Isaiah Roby

Texas Notes: Roby, Bates-Diop, Fernando, Silas

Forward Isaiah Roby has been a fan of the Spurs‘ organization since childhood, reports Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. After the fourth-year power forward was waived by the Thunder over the summer, San Antonio claimed him off waivers.

“[The Spurs] were the team my grandpa really liked watching,” the Dixon, Illinois native said. “… Ever since then, I’ve had an interest in the Spurs and the way they play basketball.”

Roby was initially drafted with the No. 45 pick out of Nebraska by the Pistons. The Mavericks traded for his draft rights later that summer. He suited up for the team’s G League affiliate, the Texas Legends, before being flipped to the Thunder in January 2020. He averaged 10.1 PPG on .514/.444/.672 shooting splits in 45 games during his 2021/22 season with Oklahoma City. The 6’8″ forward also contributed 4.8 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.8 SPG and 0.8 BPG.

According to McDonald, Roby was apparently surprised to be waived by the Thunder during the offseason. In San Antonio, he joins another rebuilding effort that features plenty of intriguing young prospects, with presumably more to come in the next few seasons. The Spurs have liked what they’ve seen from Roby so far.

“He is really more skilled than I was expecting, and he’s a little bigger than I expected,” head coach Gregg Popovich observed. “He handles himself really well.”

There’s more out of the Lone Star State:

  • Spurs forward Keita Bates-Diop is in the running for the last open spot on San Antonio’s standard 15-man roster, having turned in solid performances in two preseason games as a starter, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. McDonald notes that Bates-Diop may start tonight against the Pelicans in the team’s third preseason contest after averaging 9.5 PPG in the first two. “His game improves with every increase in his confidence,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “That’s why he’s still here.” Though Bates-Diop may not ultimately start for the Spurs, McDonald predicts he’ll remain in San Antonio through opening night, thus guaranteeing he gets paid his full $1.9MM salary. “Whether you just signed a new deal or you’re on a one-year or whatever it is, you should always feel like you’re battling for it,” Bates-Diop said. “You don’t want to get too comfortable.”
  • The Rockets front office is excited about the fit of 6’9″ fourth-year center Bruno Fernando as a rim-runner, per Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link). Iko notes that Fernando becoming a lob threat will open up the downhill offensive games of starting guards Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green.
  • Rockets head coach Stephen Silas has yet to clear the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, reports Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston (Twitter link). Berman adds (Twitter link) that assistant coach John Lucas, acting as the team’s head coach while Silas remains ill, has expressed optimism that Silas will clear protocols and be able to travel later to join the team in Miami for its next preseason game.

Rockets Notes: Frontcourt, Tate, Gordon, Martin

Whether or not they hang onto Boban Marjanovic, the Rockets would like to add one more big man to their roster, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, who says the club may use a two-way contract slot to add more depth up front. Trevor Hudgins currently occupies one of Houston’s two-way slots, but the other is empty.

Iko names Moses Brown, Freddie Gillespie, Bruno Fernando, and Mfiondu Kabengele as players who could be of interest to the Rockets as they look to add another frontcourt player.

According to Iko, Houston had some interest in Isaiah Roby after he was waived by Oklahoma City, but the Spurs ultimately claimed him off waivers. The Rockets were ahead of San Antonio in the waiver order and had a trade exception available to claim Roby, but they already have 18 players on guaranteed contracts for 15 spots, so they likely weren’t eager to bring in another.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • The $500K annual bonus in Jae’Sean Tate‘s new three-year contract are tied to the Rockets winning at least 35 games, Iko reports. So Tate would earn an extra $1.5MM if Houston wins 35 or more games in each of the next three seasons.
  • The Rockets were close to trading Eric Gordon on draft night, possibly to the Sixers, but the deal fell apart, according to Iko, who says the Heat, Bucks, and Suns also pursued Gordon before the draft. Sources tell The Athletic that Philadelphia re-engaged Houston on the veteran shooting guard at the start of free agency, but there’s certainly no guarantee he’ll be moved before the season begins.
  • The Rockets aren’t in any rush to trade Kenyon Martin Jr. either, says Iko, noting that Martin may “need to mend some internal relationships” if a trade doesn’t materialize and he remains in Houston.

Spurs Claim Isaiah Roby Off Waivers

The Spurs have used a waiver claim to add Isaiah Roby to their roster, a source tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein was the first to report (via Twitter) that there was a “strong expectation leaguewide” that Roby would be claimed on the waiver wire.

As Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report previously noted, Roby earned more than the minimum salary in the first year of his four-year contract with the Thunder, so the Spurs will have to use some of their cap space to absorb his $1,930,681 salary for 2022/23. Waivers claims are rare for non-minimum players, but Roby has shown some promise, so San Antonio will be taking a relatively cheap flier on him contributing next season.

In his third season with the Thunder in ’21/22, the 6’8″ Roby averaged a career-best 10.1 PPG along with 4.8 RPG on .514/.444/.672 shooting in 45 games (21.1 MPG). Oklahoma City had previously picked up his club option, but then the Thunder waived him before his contract would have become fully guaranteed. Because his salary guarantee deadline was July 3, his $1.93MM will now be fully guaranteed.

The Spurs recently agreed to sign Gorgui Dieng and now added Roby, so clearly adding frontcourt depth was a priority with their final roster spots. Once all of San Antonio’s first-round picks are signed to their rookie deals (only Blake Wesley has been signed thus far, but the other two should be formalities), the Spurs will tentatively have a full 15-man roster.

Even accounting for the new additions, the Spurs still have well over $30MM in cap room this offseason, so they have plenty of options to work with going forward.

Contract Notes: Konchar, Roby, Landale

John Konchar‘s contract with the Grizzlies called for his $2.3MM salary for 2022/23 to become guaranteed if he remained on the roster through Sunday, and there has been no reporting indicating that he and the team agreed to move that date back. As such, we’re assuming Konchar’s salary for ’22/23 is now locked in.

If that’s the case, it doesn’t come as a surprise. Konchar was a solid role player for the Grizzlies in 2021/22, averaging 4.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 1.5 APG with a .413 3PT in 72 games (17.9 MPG). His salary is relatively modest and he had already been owed a partial guarantee of $840K.

Konchar is one of many players on non-guaranteed contracts for 2022/23 whose salaries will become guaranteed this summer if they’re retained through certain dates. We’re tracking all of those players and decisions right here.

Here are a few more contract notes from around the NBA:

  • Although Isaiah Roby was earning a minimum salary ($1,930,681) when he was waived by the Thunder on Sunday, he had been on a four-year contract that was worth more than the minimum in year one, which means any team interested in claiming him off waivers can’t use the minimum salary exception to do so, as Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report tweets. A club that wants to put a claim in on Roby would need the cap space to absorb his salary or a trade exception worth at least $1,830,681. Waivers claims are rare for non-minimum players, but Roby showed promise in Oklahoma City last season and could draw some interest.
  • Jock Landale‘s non-guaranteed minimum salary became partially guaranteed for $46,120 when he was traded from San Antonio to Atlanta last week, Hoops Rumors has learned. That was the exact amount that needed to be guaranteed for salary-matching purposes, as Landale’s $46,120 was added to Dejounte Murray‘s 2021/22 cap hit ($15,428,880) to get to within $5MM of Danilo Gallinari‘s incoming $20,475,000 figure (it was also partially guaranteed, but San Antonio needed to be able to match the whole incoming amount). The Hawks have since agreed to flip Landale to the Suns, and it doesn’t appear his partial guarantee will increase any further in that trade, since no salary-matching is involved.
  • In case you missed it, we relayed earlier today that Otto Porter‘s new deal with the Raptors is worth $12.4MM over two years. We’ll get more info on the specific details of contracts like Porter’s and many others beginning later this week, when the July moratorium lifts and those signings start becoming official.

Thunder Waive Isaiah Roby

The Thunder have waived big man Isaiah Roby, the team announced. Roby’s $1.9MM contract would’ve become fully guaranteed if he wasn’t waived today.

[RELATED: Early NBA Salary Guarantee Dates For 2022/23]

Roby has spent the better part of three seasons with Oklahoma City since being acquired from Dallas midway through his rookie year in 2020. He appeared in 45 games last season, averaging 10.1 points and 4.8 rebounds in 21.1 minutes per contest. He also shot an efficient 51.4% from the floor.

Assuming he clears waivers on Tueday, Roby should receive interest as a free agent, as he’s only 24 years old.

He appeared in 109 total games with Oklahoma City, holding career averages of 9.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists per contest. The Thunder are coming off a season in which they finished with the league’s fourth-worst record at 24-58.

Thunder Decline Muscala’s Team Option, Pick Up Roby’s

The Thunder have declined their 2022/23 team option on Mike Muscala and exercised their option on Isaiah Roby, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype and Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter links).

Muscala’s option was worth $3.5MM and declining it makes him an unrestricted free agent. Roby’s $1,930,681 contract for next season is currently non-guaranteed, but will become fully guaranteed on July 3, per Smith.

Muscala, 30, had arguably the best season of his nine-year career in ’21/22, averaging 8 PPG and 3 RPG on .456/.429/.842 shooting in 43 games. While those figures are relatively modest, he averaged just 13.8 MPG, so he was quite productive on a per-minute basis.

Ankle surgery in March ended Muscala’s season prematurely, which is why he only appeared in 43 contests last season. Teams looking for a reserve big man capable of making three-pointers (37.7% career) could do worse than Muscala, who will likely be pretty affordable.

In his third season with Oklahoma City, the 6’8″ Roby averaged a career-best 10.1 PPG along with 4.8 RPG on .514/.444/.672 shooting in 45 games (21.1 MPG).

His season was a study in halves, as Roby rarely saw action before the All-Star break (22 games, 15.1 MPG) and spent time in the G League. In the second half of the season when most of the Thunder’s roster was decimated by injuries, Roby averaged 13.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1 SPG and 1 BPG in 23 games, including 20 starts (26.8 MPG).

Northwest Notes: Jokic, Roby, Micić, Beverley

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic appears to be the favorite as the MVP race enters the home stretch, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. In its latest straw poll of 100 media members, the network found 62 first-place votes and 860 overall points for Jokic, putting him ahead of the SixersJoel Embiid, who had 29 first-place votes and 719 points, and the Bucks‘ Giannis Antetokounmpo with nine first-place votes and 593 points.

Bontemps notes that the race appears similar to last year’s when Jokic built late momentum to capture his first MVP award. ESPN’s previous poll, taken in mid-February, showed Embiid with a slight advantage.

Jokic’s statistics are nearly identical to last season as he’s averaging 26.3 points and 8.0 assists to go with a career-high 13.6 rebounds per game. He has kept Denver in the playoff race despite injuries to Jamal Murray and Michael Porter, but his candidacy could suffer if the Nuggets fall into the play-in tournament. They’re currently in sixth, two games ahead of seventh-place Minnesota.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Thunder fans may not have wanted to win Monday’s game at Portland, but Isaiah Roby did, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. With Oklahoma City locked in a tight lottery race and having only had eight available players, all of whom started in the G League this season, Roby delivered a career-high 30 points, including a clutch shot that sent the game into overtime. “With the amount of talent that we have out, nobody’s counting on us to win any games,” Roby said. “The fact that we’re going out competing against playoff teams (Denver on Sunday) and we’re winning games like tonight, that’s very encouraging. I’m just proud of the guys. Proud of the eight guys we had out there tonight.” 
  • Vasilije Micić, whose rights are owned by the Thunder, is only interested in coming to the NBA if he believes he’ll get regular playing time, according to Eurohoops. The 28-year-old signed a three-year extension with Anadolu Efes last summer that contains an escape clause after each season. “Honestly, I have a desire to go to the NBA,” he said. “But in a way, and I told that to the people from Oklahoma, to actually play there. I don’t see myself going there to tell my neighborhood friends that I was in the NBA and bring them back an OKC jersey. That doesn’t inspire me. I also came to Efes when they were at the bottom, and I had offers of some, perhaps, better-standing names.”
  • Patrick Beverley has completely changed the culture surrounding the Timberwolves since arriving in an offseason trade, states Cole Huff of The Athletic, who adds that the veteran guard has inspired toughness everywhere he’s been in his NBA career.

COVID-19 Updates: White, Green, McLaughlin, Roby, Azubuike

Spurs guard Derrick White exited the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols last night, per Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). White suited up for San Antonio and logged 25 minutes off the bench in an eventual 101-94 victory over the Clippers on Saturday.

The 6’4″ combo guard out of Colorado shot 7-of-11 from the field and 2-of-4 from the free-throw line for a total of 19 points in the victory. He also chipped in four assists, four rebounds, a steal and three blocks. White is currently averaging 14.6 PPG, 5.4 APG and 3.5 RPG during his sixth NBA season with the 16-27 Spurs.

Here are more COVID-19 updates from around the NBA:

  • Nuggets reserve power forward JaMychal Green has entered the league’s COVID-19 protocols, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The 31-year-old veteran is averaging 5.7 PPG and 3.7 RPG across 35 contests with the Jazz during the 2021/22 NBA season.
  • Timberwolves reserve point guard Jordan McLaughlin has entered the league’s coronavirus protocols and will be unavailable for Minnesota ahead of today’s contest against the Warriors, according to Minnesota’s PR team (Twitter link).
  • Thunder power forward Isaiah Roby has exited the NBA’s health and safety protocols, according to Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman (via Twitter). The 6’8″ big man was available to play in yesterday’s 107-102 loss to the Cavaliers, though he was ultimately a DNP – CD.
  • Jazz center Udoka Azubuike has cleared the protocols, tweets Ryan Miller of KSL.com. The 22-year-old seven-footer has appeared sparingly for Utah thus far this season, suiting up for just six games.

COVID-19 Updates: Hachimura, Roby, Grizzlies, Bucks, Robsinon, Suns, Nance, Hawks

Wizards power forward Rui Hachimura has exited the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, though an exact timeline for his return to the court has yet to be determined, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Hachimura, 23, has missed the entirety of the Wizards’ 37-game 2021/22 NBA season thus far, due to a combination of an extended personal absence and subsequently his stint in the protocols. The 6’8″ big man is averaging 13.7 PPG and 5.8 RPG across his two seasons with Washington thus far.

Here are more protocol-related updates from across the league:

  • Young Thunder reserve center Isaiah Roby has entered the NBA’s coronavirus health and safety protocols, per Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman (Twitter link).
  • Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks and guard De’Anthony Melton have cleared the NBA’s coronavirus protocols but remain questionable ahead of tomorrow’s game against the Pistons as they continue to re-condition, while forward Kyle Anderson has also cleared protocols but will most likely not play due to back soreness, according to Memphis’s PR team (Twitter link).
  • Bucks forwards Jordan Nwora, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and Semi Ojeleye have exited the league’s COVID-19 protocols and are available for a short-handed Milwaukee team tonight against the Raptors, per Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). We first mentioned earlier today that that triumvirate of Bucks players was nearing a return. Through the game’s first half, Nwora is the only one of the three that has played.
  • $90MM Heat shooting guard Duncan Robinson has exited the NBA’s coronavirus protocols and will reunite with the team in Portland ahead of its game against the Trail Blazers tonight, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The team has announced that Robinson will play (Twitter link).
  • Suns centers Deandre Ayton and JaVale McGee, along with starting power forward Jae Crowder, have all cleared COVID-19 health and safety protocols but will remain sidelined for Thursday’s home contest against the Clippers as they work their way back into game shape, reports Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic.
  • Trail Blazers forward Larry Nance Jr. has cleared the league’s coronavirus protocols and will be available to play tonight against the Kings, per Aaron J. Fentress of the Oregonian (Twitter link). We had first noted earlier today that Nance had registered an inconclusive COVID-19 test and that a quick return was a possibility.
  • Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic and small forward Jalen Johnson have exited health and safety protocols, writes Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Spencer says the two players are expected to consult with Atlanta’s medical staff in Los Angeles ahead of the team’s games against the Lakers and Clippers on Friday and Sunday. Spencer adds that Johnson struggled a bit with the coronavirus and could need additional conditioning time.

Thunder Notes: Roby, Watson, Deck, Player Development

After playing a regular role for the Thunder in 2020/21, Isaiah Roby has been one of the odd men out of the frontcourt rotation so far this season, appearing in just 10 of the team’s first 20 games. However, with Derrick Favors and Kenrich Williams unavailable on Monday, Roby logged a season-high 27 minutes. He put up 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting and was a plus-five in a game the Thunder lost by 13 points.

As Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes, Roby has accepted his reduced role, telling reporters on Monday that he understands it and is just doing his best to stay ready. While Roby made a case for more playing time on Monday, head coach Mark Daigneault said there are still some things he wants to see from the forward on a consistent basis before reinserting him into the rotation.

“The things we’ve talked about is his rim protection and pick-and-roll coverage, which I thought was good at times (on Monday),” Daigneault said. “And then offensively just kinda being a floor-spacing, ball-moving, drive-and-kick player.”

The Thunder can make Roby a free agent in 2022 by turning down the team option on his minimum-salary contract, so if he continues to play limited minutes going forward, it’s possible his days in Oklahoma City are numbered.

Here’s more out of OKC:

  • Paul Watson, who is on a two-way contract, made his Thunder debut on Monday. Oklahoma City is a young team and two-way deals are typically reserved for younger players, so the choice to fill one of the club’s two-way slots with Watson (27 next month) is somewhat unusual. “You can’t develop 10 20-year-olds at the same time,” Daigneault explained, per Mussatto. “You’ve gotta have a level of functionality and allow people to develop in context. Otherwise you’re just kinda rolling the balls out and just hoping that the experiences are just adding up.”
  • Here’s more from Daigneault on the Thunder’s rebuild and the decision to try to develop players like Watson and 26-year-old Gabriel Deck: “It’s not a requirement moving forward that all of our players have to be 22. We have to continue to mine for opportunities with everybody.”
  • Having played in just five games with the Thunder this season, Deck has been assigned to the G League to get him more playing time, tweets Mussatto. The Argentine forward is a EuroLeague veteran, but has appeared in just 15 NBA contests since arriving in Oklahoma City late last season.