Garrison Mathews

Rockets Claim Garrison Mathews, Waive Anthony Lamb

The Rockets have made a change to one of their two-way contract slots, waiving forward Anthony Lamb and replacing him with guard Garrison Mathews, reports Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter links). According to Iko, Houston claimed Mathews off waivers and converted his Exhibit 10 contract to a two-way deal.

Mathews, who was on a two-way contract with Washington for each of the past two seasons after going undrafted out of Lipscomb in 2019, emerged as a regular rotation player for Washington in 2020/21, averaging 5.5 PPG in 64 games (16.2 MPG). The 24-year-old shooting guard has displayed a reliable outside shot since entering the NBA, making 38.9% of 244 total three-point attempts.

The Celtics signed Mathews to a training camp contract this offseason and he was a candidate to be converted to a two-way deal in Boston, but he reportedly asked the team not to do so. According to Jared Weiss of The Athletic, Mathews thought it was unlikely he’d be promoted to the Celtics’ standard roster during the season if he were on a two-way deal with the team. There’s a better path to a 15-man roster spot in Houston, where the Rockets will likely try to trade some veterans this season.

As for Lamb, he played in the G League bubble with the Canton Charge and Rio Grande Valley Vipers earlier this year after going undrafted out of Vermont in 2020. His solid showing for Houston’s G League affiliate (the Vipers) earned him a two-way deal with the Rockets in March. He averaged 5.5 PPG and 2.9 RPG in 24 games (17.3 MPG) for Houston, then accepted his two-way qualifying offer this offseason. He’s a candidate to return to the Vipers.

The Rockets also completed another minor transaction, quietly signing and waiving big man Mfiondu Kabengele, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. The sign-and-waive move ensures that Houston can make Kabengele an affiliate player for Rio Grande Valley, assuming he signs a G League contract.

Kabengele, 24, was the 27th overall pick in the 2019 draft, but barely played for the Clippers in his rookie year and had his rookie scale team option for the 2021/22 season turned down. He was traded to the Kings at the 2021 deadline, then caught on with the Cavaliers after being cut by Sacramento. The 6’9″ Canadian played in 16 games for the Cavs down the stretch, averaging 4.3 PPG and 2.9 RPG in 11.6 minutes per contest.

Because Kabengele signed his Exhibit 10 contract with Houston on Sunday and wasn’t cut until Monday, he’ll still be on waivers when the regular season begins. That means the Rockets will take on a small cap hit for a couple days worth of his minimum salary.

Celtics Notes: Mathews, Two-Way Slot, Langford, Williams

Garrison Mathews, who was released by the Celtics earlier today, turned down a two-way contract with the team, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Mathews is hoping to receive a standard contract from another organization, sources tell Weiss. He has returned home to examine possible opportunities and doesn’t plan to play overseas.

Mathews was reluctant to accept Boston’s offer because he doesn’t believe the team will consider converting either of its two-way players to standard deals because of its tax situation, Weiss adds. Mathews is a similar player to Sam Hauser, who holds the Celtics’ other two-way slot, and he decided that he’s better off pursuing at least a two-way deal with another team.

Mathews, who will turn 25 next week, isn’t expected to join the Celtics’ G League affiliate in Maine like the three other players who were waived today. He spent the past two seasons as a two-way player with the Wizards, averaging 5.5 PPG and shooting 38.9% from three-point range in 82 total games.

There’s more from Boston:

  • Theo Pinson, who was also waived today, is still a candidate for the open two-way slot, Weiss adds. Coach Ime Udoka played Pinson a combined 33 minutes in two preseason games this week, and Weiss reports that he showed some ability on the pick and roll and was impressive on defense. However, president of basketball operations Brad Stevens will see which players become available before making a final decision.
  • Romeo Langford capped off an impressive preseason Friday night with a 7-for-9 shooting night, writes Souichi Terada of MassLive. The third-year shooting guard, who hopes to expand the 15.7 minutes per game he played last season, was in the starting lineup for the last three preseason games. “It’s been good being able to get the run in and with confidence and just being able to go out and play basketball,” Langford said. “Being in the rotation, being in the first group was good to be able to do. Glad for that opportunity.”
  • Starting center Robert Williams missed Friday’s game with right knee tendinopathy, but Udoka says it doesn’t appear to be a long-term concern and he likely would have played if it were a regular-season game, Terada adds in the same piece. “He just had some soreness yesterday and early this morning,” Udoka said after the game. “Tested it at shootaround, tested it before the game and he felt a little soreness. So we just were on the safe side and obviously a preseason game. … He’ll be ready to go against New York (on opening night).”

Celtics Waive Mathews, Pinson, Kornet, Clemons

The Celtics have waived guard Garrison Mathews, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). The team is also cutting Theo Pinson, Luke Kornet, and Chris Clemons, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link). All four players were on non-guaranteed contracts.

According to Weiss, the plan is for Pinson, Kornet, and Clemons to report to the Maine Celtics in the G League, along with Ryan Arcidiacono and Juwan Morgan, who were released on Friday. However, it doesn’t sound like Mathews will join them — he’ll become an unrestricted free agent if and when he clears waivers.

The moves will leave the Celtics with 16 players under contract, including 15 on standard deals. Jabari Parker and Bruno Fernando, who were battling to hold off those camp invitees for spots on the regular season roster, will remain with the team, Weiss notes.

Boston still has an open two-way slot.

Celtics Sign Garrison Mathews

SEPTEMBER 27: Mathews has officially signed with the Celtics, according to RealGM’s transactions log.

SEPTEMBER 24: Free agent guard Garrison Mathews will sign with the Celtics ahead of training camp, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. It will be a one-year, non-guaranteed contract, according to Charania’s sources.

Mathews, 24, spent his first two seasons as a two-way player with the Wizards after going undrafted out of Lipscomb in 2019. A shooting specialist, he hit 38.4% from three-point range in 64 games last season while averaging 5.5 points and 1.4 rebounds in 16.2 minutes per night.

The move will bring Boston’s roster up to the camp limit of 20, assuming they complete recently-reported deals with Ryan Arcidiacono and Theo Pinson. The club reached an agreement with Luke Kornet as well earlier this month, but it remains to be seen if or when that deal will be finalized.

The Celtics also have a two-way slot open.

Cavs Rumors: Simmons, Love, Frontcourt, Valentine, Mathews, Windler

The Cavaliers, who have been mentioned throughout the summer as a possible Ben Simmons suitor, continue to have interest in landing the Sixers star, writes Marc Stein of Substack.

Chris Fedor of mentioned Cleveland’s pursuit of the three time All-Star today as well, adding that the Cavs could enter the fray as a third team in a Simmons trade in order to acquire either Simmons or a different asset, like they did in the James Harden trade to acquire Jarrett Allen (Taurean Prince was also acquired by the Cavs in the Harden deal, and was recently traded to the Timberwolves for Ricky Rubio).

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • The Cavaliers continue to be in a tough spot with Kevin Love, Fedor notes. Love played just 25 games last season and his impact on the court has diminished over the course of his contract, which still has two years and $60MM remaining. Such a hefty sum will make it difficult to trade Love without attaching assets, which doesn’t interest the Cavs unless they feel the situation becomes untenable. Fedor adds that the previously rumored buyout talks went nowhere, which means the team and player are stuck with each other — for now.
  • Evan Mobley is the presumed starting power forward for the Cavs, with $100MM man Allen slotting in at center, Fedor opines, which would make newly-acquired Lauri Markkanen the team’s de facto sixth man. How coach J.B. Bickerstaff manages the frontcourt situation is worth monitoring for a number of reasons, particularly because Markkanen was disappointed about coming off the bench for the Bulls last season, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. According to Fedor, the Cavs have talked about having Mobley, Allen, and Markkanen each playing about 26-30 minutes per night.
  • The Cavs continue to look for wing depth and shooting, Fedor notes, which is crucial to the team’s offensive development. The Cavs were one of the worst shooting teams in the league last season, ranking 25th in FG%, 26th in FT%, 29th in 3PT made, 28th 3PT attempts, and 30th in 3PT%. Sources tell Fedor that Denzel Valentine is interested in Cleveland and that Garrison Mathews could be another possible target.
  • Dylan Windler, who underwent surgery in April on his left knee, isn’t a lock to be ready for the start of training camp, says Fedor.

Wizards Rescinding Garrison Mathews’ Qualifying Offer

The Wizards are pulling their qualifying offer to Garrison Mathews off the table, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link). The move will make Mathews an unrestricted free agent.

Mathews, who has been on a two-way contract with Washington for each of the past two seasons, emerged as a regular rotation player for the team in 2020/21, averaging 5.5 PPG in 64 games (16.2 MPG). The 24-year-old shooting guard has displayed a reliable outside shot since entering the NBA, making 38.9% of 244 total three-point attempts.

The Wizards issued Mathews a qualifying offer last week to make him a restricted free agent. That QO was a partially guaranteed one-year minimum-salary offer and gave Washington matching rights in the event that Mathews signed an offer sheet with another team.

However, as Katz explains, the Wizards’ roster is almost full as a result of the complex five-team trade that will send six players to D.C. — by my count, 14 of the 15 slots on Washington’s regular season roster are spoken for. The club is also close to the tax line, Katz notes, and may want to retain some flexibility with that 15th roster spot.

Mathews will now be free to sign outright with any other team.

Wizards Issue QOs To Mathews, Winston; Will Make Bonga UFA

The Wizards will not issue a qualifying offer to Isaac Bonga, thereby making him an unrestricted free agent, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

The 6’8″ point forward saw his playing time cut nearly in half from the 2019/2020 season to last year. Despite the flashes of potential he showed, the Wizards now find themselves with a logjam of forwards, and Bonga appears to be the odd man out. His QO would’ve been worth about $2.08MM.

The Wizards are, however, extending qualifying offers to guards Garrison Mathews and Cassius Winston, according to a tweet from The Athletic’s Fred Katz. Both players finished the season on two-way contracts with Washington.

Mathews, who went undrafted in 2019, was a revelation as a feisty sharp-shooter for the Wizards this season, and even started 24 games. Winston, last year’s No. 53 overall pick, wasn’t able to crack Washington’s rotation in a major way during his rookie year, but the accomplished collegiate point guard has potential as a shooter and pick and roll play-maker, and the Wizards have need of guards.

Mathews’ qualifying offer will be a standard minimum-salary contract with a small partial guarantee, while Winston’s will be another two-way deal.

Wizards Rumors: Brown, Drummond, Mathews, Bell, More

While Bradley Beal remains extremely unlikely to be traded within the next nine days, that doesn’t mean the Wizards will stand pat at this month’s trade deadline. According to Fred Katz and David Aldridge of The Athletic, league sources have suggested that Washington appears open to moving young players like Troy Brown, Moritz Wagner, Jerome Robinson, and Isaac Bonga.

All of those players are between 21 and 24 years old and are on relatively inexpensive contracts, but they’ve been in and out of the rotation this season and aren’t particularly valuable trade assets. Of the four, Brown probably has the most appeal. One executive told Katz and Aldridge that the Wizrads could probably get a “second-round-equivalent asset” for the former 15th overall pick.

“My guess is an early second(-rounder) and/or a decent young player,” another executive said. “I’m sure they’d like more, but not sure those guys have much more value than that at this point.”

Here’s more on the Wizards from Katz and Aldridge:

  • Although a quad injury will keep Ish Smith on the shelf through the trade deadline, one opposing GM thinks the point guard could have a little trade value to any team “looking to add veteran pace to its second unit.”
  • The Wizards are keeping an eye on Cavaliers center Andre Drummond as a possible buyout target, sources tell The Athletic. Drummond would probably prefer a contending team in that scenario, but Washington could pique his interest by using its $4.2MM disabled player exception to offer more than the veteran’s minimum.
  • Since players on two-way contracts can now appear in all 72 games and are eligible to play in the postseason, there’s less urgency to convert Garrison Mathews to a standard contract. Still, he’s a candidate to be promoted to the 15-man roster, especially if the Wizards can lock him up to a multiyear deal. In that scenario, Jordan Bell would be a leading contender to fill Mathews’ vacated two-way slot, per Katz and Aldridge.
  • According to The Athletic’s duo, one obstacle that could complicate the Wizards’ pursuit of Drummond or negotiations with Mathews is the club’s desire to stay below the luxury tax threshold — team salary is currently within $1MM of that line, though certain trades could create more breathing room.

Wizards Notes: Westbrook, Bryant, Neto, Mathews

Improved play from Russell Westbrook has sparked the Wizards‘ move up the Eastern Conference standings, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. The former MVP says the difference involves recovering from a left quad injury that had been bothering him since he was acquired from the Rockets in December.

“Well, I can move and jump now,” Westbrook said. “So, there ya go.”

Westbrook’s quickness has returned, Katz adds, and he has become more aggressive in attacking the basket. He took 55% of his shots at the rim during the team’s recent four-game road trip after shooting just 26% of them from there earlier in the season.

“He just does a great job of staying in attack mode. We’re better when he does that,” Bradley Beal said. “He’s just being able to put pressure on the rim, getting to the basket, letting our bigs be able to follow up for offensive tip-backs if that’s the case. So, we just need him always in that mode. He never stops.”

There’s more on the Wizards:

  • Thomas Bryant joined his teammates on the bench Saturday for the first time since suffering a season-ending ACL tear in January, Katz tweets“That was definitely the best part about the first half, just seeing him in the locker room,” coach Scott Brooks said. “… He’s definitely missed, loved by all of us.”
  • Backup point guard Raul Neto had to leave Saturday’s game with a left knee contusion, but Brooks doesn’t believe it’s serious, Katz adds (via Twitter). The team will check on Neto’s condition today.
  • The Wizards have won seven of their eight games since Brooks inserted Garrison Mathews and Moritz Wagner into the starting lineup, notes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports. Both are among the top 10 in the league in drawing charges, and they have raised the team’s energy level. Brooks is particularly impressed with Mathews, who earned a two-way contract last year after going undrafted. “He’s a fighter,” Brooks said. “I remember the pre-draft workout. We did this running drill and he has our record. I thought his lungs were going to explode he was running so hard. You could tell that he wanted to slow down, but he was determined. That got my attention right there.”

Two-Way Players Making Bids For Promotions

Players on two-way contracts are free to appear in NBA games, but there are limitations on the amount of time they can spend with their respective NBA teams. Even in 2020/21, with those restrictions loosened a little, each two-way player can only appear in 50 of his team’s 72 games, assuming he signed before the season began.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Two-Way Contracts]

While 50 games should be more than enough for most teams to get through the season without maxing out the eligibility of their two-way players, some have emerged as regular rotation pieces for their respective clubs and are likely to reach the 50-game mark before season’s end, barring an injury.

In order to remove those restrictions, a team has to promote a two-way player to its 15-man roster, either converting him to a rest-of-season, minimum-salary contract or negotiating a new multiyear deal.

While it’s a little early in the 2020/21 season to determine which two-way players will ultimately end up being promoted to 15-man rosters, a handful of players on two-way deals have made strong cases for standard contracts in the early going.

Here are some of the top candidates to receive promotions among this year’s two-way players:

Jordan McLaughlin (Timberwolves)

McLaughlin spent the 2019/20 season on a two-way contract with the Timberwolves and played well enough to earn a standard deal in the offseason, having averaged 7.6 points, 4.2 assists, and 1.1 steals per game with a .489/.382/.667 shooting line in 30 contests (19.7 MPG).

A restricted free agent, McLaughlin reportedly received a multiyear contract offer from Minnesota, but it would’ve been a team-friendly deal that included multiple non-guaranteed years. The 24-year-old opted to bet on himself instead, playing another year on a two-way contract and hoping for a better opportunity when he returns to the free agent market in the summer of 2021.

We’ll have to wait to see whether or not that was the right call, but so far it doesn’t look like last season was a fluke. With D’Angelo Russell, Ricky Rubio, and Anthony Edwards in the picture, there are fewer backcourt minutes to go around, but McLaughlin has played well in a limited role, with 5.5 PPG, 4.1 APG, and .455/.375/.800 shooting in 17.2 MPG (11 games).

Garrison Mathews (Wizards)

Like McLaughlin, Mathews was on a two-way contract last season and played well, but ended up having to take another two-way deal. He’s once again proving that he deserves consideration for a promotion, with 8.9 PPG and 1.4 SPG on .429/.405/.889 shooting through 10 games (19.7 MPG).

Unfortunately for Mathews, the Wizards currently have a full 15-man roster made up of mostly non-expendable players. If the team cuts recent signee Alex Len at some point or makes a trades that opens up a roster spot, that could create an opportunity for Mathews.

Yuta Watanabe (Raptors)

Invited to training camp on an Exhibit 10 contract alongside other NBA veterans like Henry Ellenson and Alize Johnson in the fall, Watanabe played his way onto the 17-man regular season roster, with the Raptors converting his non-guaranteed camp deal into a two-way contract at the end of the preseason.

Since then, Watanabe who spent the last two years on a two-way deal with the Grizzlies, has gradually been making a case for more playing time. His box-score numbers (3.9 PPG and 3.4 RPG) are modest, but he’s been hot from three-point range so far, knocking down 12-of-25 attempts (48.0%) and is providing energy and defensive itensity off the bench.

In Toronto’s last five games, Watanabe has been one of the team’s most-used bench players, logging 18.8 minutes per game and bumping his averages to 8.0 PPG and 5.0 RPG.

Since releasing Len, the Raptors have been holding an open spot on their 15-man roster. If that spot doesn’t get filled in a trade at some point in the coming weeks, Watanabe looks like the best bet to fill it before the end of the season.

Others to watch:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.