Isaiah Hartenstein

Latest Salary Guarantees: D. Lee, Reed, Hartenstein, Sykes, M. Thomas

Warriors swingman Damion Lee will have the rest of his 2021/22 salary guaranteed, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). The news doesn’t come as a surprise, as Lee has been with Golden State for four seasons and has been part of the regular rotation for three of those.

Lee, who will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, will now have his $1,910,860 cap hit for ’21/22 locked in. The Warriors are also guaranteeing Gary Payton II’s rest-of-season salary, so the team won’t have create any new openings on its 15-man roster.

Here are more updates on players who are affected by today’s salary guarantee deadline:

  • The Sixers will keep Paul Reed through the deadline, guaranteeing his salary, tweets Scotto. Reed, who is earning $1,517,981 in 2021/22, also has a non-guaranteed minimum salary for next season before he becomes eligible for restricted free agency in 2023. The 6’9″ forward has averaged 2.3 PPG and 2.4 RPG in 19 games (9.4 MPG) for Philadelphia in his second NBA season.
  • Clippers center Isaiah Hartenstein will have his full-season salary guaranteed, per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). Hartenstein, earning $1,729,217, was always one of the safer bets to survive the salary guarantee deadline, since he played a key role in L.A.’s frontcourt, putting up 7.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.9 APG, and 1.3 BPG in just 16.4 MPG (29 games).
  • After recently signing a two-year contract with the Pacers, Keifer Sykes will have his rest-of-season salary guaranteed, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Sykes, who made a strong impression in the G League, is off to a strong start at the NBA level too, averaging 10.4 PPG and 3.6 APG in his first five games (26.8 MPG). Since he didn’t sign until December 27, Sykes’ prorated rookie-minimum salary is worth just $558,345.
  • The Bulls will hang onto sharpshooter Matt Thomas, guaranteeing his minimum-salary contract for 2021/22, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Thomas has only appeared in 13 games for Chicago and his three-point rate (34.6%) is well below his career rate (40.5%), but the team apparently values his ability to stretch the floor. He’ll make $1,669,178 this season before becoming eligible for restricted free agency. The Bulls will also have to make a decision today on Alfonzo McKinnie‘s non-guaranteed contract.

Los Angeles Notes: Hartenstein, Clippers Bench, Anthony, James

Isaiah Hartenstein won a training camp battle with Harry Giles for the last spot on the Clippers roster and has emerged as a solid reserve, Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register writes.

Hartenstein has averaged 7.3 PPG and 4.3 RPG in 15.3 MPG through three appearances and has developed chemistry with Clippers wing Luke Kennard. “I think we just really know how to play with each other,” said Hartenstein, who is on a one-year, minimum-salary contract.

We have more from the Los Angeles teams:

  • Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said that Hartenstein, Kennard and Terance Mann learned how to blend their talents during training camp, Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times writes. “They understand their unit, how they play,” Lue said. “Move bodies, move the basketball.” Kennard is averaging 11.5 PPG and Mann is averaging 8.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 3.5 APG.
  • LeBron James said the league missed the boat on new Lakers teammate Carmelo Anthony, Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. Anthony struggled to find another NBA opportunity until he hooked on with Portland during the 2019/20 season. “He’s been doing it for quite a while, and it’s just beautiful to continue to see, especially when, you know, they gave up on him,” James said. Anthony, who signed a veteran’s minimum contract this summer, had a 28-point game on Sunday and is averaging 14.0 PPG so far with his new team.
  • James is questionable to play on Friday due to right ankle soreness, McMenamin tweets. He has missed the last two games after playing 40 minutes on Sunday. Rajon Rondo has also been listed as questionable due to a similar injury, McMenamin adds.

Pacific Notes: Bradley, Bagley, Hartenstein, Lakers

Warriors stars Stephen Curry and Draymond Green had been in favor of keeping Avery Bradley on the team’s roster to open the regular season, sources tell Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. As Thompson notes, Bradley didn’t have a great preseason for Golden State, but the team’s veterans liked the fact that he has significant playoff experience.

According to Thompson, there was even a sense from some people within the organization that Bradley could be a good fit in the Warriors’ starting lineup until Klay Thompson returns, since he’d be capable of handling tougher defensive assignments that Jordan Poole may not be ready for. With Poole in the starting lineup, it might fall to Curry to defend an opponent’s top guard.

Rather than hanging onto Bradley, the Warriors appear set to open the regular season with an open 15th roster spot. However, the team could choose to fill that opening at any time.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • League sources confirm to Marc Stein of Substack (Twitter link) that no rookie scale extension is expected for Kings big man Marvin Bagley III today. That comes as no surprise, given that Bagley has been the subject of trade rumors and has been limited to 56 games over the last two seasons due to foot and hand injuries.
  • The Clippers liked what they saw in camp from Harry Giles, whom Tyronn Lue referred to as “definitely an NBA player,” but they believed Isaiah Hartenstein is a better fit for their roster, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. “He did a good job, he played well, kind of came in and fit in right away with his passing and being able to get guys shots and backdoor cuts for layups and things like that,” Lue said of Hartenstein, who beat out Giles for the 15th spot on the opening-night roster.
  • It remains a mystery which two players will start for the Lakers alongside LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook on opening night on Tuesday. Head coach Frank Vogel told reporters today that he has made a decision, but doesn’t want to disclose it yet (Twitter link via Jovan Buha of The Athletic).

Clippers Waive Harry Giles

The Clippers have waived big man Harry Giles, the team announced today. The move allows center Isaiah Hartenstein to make the 15-man roster, as both players were competing for the club’s final roster spot on non-guaranteed training camp deals.

Giles, 23, was drafted with the No. 20 pick in 2017. He’s held brief stints with the Kings, Blazers and Clippers since then, averaging 5.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 12.9 minutes for his career.

Hartenstein, also 23, is expected to add depth behind Ivica Zubac and Serge Ibaka in the Clippers’ frontcourt this season. He appeared in 16 games with the Cavaliers last season, scoring 8.3 points and grabbing six rebounds per contest.

“Excited. It’s been great so far,” Hartenstein said, adding that he learned of the move today (hat tip Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times. “I love the organization so far.”

The Clippers open the season on the road against Golden State on Thursday. Los Angeles will start the campaign without Kawhi Leonard (partial ACL tear rehab), who still doesn’t have a timeline for his return.

L.A. Notes: Vaccine Mandate, Clippers’ 15th Man, Lakers, Gasol

New York and San Francisco won’t be the only NBA cities with local COVID-19 vaccine mandates in place this season. According to Christopher Weber of The Associated Press, the Los Angeles City Council voted on Wednesday to approve one of the country’s strictest vaccine mandates. The ordinance will bar unvaccinated individuals from many indoor venues – including sports arenas – unless they receive a medical or religious exemption.

According to Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link), L.A.’s vaccine mandate – which goes into effect in November – will include the same non-resident performer exemption that is included in New York’s and San Francisco’s executive orders. That means, for NBA purposes, the mandate will apply to players on the Lakers and Clippers, but not to visiting players.

Fortunately for the two Los Angeles teams, no players currently on their rosters appears likely to be impacted. Both the Lakers and Clippers indicated during training camp last week that their rosters will be fully vaccinated for the start of the 2021/22 season. Still, the mandate is worth keeping in mind when the L.A. clubs are signing free agents or considering potential trades.

Here’s more out of Los Angeles:

  • Big men Isaiah Hartenstein and Harry Giles, who are with the Clippers on non-guaranteed contracts, are fighting to earn the team’s final roster spot, and head coach Tyronn Lue has made it clear what he wants to see from them, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. “Defensively, (are) they able to pick up our defense foundation and what we’re trying to do, being in the right spots, being a rim protector?” Lue said on Wednesday. “And offensively just being able to roll, get to the dunker (spot), understand what we’re trying to do offensively, and be able to execute. I think it’s our biggest thing.”
  • Lakers head coach Frank Vogel would like to settle on a starting lineup for the regular season and not change it from game to game, tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Finding that starting five remains a work in progress, with Trevor Ariza‘s ankle injury taking one option off the table.
  • Now that Pau Gasol has officially retired, the Lakers confirmed this week that they intend to retire his No. 16 jersey, tweets Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. The team has yet to announce when that ceremony will take place.
  • The Lakers are no longer suffering from the post-bubble burnout they experienced last season after such a quick turnaround between their 2020 championship and subsequent training camp, Goon writes for The Orange County Register. “There isn’t that ‘I can’t believe we’re starting training camp already’ cloud over us (now),” Vogel said. “That was real and it stayed with us throughout the year.”

Isaiah Hartenstein Signs With Clippers

SEPTEMBER 15: Hartenstein’s deal with the Clippers became official on Monday, according to RealGM’s transactions log.

SEPTEMBER 11: The Clippers have agreed on a training camp deal with free agent center Isaiah Hartenstein, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Hartenstein, 23, split last season between the Nuggets and Cavaliers, averaging career-best numbers with 8.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 16 games with Cleveland after being acquired at the trade deadline.

He had a player option worth about $1.76MM for next season, but turned it down and opted for free agency instead. Cleveland decided against issuing him a qualifying offer, leaving him unrestricted.

The Trail Blazers, Thunder and Nets were among the teams that reportedly expressed interest in Hartenstein, and the Cavaliers were believed to be open to bringing him back.

The Clippers have 14 guaranteed contracts heading into training camp and one of their two-way slots still open, so Hartenstein will have a couple of avenues to win a roster spot.

Scotto’s Latest: Blazers, Beasley, Patterson, Ennis, More

The Trail Blazers have 13 players with guaranteed contracts on their roster and have added Dennis Smith Jr. and Marquese Chriss on non-guaranteed deals to vie for one of the team’s open roster spots. However, that competition may end up including more veterans than just Smith and Chriss.

According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, the Trail Blazers are eyeing other free agent forwards as possible training camp invitees. Michael Beasley, who played for Portland’ Summer League team, is one possibility. The club is also eyeing veteran stretch four Patrick Patterson, says Scotto.

The Blazers still only have 16 players under contract, which means there are four more spots available on their 20-man offseason roster.

As we wait to see how Portland fills those openings, here are a few more items of interest from Scotto:

  • Having previously identified the Bulls as one team interested in free agent wing James Ennis, Scotto adds a few more clubs to that list, suggesting that Ennis has also drawn interest from the Trail Blazers, Lakers, and Magic. Ennis, who has spent most of the last two seasons in Orlando, knocked down 43.3% of his three-point attempts in 2020/21.
  • Another player who has received interest from the Trail Blazers is big man Isaiah Hartenstein, according to Scotto, who says the Clippers have kicked the tires on the former Cav as well. As I detailed on Tuesday, Hartenstein is the only player who is still a free agent after declining an option earlier this summer.
  • Before he signed with Chicago, Alize Johnson generated interest from a handful of other teams, including the Clippers, Suns, and Knicks, per Scotto. If the Clippers had wanted Johnson badly enough, they could’ve claimed him off waivers using one of their trade exceptions, which wasn’t an option for Phoenix or New York.

How Players Who Declined Options Fared In Free Agency

Of the 16 veterans who had player options on their contracts for the 2021/22 season, seven picked up those options, forgoing free agency for another year of security. However, that leaves nine players who opted out and reached the free agent market.

For some players, that decision was an easy one. For instance, Norman Powell was long believed to be in line for a multiyear deal in the range of $15-20MM per year, so exercising his $11.6MM player option never would’ve made any sense.

The decision wasn’t so easy for every player who opted out though. Now that we’re five weeks into free agency, we want to look back on those decisions to see if they paid off for the nine players who opted out.

Let’s dive in…

The biggest wins:

  • Kawhi Leonard
    • Option: $36,016,200 (Clippers)
    • New contract: Four years, $176,265,152 (Clippers)
  • Norman Powell
    • Option: $11,615,328 (Trail Blazers)
    • New contract: Five years, $90,000,000 (Trail Blazers)
  • Spencer Dinwiddie
    • Option: $12,302,496 (Nets)
    • New contract: Three years, $54,000,000 (Wizards)
      • Note: Deal includes $8MM in incentives; third year partially guaranteed.

Leonard, Powell, and Dinwiddie all secured raises for the 2021/22 season and increased their overall guarantees exponentially. Leonard tacked on an extra $140MM in guaranteed money, while Powell’s new overall guarantee is nearly eight times more than his option salary.

Dinwiddie’s new contract isn’t quite as favorable as the other two, but it’s still a major win for a player who missed nearly the entire 2020/21 season due to an ACL tear. Even in a worst-case scenario, Dinwiddie will earn $45MM in guaranteed money. He can ensure his third-year salary becomes fully guaranteed by appearing in at least 50 games in each of the next two seasons, and he has the ability to earn even more in incentives.

A solid win:

  • Chris Paul
    • Option: $44,211,146 (Suns)
    • New contract: Four years, $120,000,000 (Suns)
      • Note: Deal includes $75MM in guaranteed money. Third year is partially guaranteed; fourth year is non-guaranteed.

If you want to move Paul to the “biggest wins” group, I wouldn’t argue with that. After all, he increased his overall guarantee by more than $30MM, which is no small feat for a player hitting free agency at age 36.

I’m separating him into his own group because his 2021/22 salary was reduced by more than $13MM as part of his new deal, and I think it’s possible he could’ve gotten more than $30MM in guaranteed money on his next deal if he had simply picked up his option and hit free agency next year.

I certainly don’t blame him for going this route though, given his injury history. And if he continues to play at a high level, the Suns will probably want to keep him for the third year of the deal, which would increase his overall guarantee on this contract to $90MM.

Minor wins:

  • Will Barton
    • Option: $14,669,642 (Nuggets)
    • New contract: Two years, $30,000,000 (Nuggets)
      • Note: Deal includes $2MM in incentives.
  • JaMychal Green
    • Option: $7,559,748 (Nuggets)
    • New contract: Two years, $16,400,000 (Nuggets)
      • Note: Deal includes $400K in incentives.
  • Bobby Portis
    • Option: $3,804,150 (Bucks)
    • New contract: Two years, $8,912,580 (Bucks)
  • Bryn Forbes
    • Option: $2,454,002 (Bucks)
    • New contract: One year, $4,500,000 (Spurs)

The Nuggets took a similar approach to their negotiations with Barton and Green — Denver gave each player a small raise this year, plus a second guaranteed season (Green’s second year is a player option).

The Bucks went that route with Portis too, giving him the biggest raise they could offer using his Non-Bird rights and including a second-year player option on his new deal.

You could make a case that Forbes is a big winner for nearly doubling his 2021/22 salary, but without any future years tacked onto that deal (and given the relatively small salaries involved), I’m classifying it as a modest victory.

The jury’s still out:

Hartenstein is the only one of these nine players who remains unsigned. Based on his solid play with the Cavs down the stretch, turning down his minimum-salary player option seemed like a reasonable bet at the time, but it now looks like he might’ve been better off taking the guaranteed money.

While he’ll probably be signed at some point in the coming weeks, Hartenstein isn’t a lock for a fully guaranteed deal. And even if he gets a guaranteed one-year, minimum-salary contract, it’ll be worth slightly less ($1,729,217) than the option he declined, due to the league’s minimum-salary rules.

Nets Have Interest In Hartenstein, Love

The Nets are interested in signing free agent center Isaiah Hartenstein and would also be interested in Kevin Love if the Cavaliers buy him out, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

Hartenstein became an unrestricted free agent when he declined a minimum-salary player option and the Cavaliers subsequently didn’t submit a qualifying offer to him. He was traded last season by Denver to Cleveland, where he averaged 8.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 1.2 BPG in 17.9 MPG.

The Nets and Cavs were among the teams who watched Hartenstein work out in Las Vegas this month.

Love and the Cavs have reportedly made some progress toward a buyout, but are not close to finalizing an agreement.

In any instance, Brooklyn would need to open up a roster spot to fit in Hartenstein and/or Love. The most likely candidate to go is center DeAndre Jordan, who could be bought out, waived, or possibly traded if the Nets are willing to attach an asset. Forward Alize Johnson, who has a non-guaranteed deal, is another possibility. The date for a partial guarantee of $200K on Johnson’s contract has been pushed back from September 4 to October 19, when the regular season begins, according to Lewis.

Cavs Rumors: Valentine, Reddish, Hartenstein, Kabengele

The Cavaliers remain on the hunt for a wing who can play rotation minutes, according to Chris Fedor of, who reports that Denzel Valentine is among the free agents drawing interest from the team.

Valentine, 27, spent the first five years of his NBA career in Chicago. He had a promising 2017/18 season (10.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3.2 APG, .386 3PT%), but missed all of the ’18/19 campaign due to an ankle injury and has provided inconsistent production since then.

Here’s more on the Cavaliers from Fedor:

  • The Cavs have interest in adding a third point guard and/or a backup center. However, Fedor believes addressing the wing remains Cleveland’s top priority — the point guard spot would be next, followed by the five.
  • The Cavs have been exploring the trade market as they search for another wing, but appear unwilling to part with a first-round pick – even if it’s protected – for any of the currently-available options, Fedor writes. The club has been in contact with the Hawks about Cam Reddish, Fedor adds.
  • Sources tell that the door remains open for free agent center Isaiah Hartenstein to re-sign with the Cavs. Assistant GM Mike Gansey watched Hartenstein work out for teams in Las Vegas, according to Fedor, who says the Thunder, Clippers, and Nets also had reps in attendance. If the Cavs were to sign Hartenstein or another center, Mfiondu Kabengele‘s roster spot would be in jeopardy, Fedor notes.