way deal, Taylor got a $600K rest-of-season salary, with a $625K partial guarantee for 2022/23.

Duane Washington, who was also promoted to the standard roster from his two-way contract, received $950K in rest-of-season money, but won’t have any of his salary for ’22/23 guaranteed, Marks notes.

The Pacers used their mid-level exception to sign both Taylor and Washington, which permitted the team to give them three-year contracts and salaries above the minimum in 2021/22. Their second and third seasons will be worth the minimum.

Washington will have his minimum salary for ’22/23 guaranteed if he remains under contract through July 6, while Taylor will need to remain on his deal through July 10 to earn a full guarantee for next season.

Here’s more out of Indiana:

  • Gabe York, a 28-year-old rookie who signed a two-way contract with the Pacers on Thursday, is thrilled to finally get the opportunity to make his NBA debut this weekend, writes James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. “It’s been seven years, long time since I’ve been trying for this dream to kind of happen,” York said. “Five years overseas, played one stint in the G League with the Lakeland Magic. Seven years of just blood, sweat and tears finally getting this opportunity, so I’m definitely excited and ready for this moment for sure.”
  • York added that his mother was “crying all on the phone” when he told her about his deal with Indiana and said he’d “try not to cry” himself when he makes his NBA debut. “Got the NBA contract for a little bit,” he said. “Now next season is to try to stay in the NBA for a full season and get my mom to stop working.”
  • Nate Hinton, the other player who signed a two-way deal with Indiana on Thursday, has entered the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, as Boyd relays (via Twitter).
  • The Pacers are far removed from the playoff picture, but they’ll have a rooting interest in the play-in tournament next week, Boyd observes in a separate article for The Star. If the Cavaliers earn a playoff berth, Indiana will get Cleveland’s 2022 first-round pick. If the Cavs are eliminated in the play-in, they’ll keep that pick and would instead owe the Pacers their 2023 first-rounder (also lottery-protected).

Gabe York, Nate Hinton Sign Two-Way Deals With Pacers

The Pacers have signed G League guards Gabe York and Nate Hinton to two-way contracts, the team announced in a press release.

Indiana also confirmed that Duane Washington and Terry Taylor, who had both been on two-way deals, have received standard contracts that will cover multiple years. The team officially waived Keifer Sykes to make room on the 15-man roster for both players.

York averaged 21.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 34 games with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. The 28-year-old played three seasons in the G League and spent time overseas as well after going undrafted out of Arizona in 2016. His only previous NBA experience came in attending training camp with the Magic in 2018 on an Exhibit 10 contract.

Hinton, 22, averaged 18.1 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists for Fort Wayne in his second G League season. He signed a 10-day contract with the Pacers on December 30 and played two total minutes in two games. Undrafted out of Houston in 2020, he appeared in 21 games with the Mavericks last season.

Pacers To Sign Duane Washington, Terry Taylor To Multiyear Contracts

The Pacers will promote both of their two-way players, Duane Washington and Terry Taylor, to the standard 15-man roster and sign them to new multiyear contracts, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Indiana has a full 15-man roster and will need to make room for Washington and Terry. Justin Anderson‘s 10-day deal expires tonight, so he’ll likely be one casualty of the roster crunch. The other will be guard Keifer Sykes, who is being waived, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Washington, 22, signed a two-way contract with the Pacers last August after going undrafted out of Ohio State. He has averaged 9.6 PPG, 1.8 RPG, and 1.8 APG in 46 NBA appearances (20.1 MPG), with a shooting line of .394/.366/.763.

Taylor initially signed an Exhibit 10 deal to join Indiana for training camp, then was waived in October before rejoining the team in December on a two-way contract. He has since made a strong impression on the franchise by putting up 9.6 PPG and 5.2 RPG with a .629 FG% in 31 games (21.3 MPG).

Obviously, the lottery-bound Pacers don’t need to worry about either Washington or Taylor being playoff-eligible, so their promotions are more about locking them up to team-friendly contracts rather than having them become free agents this offseason. The terms of the new deals are unclear, but they’re unlikely to be fully guaranteed or worth more than the minimum beyond this season.

Sykes, also a first-year player, was another Pacers camp invitee who was released in October before rejoining the team in December. The 28-year-old averaged 5.6 PPG and 1.9 APG on .363/.300/.882 shooting in 32 games (17.7 MPG). Sykes had been on a two-year contract, but his salary for 2022/23 wasn’t guaranteed, so Indiana won’t be on the hook for any money beyond this season.

After officially promoting Washington and Taylor, the Pacers will have a pair of open two-way slots that they could fill before the regular season ends on Sunday if they so choose.

Central Notes: Washington Jr., Caruso, Blaha, Pistons

Pacers two-way rookie Duane Washington Jr. received high praise from coach Rick Carlisle after scoring 19 points on Saturday, James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star writes. Washington helped Indiana defeat San Antonio 119-108, shooting 7-of-9 from the floor in 21 minutes of action off the bench.

“I had somebody at the table to sub for him,” Carlisle said of Washington. “He hit a 3, and the play kept going, and he hit another 3, and I sent Chris (Duarte) back (to the bench), and then he hit a third 3.

“Wash is an aggressive player that’s fearless and unselfish. He gives himself a chance to get going every night, and generally he does it in a way that’s within the team concept and is in the rhythm of the game.”

Washington signed with the Pacers after going undrafted last August. He’s averaging 9.1 points per game this season, shooting 39% from the floor and 37% from three-point range.

Here are some other notes from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls were sparked by Alex Caruso‘s return from a fractured right wrist on Saturday, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Caruso finished with 11 points, four assists and four steals off the bench, helping his team defeat Cleveland 101-91 at home. “He had a major impact, just having another competitor out there,’’ teammate Ayo Dosunmu said of Caruso. “He makes [defense] easier for a lot of us. He’s a veteran; he’s won; he’s played in those high-level games. You have that, and it boosts the entire team morale.’’
  • Pistons legendary play-by-play commentator George Blaha will miss the rest of the season due to a heart bypass procedure that’ll take place on Tuesday, the team announced in a press release. Blaha is expected to make a full recovery. He has called more than 3,400 Pistons games since 1976.
  • Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press examines why winning should matter more than the lottery for the Pistons. Detroit, tied with Orlando for the second-worst record in the league at 18-50, is 5-5 in its last 10 games.

Central Notes: Cavaliers, Bucks, Pistons, Washington Jr.

Cavaliers forward Lauri Markkanen suffered a sprained ankle on Saturday and multiple sources told Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com that “The Finnisher” is expected to miss at least a couple of weeks. Markkanen left the arena on crutches and in a walking boot following Cleveland’s 95-93 win over New York on Monday.

In Markkanen’s absence, Dean Wade returned to the starting lineup. Although Wade has only seen sporadic action this season, appearing in 33 out of 48 games, coach J.B. Bickerstaff has entrusted the 25-year-old big man to be an injury-replacement starter. Wade has started 17 games, with the Cavs holding a respectable 9-8 record in those contests, Fedor writes.

We’re confident we’ve got guys who can fill that spot,” Bickerstaff said. “We will play some more traditional lineups because of who’s available, but the style that we play and the system that we play shouldn’t change much. We’re comfortable with Dean Wade in that position.

He takes care of business every single day. We have a trust in him that we know when his number’s called, he’s going to be ready to go. That’s not easy to do. You see guys who are in and out of the lineup, they have a hard time. He understands where his opportunities are gonna come and the job that he has to do, and what he needs to do to go out and handle that. Obviously, he made big shots for us down the stretch.”
Here’s more from the Central Division:
  • Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton, who’s out for the season following meniscus surgery in his left knee, is making solid progress in his recovery and hasn’t ruled out returning to the court if Cleveland makes the postseason, according to Fedor in a separate article for Cleveland.com. Sources within the team don’t expect Sexton to be back for a potential playoff run, but they also know not to count him out, as the fourth-year guard is known for having an outstanding work ethic.
  • Eric Nehm of The Athletic provides a trade deadline primer for the Bucks, noting that Milwaukee is limited in potential deals by being a luxury tax team. He believes Robert Covington, Larry Nance Jr. or P.J. Washington could theoretically fit well with the team, but creating the frameworks for those trades is difficult. Goran Dragic, Thaddeus Young, Robin Lopez and Mike Muscala are names to watch on the buyout market, according to Nehm.
  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News explores five things to watch from the Pistons during the second half of the season.
  • Pacers rookie guard Duane Washington Jr., who’s on a two-way contract, set an Indiana rookie record with seven three-pointers in the team’s 117-113 loss at New Orleans on Monday, James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star writes. Washington brings positivity and enthusiasm wherever he goes, according to coach Rick Carlisle. “He has a real grateful vibe,” Carlisle said. “Every day he comes in with a smile on his face, a real positive view of the world in general and he loves to play basketball. He loves to work at being a great teammate, and he plays the game in a very pure way.”

Eastern Notes: McMillan, Harden, Irving, Rozier, Washington Jr.

Hawks coach Nate McMillan believes enough is enough and that the NBA should pause the season, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. The Hawks are one of several teams dealing with major COVID-19 issues. “Of course I think that way, but it’s not up to me,” McMillan said. “The league is trying to keep this season going. Of course, it’s really frustrating for us and a lot of other teams.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • James Harden is looking forward to getting Kyrie Irving back in the Nets lineup, even on a limited basis, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Irving is expected to see action in some road games sometime next month. “Obviously, we all know how special of a talent Kyrie is and what he means to this organization and our team. So just to be around him, even if it’s only for road games, will be huge for us,” Harden said. “He obviously makes all our jobs a lot easier.”
  • Hornets guard Terry Rozier admits he needs to step it up on the defensive end, as he told Rod Boone of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). “To be honest, my defense all year just hasn’t been there all year as far as effort,” he said. “I’ll be the first to say it.” Rozier was re-signed to a four-year, $96.26MM extension this summer.
  • Two-way player Duane Washington Jr. got a chance to play 11 minutes on Sunday due to Pacers backcourt injuries. He contributed two points, two rebounds and two assists. Washington, who has been averaging 19.5 PPG in the G League, took a three-hour bus from Indianapolis to Chicago to play in the game, according to James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star. “He did a nice job for us,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He played with high energy, he moved the ball, he scrambled around defensively, and offensively you’ve got to guard him. He’s a guy that can shoot and make shots. It’s really a great opportunity for him.”

Pacers Announce Three Signings

The Pacers have officially confirmed three previously-reported signings, announcing today in a press release that they’ve added Duane Washington, Terry Taylor, and Keifer Sykes to their roster. Washington received a two-way deal, while Taylor and Sykes are believed to have signed Exhibit 10 contracts.

Washington, a 6’3″ shooting guard, went undrafted last Thursday out of Ohio State. A second-generation NBA pro, Washington is the son of former journeyman shooting guard Duane Washington Sr. and the nephew of five-time Lakers champion point guard (and current Sparks coach) Derek Fisher. Our full story on his two-way deal is here.

Taylor, a 6’5″ wing, who worked out for more than half the teams in the NBA during the pre-draft process, had a big senior year in 2020/21 for Austin Peay, averaging 21.6 points and 11.1 rebounds in 27 games (37.0 MPG). The full story on his training camp agreement with Indiana is here.

An undrafted free agent out of Green Bay in 2015, Sykes has spent most of the last several seasons playing in international leagues. The 27-year-old point guard participated in this summer’s The Basketball Tournament and hit the game-winning three-point shot on Tuesday night to clinch the title and the $1MM prize for Boeheim’s Army (video link). Our story on his Exhibit 10 deal is here.

Indiana’s roster is now officially at 16 players, with deals for T.J. McConnell, Torrey Craig, and Isaiah Jackson still to be finalized and Cassius Stanley‘s contract situation still to be resolved (he’s a two-way RFA). Teams can carry up to 20 players in the offseason.

Pacers To Add Duane Washington Via Two-Way Deal

The Pacers will sign undrafted junior Ohio State shooting guard Duane Washington Jr. to a two-way contract, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter).

The 6’3″ wing was named to the 2020/21 All-Big Ten Third Team during his final collegiate year. A second-generation NBA pro, Washington is the son of former journeyman shooting guard Duane Washington Sr. and the nephew of five-time Lakers champion point guard (and current Sparks coach) Derek Fisher.

During his final NCAA season, Washington averaged 16.4 PPG, 3.4 RPG, and 2.9 APG in 32.2 MPG. He started in all 31 of his appearances with the Buckeyes this season. Washington posted a solid slash line of .410/.374/.853 for the 2020/21 season. A good shooter, Washington’s defensive deficiencies and limited playmaking ability may impact his efficacy at the next level.

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Barton, Edwards, Nuggets Workouts

Keeping Mike Conley is a top priority for the Jazz, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic in his off-season primer, but there are plenty of other questions beyond that facing this year’s No. 1 seed in the West.

One such question will be if the Jazz can hit on the 30th pick in the draft. While it’s not historically a wellspring for players who can help a team with championship ambitions, this is a deep draft and there are plenty of examples of success stories at that spot, such as Jimmy Butler, Kevin Porter Jr.., Kevon Looney, and Kyle Anderson, among others.

There’s also the question of their current young players on the roster. Though Donovan Mitchell is the only young player who is a member of the team’s core, the Jazz will have to decide which other youngsters they keep and try to develop, and which they let go.

We have more from around the Northwest Division:

  • Will Barton of the Nuggets was cagey about the topic of his impending player option deadline and whether he’ll look to enter free agency, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post.  “Being appreciated,” Barton said of what he’s looking for in free agency. “Team knowing my value. Of course, an important role. Just the right situation. I want to win.” Barton will have to decide whether he picks up his $14.6MM player option by July 17.
  • The Timberwolves have brought Anthony Edwards back to Minnesota for an injury evaluation, reports Christina Long of The Star Tribune. Edwards was among the players chosen to practice with Team USA as part of the Select Team, but was seen limping off the floor last week. A Star Tribune source reports that the injury is non-knee related, and is a sprain.
  • The Nuggets held a workout for six draft prospects yesterday, tweets Mike Singer: Josh Christopher, Quentin Grimes, Jason Preston, Duane Washington, Jordan Goodman, and Matt Coleman. Of the six, Christopher and Grimes are the highest-ranked, and either one could potentially be in play when the Nuggets are on the board with the 26th pick.