Isaiah Thomas

Wizards Notes: Beal, Thomas, Thorn, Tanking

Bradley Beal has an important financial decision to make, but the Wizards star insists that money won’t be the deciding factor, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. The front office gave Beal a $111MM extension offer more than two months ago. He hasn’t signed it and hasn’t made a decision on whether he wants to remain in Washington long term. At Media Day, he told reporters that the chance to be on a contender will matter more than the size of the deal.

“I can really retire today and be OK. … So, I want everybody to understand, it’s not the money,” Beal said. “It’s not the money factor here. It’s me. It’s, OK, what’s the direction the team’s going in? Are we gonna win? Is this what we want? We know that this is probably gonna be a development year. It’s gonna be one of those types of years. So, does Bradley Beal wanna be a part of that ultimately? And that’s something I have to ask myself and something I’m probably still not done asking myself. So, I’m gonna use all my time until I can.”

October 21 is the deadline for Beal to accept the current deal, but turning it down won’t signal the end of his time with the Wizards. He will be eligible for a longer, more lucrative deal as a free agent in 2021, and an All-NBA nod would qualify him for a super-max contract that could reach up to $250MM over five years.

There’s more from D.C. on the first day of camp:

  • A lot of contenders would like to find a way to add Beal this season, notes John Hollinger of The Athletic. The former Grizzlies executive writes that swapping newly signed D’Angelo Russell for Beal is a “dream scenario” for the Warriors. He mentions the Lakers, Raptors, Nuggets and Celtics as teams that would also be interested if Beal becomes available.
  • Isaiah Thomas is trying to laugh off his latest injury, a torn ligament in his left thumb that will force him to miss the entire preseason, according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. It’s the latest in a series of physical mishaps for Thomas since his last All-Star appearance in 2016/17. “I was in there laughing because I’m like: ‘Damn. It’s always something,’” Thomas said. “But at the end of the day, this won’t break me. I’ve been through way worse.”
  • Rod Thorn, who has more than 40 years of experience as an NBA executive, will serve as a senior advisor to GM Tommy Sheppard, Buckner tweets.
  • With John Wall possibly out for the entire season and a roster filled with young players, the Wizards are in a perfect position to tank, observes Sean Deveney of Heavy. “Keeping (Wall) out, trying to see if you can find a diamond in the rough by playing a bunch of non-guaranteed (contract) guys, that’s the way they have to go,” a rival executive said. “It’s tanking, but you can’t blame them.”

Wizards Notes: Injuries, Wall, Starters, Wagner

The Wizards will open training camp with several important players sidelined, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. John Wall, who may miss the entire season with a ruptured Achilles, is obviously a non-participant. He’s joined on the sidelines by Isaiah Thomas, who is recovering from thumb surgery; Troy Brown, who has a left calf strain; Ian Mahinmi, who is battling Achilles pain; and C.J. Miles, who had surgery on his left foot in July.

“We have some challenges ahead right now with our limited guys in training camp,” coach Scott Brooks admitted.

There’s more from Media Day in Washington:

  • Brooks answered “no” when asked if he’s mentally prepared to face a full season without Wall, but admitted that it’s a possibility (Twitter link). He promised the team will be patient with Wall’s rehab process, adding, “He’s not going to play until he’s ready to play 100 percent.” (Twitter link). Wall also addressed reporters, saying he will take cues from his body and is in “no rush” to return (Twitter link).
  • With so much turnover in the past eight months, the starting lineup remains unsettled heading into camp, Brooks said (Twitter link). Bradley Beal and Thomas Bryant will both be starters, but the other three spots depend on what happens during the preseason.
  • Moritz Wagner is looking forward to a greater opportunity in Washington after playing just 43 games as a rookie with the Lakers, relays Chris Crouse of HoopsRumors (video link). Wagner, who was part of the trade that sent Anthony Davis to L.A., spent much of his first season in the G League. “My agent called and told me I was traded,” Wagner said. “That’s kind of how the business goes, I guess. That’s what you sign up for. People always talk about being traded as a bad thing. I think in my situation it was the best thing that could happen to me.”

Isaiah Thomas Undergoes Thumb Surgery, Out 6-8 Weeks

Isaiah Thomas, who has only appeared in 44 games over the last two seasons due to injuries, will have to recover from at least one more health issue before making his debut with the Wizards.

According to a press release from the team, Thomas underwent surgery today to repair a rupture of the radial collateral ligament of his left thumb. The Wizards say that Thomas will be sidelined for six to eight weeks while he recovers, meaning he won’t be ready for training camp or the start of the regular season.

“This was an unfortunate setback for Isaiah, but with his resolve and the top care he will receive from our medical team, we expect him to make a full recovery,” Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard said in a statement. “In the meantime, he will continue to mentor our young guards and have a positive impact on the team as we start training camp.”

Hip injuries limited Thomas to 32 games in 2017/18 with the Cavaliers and Lakers and just 12 contests last season in Denver. The veteran point guard signed with the Wizards as a free agent this summer in the hopes of playing a major role in the backcourt for the club with John Wall sidelined due to an Achilles tear and Tomas Satoransky no longer in the mix.

Assuming Thomas is able to return to the court within six to eight weeks, he’d be on track to make his regular season debut in early November and could still end up being a major part of Washington’s rotation. However, fellow free agent signee Ish Smith figures to secure the starting point guard role in Thomas’ absence.

The Wizards have no real veteran point guards on the roster behind Smith and Thomas, with second-year guard Isaac Bonga or undrafted rookie Justin Robinson next in line on the depth chart. So we’ll see if the team adds another player before the season begins to address its lack of depth at the position.

Southeast Notes: Thomas, Heat, Augustin

Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas has a prime opportunity to prove himself with the franchise this season, joining a roster lacking depth at point guard due to the lengthy recovery time for John Wall.

Thomas, 30, appeared in just 12 games with the Nuggets last season and 32 games with the Cavs and Lakers back in 2017/18. During his last healthy season, the 2016/17 campaign with Boston, he held per-game averages of 28.9 points and 5.9 assists in 76 contests.

“The NBA is about ‘what have you done for me lately?’ I understood that at a younger age and I get it,” Thomas said, as relayed by Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

“These last two years have been tough. But I always say that it can’t storm forever. So, at some point things gotta open up. Hopefully with this big opportunity with the Wizards, I can show people that I can still play at a high level.”

Thomas has found new motivation coming off a quiet season with Denver, working out with on-court trainer Andre Brown during the offseason with hopes of regaining his old footing in the league.

“This opportunity is going to be big for him, to shock the world,” Brown said of Thomas. “I just want everyone to pay attention and open [their] eyes and know that ‘it’s time.'”

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • The Heat will likely try and trade out of the luxury tax if possible, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. Miami has little to no additional flexibility outside of its 14 players under contract, with players set to report to training camp in less than one month.
  • In a separate article for the Sun Sentinel, Winderman ponders whether the Heat are sacrificing developmental opportunities. Miami signed veteran forward Udonis Haslem to its 14th roster spot this offseason, as Winderman notes, valuing the 39-year-old’s experience and locker room leadership for their current group of players.
  • Magic guard D.J. Augustin hopes the team’s offseason will lay a foundation for future success, Dan Savage of NBA.com writes. “They’re in here every day whether it’s on the court working out or in the weight room lifting weights, the fact that they’re here now and have been here all summer doing those things, it’s going to go a long way in their growth and their development as basketball players,” Augustin said of Orlando’s young core, which includes the likes of Jonathan Isaac, Mo Bamba and Markelle Fultz. “Every guy doesn’t work out the same, some guys hang out in the summer time and work out every now and then, but those guys are dedicated and they’re working hard every single day.”

Wizards Sign Isaiah Thomas

JULY 10: The Wizards have officially signed Thomas, the team announced today in a press release.

“This is an ideal fit for both us and Isaiah” Wizards interim head of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard said in a statement. “He is eager to show he has regained the form that made him one of the most effective and unique players in the league and we can provide the opportunity to allow him to do so within the framework of our team concept. We value his leadership and experience.”

JULY 1: Isaiah Thomas has agreed to sign a one-year contract with the Wizards, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. Thomas will receive the veteran’s minimum, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post tweets.

It’s the latest attempt by Thomas to resurrect his career after two lost seasons. He averaged a career-best 28.9 PPG in 2016/17 season with the Celtics but hasn’t been the same since hip surgery. He appeared in just 12 games with the Nuggets last season, averaging 8.1 PPG and 1.9 APG in 15.1 MPG.

He’s the second diminutive point man that has decided to join Washington next season. Ish Smith, formerly of the Pistons, reached a two-year deal with the Wizards. John Wall is expected to miss most of next season after rupturing his Achilles in February.

The team also agreed to move Tomas Satoransky, who played a lot of point guard in Wall’s absence, to the Bulls in a sign-and-trade.

Southeast Notes: Ross, Thomas, Wizards, Young

Veteran swingman Terrence Ross was one of the first players to come off the board after the free agent period officially opened on the evening of June 30, opting to return to the Magic on a four-year deal that will pay him a reported $54MM. However, remaining in Orlando was hardly Ross’ only option.

As John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com details, Ross said he received either serious interest or a contract offer from the Lakers, Jazz, Mavericks, Pacers, and Kings while he was a free agent. Like teammate Nikola Vucevic though, Ross preferred to stick with the Magic.

“I felt like for us, we both had a lot of other suitors, but our main focus all along was here (with the Magic),” Ross said. “It was one of those things where we were like, ‘Hey bro, wanna go and run it back?’ And we both were like, ‘Yeah.’ It worked out pretty quick because we were on the same page and it worked out perfectly.”

Let’s round up a few more notes from around the Southeast…

  • Speaking to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, new Wizards point guard Isaiah Thomas said his free agency this time around was all about “opportunity,” since he wanted to join a team that would give him a chance to play a regular role. “When the Wizards called and showed interest, with John Wall being out possibly the whole year, that seemed like a big opportunity for me to be able to showcase that I’m 100 percent healthy and that I can still play at the high level that I’m used to playing at,” Thomas said.
  • The Wizards are interviewing candidates in an effort to hire a new assistant to Scott Brooks‘ coaching staff, reports Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. While it’s not clear what kind of coach the team is seeking, Hughes notes that there has been talk within the franchise about finding someone with a “strong defensive track record.”
  • According to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link), Hawks guard Trae Young is expected to be among the players invited to join the USA Basketball Select Team, which will participate in training camp with the Team USA squad in Las Vegas next month prior to the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

Bulls Acquire Tomas Satoransky Via Sign-And-Trade

JULY 7: The Bulls’ acquisition of Satoransky via sign-and-trade is now official, the team announced in a press release.

JULY 1: The Bulls have reached an agreement with the Wizards to acquire restricted free agent point guard Tomas Satoransky via a sign-and-trade deal, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

In return, the Wizards will acquire two second-round picks. The 2023 second-round pick (protected 31-36) that the Bulls sent the Wizards in the Otto Porter trade will also have its protections removed as part of this deal, according to David Aldridge of The Athletic (via Twitter).

Wojnarowski (via Twitter) has the full details on the assets the Wizards are acquiring from the Bulls. They are as follows:

  • Either the Bulls’ or Grizzlies’ 2020 second-round pick (whichever is more favorable).
  • The right to swap the Lakers’ 2022 second-round pick for either the Bulls’ or Pistons’ 2022 second-round pick (whichever is more favorable).
  • The 31-36 protection removed from the Bulls’ 2023 second-round pick.

According to Wojnarowski, Satoransky will ink a three-year contract with Chicago. Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (Twitter link) hears the deal will be worth $30MM, while Johnson tweets that the third year isn’t expected to be fully guaranteed.

A former second-round pick, Satoransky has spent his first three NBA seasons in Washington, and assumed the starting point guard role when John Wall when down last season. In 2018/19, he averaged 8.9 PPG, 5.0 APG, and 3.5 RPG in 80 games (27.1 MPG).

While Satoransky isn’t a big-usage player, he has been an efficient caretaker in the backcourt. Last season, he shot .485/.395/.819 and turned the ball over just 1.5 times per game.

The Bulls entered the summer with about $23MM in cap room and intended to use it on a pair of veterans, including a point guard. They reached a three-year, $41MM deal with Thaddeus Young on Sunday night, and now figure to use their leftover space to finalize the acquisition of Satoransky. According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), the 27-year-old will get the opportunity to start at the point for the Bulls, who will presumably be patient with lottery pick Coby White.

As for the Wizards, they agreed to terms with Ish Smith this morning, but will be in the market for more point guard help with Wall expected to be sidelined for a good chunk of 2019/20. According to Aldridge (via Twitter), they’re talking to Isaiah Thomas and hope there’s a fit there.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Atlantic Notes: Pelle, Sixers, Thomas, Siakam

Hoops Rumors’ own JD Shaw hears that the Sixers will sign center Norvel Pelle to a two-way contract (Twitter links).

Pelle, who went undrafted in 2014, played for the Delaware Blue Coats last season. The big man was named to the NBAGL All-Defensive Team for his play in the G League.

Haywood Highsmith previously occupied one of the team’s two-way contracts before being waived earlier in the week. Shaw adds that Highsmith will join Philadelphia’s Summer League team in Las Vegas.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • David Heller, who had been a partial owner of the Sixers, is no longer part of the team, Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report relays (Twitter link). “We can confirm that David Heller has sold his interest in Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE). David will always be a friend to this organization. We appreciate his time, effort, energy, and partnership…and wish him well in his future endeavors,” the Sixers said in a statement. The circumstances surrounding Heller’s departure are unclear, but sources close to the front office tell Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer that he was forced out. The 76ers strongly denied that characterization, Pompey notes.
  • Isaiah Thomas is not in the Celtics‘ plan this offseason, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe writes. Boston appears likely to lose Kyrie Irving, though the organization is reportedly a leading contender for Kemba Walker.
  • Blake Murphy of The Athletic explores whether the Raptors should ink Pascal Siakam to an extension this summer. Siakam’s long-term future in Toronto isn’t in question; it’s just a matter of whether to sign him to an extension before the season or wait until next summer to handle his contract situation in restricted free agency.

Pistons To Consider Derrick Rose In Free Agency?

Point guard will be an area of focus for the Pistons in free agency this summer, as backups Ish Smith and Jose Calderon are set to hit the open market. And a source with first-hand knowledge of the team’s thinking tells Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press that Derrick Rose is one potential target who will be “a subject of debate” within the front office.

Rose is unlikely to have to settle for the minimum salary again after enjoying an impressive bounce-back season in Minnesota, averaging 18.0 PPG and 4.3 APG on .482/.370/.856 shooting. However, he was limited to just 51 games due to more injuries, an ongoing issue which will likely keep his price tag in check. That means he could be an option for a team like the Pistons, who won’t have any cap room available this offseason.

Seth Curry is another free-agent-to-be who figures to be of interest to Detroit, according to Ellis, though he notes that there’s a belief head coach Dwane Casey will push for a true point guard. In that case, players like Ricky Rubio and Patrick Beverley may be on the club’s radar. The likes of T.J. McConnell or Isaiah Thomas could also be targets if the club pursues a lower-cost option, Ellis adds.

Of course, re-signing Smith will also be a scenario the Pistons could consider, but there was an “air of finality” to his end-of-season media session, according to Ellis, who writes that the team will explore upgrades at the position.

The 2019/20 mid-level exception is projected to be worth approximately $9.2MM, based on a $109MM cap, while the bi-annual exception would be worth about $3.6MM. Unless the Pistons shed significant salary, those will be the only two exceptions – besides the minimum – available to the team in free agency. Both exceptions can be used on a single player or split up among multiple free agents.

Northwest Notes: Thomas, Korver, Blazers, Harris

Despite coping with injuries and struggling to gain playing time in the past 18 months, Nuggets guard Isaiah Thomas is confident the process will turn around for the better, Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated writes. Thomas, 30, will become an unrestricted free agent in July.

“I’m blessed. I know it’s going to turn at one point,” Thomas told The Undefeated. “I worked too hard for it not to. It’s always been like that in my career. I’ve seen this story before. I’ve seen this page, I’ve seen this chapter, and I know what’s gonna happen in the end. I’m going to take it back to the top, and then people are going to all show that fake love again. That’s all it is.

“It’s just a bump in the road that I hit, and like I’ve said about Nipsey [Hussle], it’s a marathon. You just got to keep running, keep running the race and keep working hard.”

Thomas played just 12 games with the Nuggets this season and 32 total games the season before with Cleveland and Los Angeles, working to get back to full strength after undergoing a major hip surgery last March.

It was just two years ago that he was leading the Celtics to a deep postseason run, cementing himself as one of the top point guards in the league. For Thomas, he hopes to be able to play basketball for several more seasons and extend his career until he turns 40.

“Oh, hell no,” Thomas said when asked if he considered retiring last year. “I’m playing until I’m 40. … I want to play until I can’t no more. For sure.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division tonight:

  • Jazz guard Kyle Korver is dealing with some concerning knee pain ahead of Sunday’s Game 1 against the Rockets, tweets Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. Korver, who’s listed as available to play, appeared to cut short a normal shooting workout on Saturday due to the pain. Korver shot 38% from behind-the-arc in 54 games this season with Utah, averaging 20.1 minutes per contest off the bench.
  • Joe Freeman of The Oregonian labels five storylines to watch in the Trail Blazers-Thunder series, including how Portland’s new starting five operates. The Blazers appear poised to start Enes Kanter in place of the injured Jusuf Nurkic for the rest of the postseason, with Kanter tallying 20 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks in a Game 1 victory against the Thunder on Sunday.
  • Gary Harris could be the “X-Factor” for the Nuggets in their first-round series against the Spurs, Sean Keeler of the Denver Post writes. Harris, a prominent offensive option in Denver’s rotation, finished with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting in a Game 1 loss to San Antonio on Saturday. The Nuggets need his production to take back homecourt advantage from the Spurs, a talented team led by the likes of DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge.