Hamidou Diallo

Northwest Notes: Nuggets’ D, Rose, Thunder

Despite scoring being at a near-all-time high early on this NBA season, one team has still been able to hold every one of its opponents to less than 100 points in each game played thus far – the Nuggets.  And while one may not think of the up-and-coming Nuggets as a defensive juggernaut just yet, head coach Michael Malone is a defensive guy at his core, writes Christopher Dempsey of Nuggets.com.

Yes, it’s awfully early to make any long lasting conclusions about a team’s defensive prowess this season, but Malone is excited about the potential for this year’s team to be one of the best defensive teams to come along in Denver in a while. This is the defense I dream about,” Malone said. “Ever since I got here.”

Asked why exactly it is his team is playing so well on the defensive side of the ball so far during the 2018/19 campaign, Malone lauded his team’s effort and want-to. “I would say just an overall buy-in and commitment. You can talk game plan and you can talk strategy but at the end of the day, for me, defense comes down to pride. Do you want to go out there and give it everything you have to defend?

Additionally, Dempsey opines that adding defensive-minded players like Torrey Craig, Gary Harris, Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee has helped the mentality around the team morph into a more defensive-oriented group.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves’ head coach Tom Thibodeau evidently thinks backup guard Derrick Rose still has a lot of gas left in the tank, despite a bevy of evidence to the contrary, telling Jace Frederick of the Pioneer Press that “as long as (Rose is) healthy, he’ll be one of the best players in the league.”
  • The Thunder, praised as one of the best teams in the deep Western Conference to begin the season, have gotten off to a rocky, 0-3 start. Yet, as Erik Horne of The Oklahoman writes, there exists reason for optimism, with rookie Hamidou Diallo and newcomer Nerlens Noel both providing a spark off the bench in Sunday’s loss to the lowly Kings.
  • In other Thunder news, Brett Dawson of The Athletic is reporting that guard Alex Abrines, who left Sunday’s game in the first half with a mouth contusion, and who will compete for Diallo and Terrance Ferguson for minutes until the return of Andre Roberson, is not expected to miss any additional time.

Contract Details: Thomas, Harris, Len, Knicks

The three-year, minimum-salary deal that Khyri Thomas signed with the Pistons looks identical to the one fellow second-rounder Bruce Brown received from the club, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders details. Both contracts include two guaranteed seasons with a non-guaranteed third year.

In giving Thomas three years instead of two, the Pistons had to once again dip into the mid-level exception. The team has now used that exception to sign Thomas, Brown, and Glenn Robinson, pushing its total MLE commitments to about $5.75MM. That figure exceeds the amount of the taxpayer mid-level, meaning Detroit will now be hard-capped at $129.817MM for the rest of the 2018/19 league year.

Teams become hard-capped when they acquire a player via sign-and-trade, use their bi-annual exception, or use more than the taxpayer portion ($5.337MM) of the mid-level exception.

Here are several more contract- and salary-related updates from Pincus:

  • Joe Harris‘ fully guaranteed two-year deal with the Nets is worth exactly $16MM, but it’s worth more in the first year ($8.33MM) than the second ($7.67MM), per Pincus.
  • The Hawks used nearly their entire room exception ($4.449MM) on Alex Len‘s two-year contract, which starts at $4.35MM. Len will earn a little less in year two, for a total value of $8.51MM (link).
  • Noah Vonleh and Kadeem Allen both signed one-year, non-guaranteed contracts with the Knicks, according to Pincus. Vonleh will be owed a $100K guarantee if he remains under contract through September 25.
  • Monte Morris‘ three-year pact with the Nuggets was originally reported as a $4.8MM deal, but Pincus classifies it as a minimum-salary contract, worth about $4.6MM. Morris received two guaranteed years, with the third-year salary set to become guaranteed if he remains under contract through June 30, 2020.
  • The Rockets and Thunder dipped into their taxpayer mid-level exceptions for rookie deals for Isaiah Hartenstein and Hamidou Diallo, respectively. Both are three-year, minimum-salary contracts, but Hartenstein only has one guaranteed year (link) while Diallo has two (link).

Northwest Notes: McCollum, Diallo, Udoh, Thomas

Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey doesn’t seem inclined to break up his smallish backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports notes. Olshey recently said he plans to keep his core group together, despite the team’s first-round flameout in the Western Conference playoffs last season. It might be wise to deal one of them for an impact forward but either Olshey has great faith in his guards or he’s tested the market and couldn’t find a worthwhile deal, Feldman adds.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Hamidou Diallo feels a sense of relief after signing a contract with the Thunder but isn’t sure what kind of role he can carve out, Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman reports. The second-round rookie shooting guard was acquired in a draft-night deal. “We haven’t even spoken about a role yet,” Diallo told Dawson. “We’re still playing pickup ball and stuff like that, still training. Guys are just coming in, veteran players, and trying to teach us as much as possible as early as possible.” Diallo, who received a three-year, $4MM contract, will compete with newcomers Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Abdel Nader for backup minutes.
  • The Jazz brought back big man Ekpe Udoh because of his defense and positive attitude, according to Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune. Udoh was signed by Utah last season because of his reputation as a strong defender and he lived up to that billing, posting an average of 1.2 blocks per game. He also showed a superior ability to guard on the perimeter during switches and pick-and-rolls, Jones continues. Udoh, who will serve as the team’s third center, never complained last season when his role diminished, Jones adds. Udoh had his $3.36MM salary guaranteed last month.
  • Nuggets guard Isaiah Thomas had to settle for a one-year, $2MM contract in free agency but he’s determined to be a major bargain for his new team, as he told Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports“This has been tough, but it was only a tough year because I wasn’t healthy. My job is to get as healthy as I possibly can and then show the world what I’m capable of doing,” he said.

Thunder Sign Hamidou Diallo To Three-Year Deal

JULY 27: The Thunder have officially signed Diallo, according to the league’s transactions log.

JULY 25: The Thunder have agreed to terms with second-round pick Hamidou Diallo, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, Diallo will sign a three-year, $4MM contract with Oklahoma City.

Diallo, who averaged 10.0 PPG and 3.6 RPG during his first and only season as a Kentucky Wildcat, entered the draft as an early entrant this spring and was selected 45th overall. While Diallo was technically drafted by the Nets, the No. 45 pick had already been traded twice by that point — he was ultimately sent from Brooklyn to Charlotte to OKC.

Based on the reported terms, Diallo’s first NBA contract could be a minimum-salary deal, which would work out to $3.92MM. Because it’s a three-year pact, the Thunder will have to use a small portion of their taxpayer mid-level exception to complete the signing.

Diallo’s deal will push Oklahoma City’s team salary back up to approximately $149.58MM and the club’s projected tax bill up to about $93.19MM — it will also fill OKC’s 15-man roster. The Thunder may not be done with their offseason moves, however, as Kyle Singler remains a candidate to be waived and stretched.

Thunder second-rounders Devon Hall and Kevin Hervey remain unsigned for now, as our tracker shows.

Checking In On 2018’s Unsigned Draft Picks

The 2018 NBA draft took place less than a month ago, but over three quarters over the players selected on the night of June 22 have already signed their first NBA contracts. That includes each of the 30 players picked in the first round, all of whom are now under contract.

The following players have not yet signed contracts with their new NBA teams:

  1. Detroit Pistons: Khyri Thomas, SG (Creighton)
  2. Orlando Magic: Justin Jackson, F (Maryland)
  3. Washington Wizards: Issuf Sanon, G (Olimpija Ljubljana)
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Hamidou Diallo, SG (Kentucky)
  5. Houston Rockets: De’Anthony Melton, G (USC)
  6. San Antonio Spurs: Chimezie Metu, F/C (USC)
  7. New Orleans Pelicans: Tony Carr, PG (Penn State)
  8. Oklahoma City Thunder: Devon Hall, SG (Virginia)
  9. Philadelphia 76ers: Shake Milton, G (SMU)
  10. Charlotte Hornets: Arnoldas Kulboka, SF (Capo D’Orlando)
  11. Dallas Mavericks: Ray Spalding, PF (Louisville)
  12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Hervey, SF (Texas-Arlington)
  13. Denver Nuggets: Thomas Welsh, C (UCLA)

Sanon, Carr, and Kulboka will reportedly spend the 2018/19 season overseas, so we can safely remove their names from this list — they won’t be signing NBA contracts this offseason. Welsh, meanwhile, has reportedly agreed to terms on a two-way contract with Denver, though it’s not yet official.

That leaves just nine players from 2018’s draft class who we should still expect to sign at some point. Of those nine players, the higher picks such as Thomas (Pistons), Jackson (Magic), Diallo (Thunder), and Melton (Rockets) are good bets to sign multiyear NBA contracts. Even though some of those teams have luxury-tax concerns, they’ll have to fill out their rosters somehow, and a rookie contract at or near the minimum is the best way to avoid significantly increasing their potential tax penalties.

The players selected in the 50s may be candidates for two-way deals. A year ago, no player selected between Nos. 49-60 received a standard NBA contract, with all of those players signing two-way contracts, agreeing to straight G League contracts, or heading overseas to join an international team.

[RELATED: 2018/19 NBA Two-Way Contract Tracker]

As such, players like Hall (Thunder), Milton (Sixers), Spalding (Mavericks), and Hervey (Thunder) should be considered two-way options. For now though, Dallas doesn’t have a two-way slot open, and Oklahoma City only has one, so it remains to be seen what the future holds for these late second-rounders. We should find out in the coming weeks.

Hornets Trade Hamidou Diallo To Thunder

JULY 6: The Diallo trade is now official, per a press release from the Thunder. As first reported by Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer, the Hornets receive Oklahoma City’s 2019 second-round pick and cash in the deal.

JUNE 21: The Hornets will send 45th pick Hamidou Diallo to the Thunder, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The teams can’t finalize the deal until July 6 because it involves a pick that Charlotte will receive from the Nets in the Dwight Howard trade, which also can’t be completed until that date.

Diallo, 19, was a top recruit coming out of college in 2016, but made a late commitment to Kentucky and redshirted during his first season there. He declared for the draft last year, but elected to return to college, where he averaged 10.0 points in 37 games.

There’s no word yet on what the Hornets will get in return for Diallo.

Draft Leftovers: Trade Details, R. Williams, More

When he was selected with the 45th overall pick in the draft on Thursday night, Hamidou Diallo technically became a member of the Nets. However, Brooklyn had already agreed to send that pick to the Hornets, who have subsequently agreed to flip it to the Thunder.

Neither of those trade can become official until after the July moratorium ends on July 6, but we now know what the Hornets will receive from the Thunder in exchange for Diallo. Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer reports (via Twitter) that Oklahoma City will send its 2019 second-round pick and cash considerations to Charlotte as part of the swap.

Here are a few more leftovers from draft night, including more details on trades:

  • In exchange for sending Gary Trent Jr.‘s draft rights to the Trail Blazers, the Kings will receive either the Timberwolves’ or Lakers’ 2019 second-round pick (whichever is more favorable), the Heat’s 2021 second-round pick, and cash, according to Sactown Royalty (Twitter link).
  • RealGM’s log of traded draft picks provides specific details on a couple more draft-night trades, indicating that the Sixers received 2021 and 2023 second-round picks in their deal with the Pistons, while the Magic will receive the less favorable of the Nuggets’ and Wizards’ 2019 second-round picks as a result of their swap with the Nuggets.
  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com explores how the results of this year’s draft could set up free agency and future trades, touching on the Mavericks‘ need for a center, the Sixers‘ and Lakers‘ quests to clear cap room, and the availability of Dennis Schroder.
  • Robert Williams, who went 27th overall to the Celtics, was one of the big fallers of the night. According to Jeff Goodman (Twitter links), many teams didn’t have Williams’ medical info and there was some concern about a potential knee injury, which may have been one reason why he slipped.

Draft Updates: Mavericks, Kings, Celtics, Warriors

There’s a “growing sense” that the Mavericks will scoop up Michael Porter Jr. if he’s still available at No. 5, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. He cautions that Dallas hasn’t reached a final decision, but the team likes Porter enough to take him even if he has to sit out all of next season because of back issues.

A report earlier today has the Sixers interested in moving into the top five to grab Porter, so it appears they’ll need a top four pick to trump the Mavericks. Porter also remains in contention for the Kings at No. 2.

There are more draft day rumors to pass along:

  • The Kings have narrowed their choices down to Luka Doncic and Marvin Bagley III, according to Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The team’s ownership may break the deadlock later today. Mannix adds that the Hawks will get a “stampede” of offers from teams interested in Doncic if Sacramento opts for Bagley.
  • A conflicting report from Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated states that the Kings have already reached a decision and believe they are adding a “franchise altering prospect.” (Twitter link).
  • Former NBA coach Larry Brown believes Doncic will need to land in the right situation to be successful, relays Sportando (Twitter link). “At 16 he was as good as he’s now,” said Brown, who recently accepted a job with Fiat Torino in the Italian League. “He’s smart but I don’t know in which role he can play. Maybe forward/big man. If he’d play for [Rockets coach Mike] D’Antoni or a coach with European mentality he’d be phenomenal.”
  • The Celtics are working to trade into the top five, but their chances are small unless they part with Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. The Clippers, who own the 12th and 13th selections, also want to move up and the Bucks would like to add more picks.
  • The Warriors are still hoping to buy a pick somewhere in the 30s, according to Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). They worked out a group of players yesterday who might be available in that range, including Jacob Evans, Devon Hall, Gary Trent Jr. and Hamidou Diallo. Golden State already owns the 28th pick and can spend up to the maximum $5.1MM to acquire another.
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander confirmed that he held a workout for the Clippers, relays Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). Gilgeous-Alexander admitted that he turned down a few workout requests, but didn’t specify the teams. In addition to the Clippers, the Knicks and Hornets have also watched him work out, according to Woo, who adds that Gilgeous-Alexander isn’t believed to have a promise but could be taken in the top 10 by teams that need backcourt help (Twitter link).
  • The Sixers attempted to see Donte DiVincenzo in person, but weren’t able to work out a time because of scheduling conflicts, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link).
  • Mitchell Robinson was limited by a sprained left ankle in his recent workouts, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The 7-footer expects to be fully recovered soon.

 

Hawks Working Out Jaren Jackson Jr.

The Hawks are hosting a pair of pre-draft workouts today, and one of those two sessions will be an individual workout for top prospect Jaren Jackson Jr., the team announced in a press release.

A potential top-five pick in this year’s draft, Jackson also auditioned for Phoenix recently, with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter) calling it a “monster workout.” According to Wojnarowski, clubs outside the top four are interested in moving up to snag Jackson, meaning teams with top picks like the Kings (No. 2), Hawks (No. 3), and Grizzlies (No. 4) may receive some interesting trade offers as draft day approaches.

Jackson could also simply be a fit for Atlanta. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has the Michigan State big man going to the Hawks in his most recent mock draft, writing that Jackson would be the “ideal” big man to pair with youngster John Collins. The 18-year-old has intriguing upside on both the offensive (.396 3PT%) and defensive (3.0 BPG in 21.8 MPG) ends of the floor.

In addition to Jackson, the Hawks will take a look at several prospects in a group workout today, according to the club. Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky), Trevon Duval (Duke), Isaac Haas (Purdue), Chimezie Metu (USC), Malik Newman (Kansas), and Andrew Rowsey (Marquette) are participating in that session.

Draft Updates: Bamba, Jackson Jr., Sexton, Knox

Texas center Mo Bamba got high praise from the Suns after working out for the team Saturday, relays Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. Phoenix is very likely to take another center, Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton, with the top pick, but GM Ryan McDonough believes Bamba has a bright NBA future, comparing him with Defensive Player of the Year finalist Rudy Gobert.

“At 20 years old, I think he’s ahead of where Rudy was,” McDonough said. “Now Rudy has made tremendous strides over the last three or four years. I think the question for Mo will be, can he build out his body like Rudy has? But in terms of measurements, they’re similar and in terms of willingness and desire to anchor a defense and protect the rim, they’re similar. It’s a great comp for Mo.”

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • Bamba is part of a series of top prospects the Suns are working out this week. Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr. is in town today, the team announced on its website, following appearances by Ayton and Marvin Bagley III.
  • Bamba looks like the definition of a modern NBA center and could wind up being the best player in the draft, writes Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Bamba provides size, a draft combine record 7’10” wingspan, mobility and intelligence, Givony notes, but there are questions about his physical frame after putting on 30 pounds in three years and his uneven performance in college. “Although there’s no one I really pattern my game after, I am a firm believer in stealing stuff from other people,” Bamba said. “When I sat down with [ player development specialist Drew Hanlen], we watched a lot of Jo-Jo [Joel Embiid], we watched a lot of AD [Anthony Davis]. Guys who can step out and move their feet and create their own shot offensively as a 7-footer.”
  • Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert called Collin Sexton a “very interesting prospect” after getting an up-close look at the Alabama guard during a workout Saturday, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.
  • Kentucky’s Kevin Knox and Michigan State’s Miles Bridges worked out for the Knicks on Saturday, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post“I’m the second-youngest player in the draft this year, but that doesn’t mean anything,’’ said Knox, who is still 18. “It’s not an excuse. I’m in the NBA and I put my name in the draft for a reason — because I think I’m ready. My age has nothing to do with it.’’ Also participating in the workout were SMU’s Shake Milton, Miami’s Bruce Brown , Texas Tech’s Zhaire Smith and Kentucky’s Hamidou Diallo.
  • The Jazz are hosting six players for a session today, the team announced on Twitter. Attending will be Utah’s Justin Bibbins, Purdue’s Vince Edwards, Australia’s William McDowell-White, France’s Amine Noua, Marshall’s Ajdin Penava and Lincoln Memorial’s Emanuel Terry.
  • Duke’s Grayson Allen had to pull out of today’s workout with the Hawks after suffering a minor injury during warmups, tweets Michael Cunningham of The Journal-Constitution. Also at today’s session were Creighton’s Marcus Foster, Louisville’s Anas Mahmoud, Rhode Island’s E.C. Matthews, UNLV’s Brandon McCoy and Boston College’s Jerome Robinson.
  • The Hornets will host their sixth pre-draft workout Monday with Southeastern Louisiana’s Jordan Capps, Notre Dame’s Matt Farrell, Mercer’s Ria’n Holland, Xavier’s J.P. Macura, Illinois-Chicago’s Tai Odiase and Queens College’s Todd Winters scheduled to attend.