Gorgui Dieng

Southwest Notes: Dieng, Wall, Thomas, Williamson

Big man Gorgui Dieng is dealing with a right shoulder injury that will nag him the rest of the season but he’ll play through the pain, according to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express News. Dieng banged his shoulder into Kings forward Chimezie Metu while making his Spurs debut late last month. Dieng signed with San Antonio after getting bought out and waived by Memphis. “It’s going to hurt throughout the whole season, but from this point on it cannot get worse,” Dieng said.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Rockets guard John Wall will not play both ends of a back-to-back set for the remainder of the season, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle reports. “Moving forward, we are going to make sure we’re smart with his injury management, the wear that he has, all of these things,” head coach Stephen Silas said. Wall has started 33 games in his first season with Houston, averaging 20.5 PPG and 6.8 APG, after recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon that sidelined him last season.
  • Isaiah Thomas is back in the NBA on a 10-day contract with the Pelicans and he claims his hip injuries are now a non-issue, Andrew Lopez of ESPN writes. “I’m 102%. I’m more than good,” Thomas said. “This is the best I ever felt since before I got injured. It’s not even a question no more.” In his first two appearances with New Orleans, Thomas has averaged 10.5 PPG and 2.5 APG in 22.o MPG.
  • Zion Williamson is increasingly serving as a point forward for the Pelicans and coach Stan Van Gundy believes that’s the role the All-Star will have going forward, according to William Guillory of The Athletic. Williamson piled up 37 points and eight assists against Philadelphia on Friday. “We want to get him more experience with that stuff going forward because I think that’s where his future is in this game. I really do,” Van Gundy said. “We’ve increased it throughout the year, giving him more and more opportunities. We’d like to get him more moving forward.”

Free Agent Stock Watch: Southwest Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Southwest Division:

Justise Winslow, Grizzlies, 24, SF/PF (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $39MM extension in 2019

The Grizzlies waited a long time to see what they had in Winslow after acquiring him from the Heat last February. The 25-year-old was injured when he was traded and never returned to action last season. During the summer restart in Orlando, he suffered a left hip displacement, which also caused him to miss the first 25 games this season.

Winslow appeared in 16 games off the bench since returning to action and hasn’t provided much punch, averaging 7.1 PPG and 4.8 RPG with a woeful PER of 5.28. He’s currently sidelined by a sore thigh. The team holds a $13MM option on his contract for next season and Winslow, whose career seemed to be taking off two seasons ago as a point forward, will be hunting for another fresh start this summer.

Gorgui Dieng, Spurs, 31, PF/C (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $1MM deal in 2021

The Grizzlies couldn’t find a trade for Dieng because his contract was too big but after he cleared waivers, he reportedly had at least eight teams interested in signing him. The Spurs, who had just reached a buyout with LaMarcus Aldridge, won him over with a recruiting pitch. Dieng’s popularity as a free agent last week bodes well for him this summer, though he’s currently sidelined by a sore shoulder. Minnesota overpaid him for him in 2017 (four-year, $62.8MM). Dieng’s next contract will probably be closer to veteran’s minimum numbers but he’s still valued as a quality second-unit big.

Boban Marjanovic, Mavericks, 32, C (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $7MM deal in 2019

Boban still has enough star power to land a Goldfish cracker commercial. In another era, Marjanovic might have been one of the game’s biggest draws. Alas, there’s little use for a slow-footed 7’4’’ center the way the game is played today. Marjanovic can still dominate in spurts against certain opponents but those opportunities are few and far between. The gentle giant is always fun to watch when he gets a chance to play but he’s only seen spot duty in 22 games. Hopefully, Dallas or another team will give him at least a minimum deal this summer so he can make a few more commercials with his pal Tobias Harris.

Avery Bradley, Rockets, 30, PG, (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $11.6MM deal in 2020

Bradley started 44 games for the Lakers last season, then opted out of the restart and watched the team win the championship from afar. He declined a $5MM option to stay with the Lakers and signed a two-year deal with Miami to join its guard rotation. That didn’t go well, as Bradley has been injured most of the season. His salary was thrown into the Victor Oladipo trade and he now finds himself on one of the league’s worst teams. It’s hard to imagine that Houston will exercise its $5.9MM option on Bradley’s contract for next season, so he’ll be shopping his services again this summer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southwest Notes: Ball, Mavericks, Porter, Dieng

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball expressed his excitement to remain in New Orleans beyond the trade deadline and his enthusiasm for the club’s trajectory beyond this season, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

“I’m just comfortable here,” Ball said of the Pelicans. “I also love playing with [Zion Williamson] and [Brandon Ingram]. We have a lot of young guys. I think we can be good in the time coming.” The point guard, selected with the second pick in 2017, will be a restricted free agent this summer.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Mavericks center Willie Cauley-Stein and point guard Tyrell Terry remain indefinitely away from the club, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News tweets. Cauley-Stein is still in the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, while Terry has been absent due to personal reasons for the past two weeks. “We don’t have timetables,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’ll let you [reporters] know when we know something. Other than that, there’s not much we can talk about.”
  • After trading away shooting guard Victor Oladipo, the 13-34 Rockets have clearly embraced their rebuild. In a happy surprise, 20-year-old new acquisition Kevin Porter Jr.‘s development has proven to be a bright spot just four games into his Houston tenure, per Kelly Iko of The Athletic. “He’s done everything that we need him to do,” head coach Stephen Silas said. “We have a lot of trust in him. There’s going to be ups and downs and conversations to be had just like every other player, but my door is always open and there’s a support system that can help him be successful on and off the floor.”
  • Newly-signed Spurs center Gorgui Dieng sprained his shoulder during his San Antonio debut and will miss tonight’s contest against the Hawks, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets. Head coach Gregg Popovich speculated that, while there was fortunately no structural damage to the shoulder, the big man will miss at least a week, per Orsborn (Twitter link). “I am just going to make a guess, which is probably not wise, but it’s pretty much going to be on pain tolerance,” Popovich said. “I think it’s going to be another good week before he is able to use that.”

Spurs Notes: Dieng, Walker, Aldridge, Samanic

While other bought-out veterans have joined the Lakers and Nets in pursuit of a championship, Gorgui Dieng opted to sign with the Spurs, the No. 7 seed in the West. Explaining his decision to join San Antonio, Dieng said he was won over by the team’s pitch to him.

“It was like college recruiting all over again,” Dieng said, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter links). “Everybody is going to talk to you and tell you why they want you to be on their team, and I felt comfortable with what I heard here.

“I like the team, I like the way they play. … They have a good system. The ball doesn’t stop. It moves around. They play together and they have a Hall-of-Fame coach that knows how to run his team. I am pretty excited to see what they are all about.”

It remains to see how much playing time Dieng will see with the Spurs, but he thinks he’ll be a good fit, given his ability to shoot threes and play defense. Dieng told reporters today that he’s willing to play whatever role coach Gregg Popovich envisions for him (Twitter link via Orsborn).

Here’s more on the Spurs:

  • Popovich said on Saturday that Lonnie Walker, who is currently sidelined with a sore right wrist, could miss “another week or so,” Orsborn writes for The San Antonio Express-News. Walker hasn’t played since last Monday.
  • Popovich wished veteran big man LaMarcus Aldridge well following his agreement with the Nets, Orsborn notes in the same story. “He was a wonderful teammate, and he will do a very good job in Brooklyn,” Popovich said.
  • Since being drafted 19th overall in 2019, Luka Samanic has seen more action in the G League (39 games) than in the NBA (19 games), but the second-year power forward could be in line for an increased role down the stretch, says Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. “He’s beginning to prove himself deserving of time,” Popovich said of Samanic, who averaged a double-double (21.8 PPG, 11.3 RPG) in six NBAGL games for the Austin Spurs last month.
  • In case you missed it earlier today, we relayed details on how much cash the Spurs received in the Marquese Chriss trade, the amount of Aldridge’s buyout, and Dieng’s rest-of-season salary.

Cap/Cash Notes: Warriors, Drummond, Clippers, Rockets, More

When the Warriors traded Marquese Chriss to the Spurs and Brad Wanamaker to the Hornets at the trade deadline, they included cash in both deals. By moving Chriss’ $1.82MM cap hit and Wanamaker’s $2.25MM salary off their books, Golden State will generate substantial tax savings, which will outweigh the cash they gave up in the two trades.

As a result, the Warriors didn’t mind sending $1.85MM to the Spurs along with Chriss, per Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link), and $2.2MM to the Hornets with Wanamaker, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic.

Teams are limited to sending out no more than $5.62MM in cash in 2020/21 trades, so the Warriors will be limited to about $1.57MM at the draft. Their yearly limit will reset once the new league year begins, so if Golden State reaches a draft-day trade that involves more than $1.57MM in outgoing cash, it’s a safe bet the team will wait until the 2021/22 league year starts to officially finalize it.

Here are a few more leftover cap-related notes from Marks and Hollinger on trades and buyouts:

  • Andre Drummond will earn the prorated veteran’s minimum of $794,536 on his new deal with the Lakers, which is – not coincidentally – the exact amount he gave up in his buyout with the Cavaliers, says ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Marks notes that the Lakers still have enough room under the hard cap to sign a 15th player.
  • The Clippers sent $2.75MM to the Kings in the Mfiondu Kabengele salary dump and $1.25MM to the Hawks in the Rajon Rondo trade, reports Hollinger.
  • The Rockets took in Avery Bradley‘s $5.64MM salary using part of the traded player exception created in the James Harden trade, allowing them to generate a larger TPE for Victor Oladipo, says Hollinger. That means, instead of having a $10.65MM TPE that expires early next season and a $2.77MM that expires at next season’s deadline, Houston has TPEs worth $5.02MM and $8.18MM. You can see more details here.
  • Gorgui Dieng gave up $699,952 in a buyout with the Grizzlies, according to Hollinger. That’s the exact amount the big man would have earned on a minimum-salary deal if he officially signed with the Spurs on Wednesday, but he completed his deal with San Antonio today, so it’ll be worth $729,737.
  • That leaves LaMarcus Aldridge as the only player to give up significantly more than his prorated minimum in a post-deadline buyout. As Hollinger explains, the discrepancy between the reported amounts of Aldridge’s buyout was due to escrow. Aldridge gave up $7.25MM in his agreement with the Spurs, which will work out to $5.8MM after factoring in the league’s escrow cut.

Spurs Sign Gorgui Dieng, Waive Marquese Chriss

MARCH 29: The Spurs have made it official with Dieng, announcing in a press release that they’ve signed him to a new contract.


MARCH 28: Free agent center Gorgui Dieng will sign with the Spurs once he clears waivers, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. The Knicks, Suns, Clippers, Sixers, Raptors, Heat and Nets also reached out to Dieng, sources tell Stein (Twitter link).

San Antonio doesn’t have an open roster spot, so Marquese Chriss will be waived to make room for Dieng, as Shams Charania of The Athletic first reported (via Twitter). Chriss, who is out for the year with a broken right fibula, was acquired from the Warriors on Thursday. His $1.8MM contract expires at the end of the season.

The Spurs have officially released Chriss, Marc Stein of The New York Times tweets.

The Grizzlies waived Dieng on Friday after failing to find a taker for him by the trade deadline. His $17.3MM contract limited the options for Memphis on the trade market.

Dieng has played in just 22 games this season and was averaging 7.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per night. He had fallen behind Xavier Tillman in the rotation and didn’t appear to have a future with the Grizzlies.

Dieng will officially clear waivers at 5pm today. The 31-year-old will provide another veteran front court option for San Antonio, which reached a buyout agreement with LaMarcus Aldridge on Thursday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Knicks Notes: Robinson, Drummond, Free Agents, Payne

Knicks players were crushed to learn that center Mitchell Robinson suffered another serious injury Saturday night, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Playing his second game back in the starting lineup, the third-year center got hurt midway through the first quarter when he tried for a steal attempt. Robinson landed awkwardly and wound up with a fracture in his right root. The Knicks announced the injury to the public, but didn’t tell the players until after the game.

“He worked so hard to get back,” RJ Barrett said. “To see him go down again, it hurts us, hurts the team. But we’re just — we’re gonna be with him every step of the way until he gets back.”

The timing is particularly bad for New York, coming on the same night that word leaked that LaMarcus Aldridge plans to signs with the Nets and Andre Drummond appears headed to the Lakers. The Knicks have cap room to use on the buyout market, but the two biggest names are already likely committed.

“He’ll be fine,” coach Tom Thibodeau said of Robinson. “He’ll have to go through rehab and stuff, but he’s been through that before, and just maximize his time that way. But you feel for a teammate. It’s part of the game, and you have to deal with it as best you can.”

There’s more from New York:

  • “One or two prominent voices” in the Knicks’ front office were in favor of pursuing Drummond before the organization cooled on the idea, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link). He adds that the team had been hoping to use the rest of the season to evaluate how Robinson fits in Thibodeau’s system. If New York picks up Robinson’s $1.8MM team option for 2021/22, it would put him on track for unrestricted free agency in ’22. Begley states that Gorgui Dieng, Norvel Pelle and John Henson could be potential low-cost pickups for the Knicks, who have an open roster spot.
  • Assistant coach Kenny Payne will remain in New York, even though DePaul had strong interest in making him its next head coach, Begley tweets.
  • The Knicks were quiet at the trade deadline while teams around them in the standings made big moves, notes Steve Popper of Newsday. The organization has adopted a strategy of preserving its assets for the future, rather than gambling to make a playoff run this year.

Lakers “Strong Frontrunner” To Sign Andre Drummond

The Lakers are considered a “strong frontrunner” to sign center Andre Drummond when he clears waivers, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The team’s star players have been trying to convince Drummond to join them and he is close to making a decision, according to sources (Twitter link).

Drummond finalized a buyout with the Cavaliers on Friday and will officially clear waivers on Sunday evening.

The Lakers can’t give Drummond more than the veteran’s minimum, but they have a starting job to offer as well as a chance to compete for a title. He has only been to the playoffs twice in his nine NBA seasons.

Drummond met recently with the Celtics, who are also a contender for his services. Boston is in the market for help at center after trading Daniel Theis on Thursday.

The Knicks pulled out of the Drummond sweepstakes, deciding against getting into a bidding war, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. With $15MM in cap space, New York is in position to make Drummond the best offer, but the Knicks have decided to use those resources elsewhere.

Berman states that team officials have been watching film on Drummond to determine how he would fit alongside Julius Randle and whether he would be worth the investment if it means taking Mitchell Robinson out of the starting lineup. The Knicks decided they’re set at center with Robinson, Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson providing a solid defensive presence.

New York could still be active on the buyout market, a source tells Berman. Point guard Jeff Teague, who was waived today by the Magic, played for Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota. Other names to watch are small forward Otto Porter, who was traded to the Magic on Thursday and still remains with the team, and center Gorgui Dieng, who was waived Friday by the Grizzlies.

Grizzlies Waive Gorgui Dieng

The Grizzlies have waived Gorgui Dieng, according to a press release posted on the team’s Twitter feed.

The 31-year-old big man has appeared in 39 games, including 22 this season, in parts of two seasons with Memphis. He’s averaged 7.6 PPG and 5.0 RPG in 17.7 MPG during those contests.

His $17.3MM expiring contract made it difficult to deal Dieng before Thursday’s deadline. With Xavier Tillman Sr. ahead of him in the rotation behind starting center Jonas Valanciunas, Dieng became a prime buyout candidate.

He’ll clear waivers on Sunday afternoon and become an attractive pickup for a contender seeking frontcourt help.

Kleiman: Jaren Jackson Jr. To Return In April

Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. is on track to return to action before the end of April, the team’s executive VP of basketball operations Zach Kleiman said on Friday, per Drew Hill of The Daily Memphian.

Jackson has yet to play at all for Memphis this season as he recovers from undergoing surgery to repair a torn left meniscus. As Kleiman explained today, the Grizzlies knew the third-year forward would be sidelined for a significant period when they decided to fully repair his meniscus tear rather than opting for a quicker fix.

“When Jaren first tore his meniscus there are kind of two routes you can take,” Kleiman said, according to Hill. “You can either do what’s called a meniscectomy, where you shave down or trim the meniscus, and you can be back in a couple of months. But at that point you lose the protective function of the meniscus. It leads to swelling and soreness and recurring knee issues over time.

“What we did with Jaren, with his long-term health in mind and everyone on the same page of taking the long view, was to repair his meniscus. The surgeon went in and was thankfully able to repair 100% of his meniscus. But, a full repair of a meniscus often times takes up to eight months or nine months.”

As Jackson inches closer to his return, another power forward’s days in Memphis appear to be numbered. Asked today about Gorgui Dieng, who is viewed as a possible buyout candidate, Kleiman didn’t explicitly confirm that the Grizzlies will move onto him, but didn’t say the 31-year-old will finish the season with the team either.

“More to come on Gorgui,” Kleiman said. “There will be more updates there.”