Ish Smith

Southeast Notes: Smith, Lopez, Carter, Bamba

Point guard Ish Smith will be playing for his 12th NBA franchise this season but his stint with the Hornets will be special, Sam Perley of the team’s website notes. Smith grew up in Charlotte, NC.

“I wanted to be home, I’m not going to lie to you,” Smith said. “I’m sure everybody is going mention it in every game we play. Every year, it’s about how many teams you’ve been on. I’m like look, somebody likes me. … [Being here] is something that I’m excited about, it’s something my family’s excited about. So, yeah, it is something I wanted to do.”

Smith signed a two-year deal with the Hornets last month.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Robin Lopez, signed to add depth in the middle for the rebuilding Magic, compares himself to a bullpen specialist in baseball, Josh Cohen of the team’s website writes. “You know the relief pitcher, they’re always a little rotund,” Lopez said with a grin. “They’re not playing every night necessarily, but they are going in there making an impact when the team needs them.” Lopez signed a one-year, $5MM deal with Orlando.
  • The Magic will be evaluating their long-term plans at center over the next 12 months, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic. The franchise is unlikely to make long-term commitments to both Wendell Carter Jr. and Mohamed Bamba. They are eligible for rookie scale extensions this offseason. If Carter isn’t signed to an extension, he will still have every opportunity to prove himself in the season ahead and perhaps show that his ceiling is higher than many scouts believe he can reach, Robbins adds.
  • ICYMI, a former Nets guard has agreed to a contract with the Hawks. Get the details here.

Hornets Notes: Oubre, I. Smith, Li. Ball, Summer League

Kelly Oubre‘s two-year deal with the Hornets, which was completed using cap space, is worth $12MM and $12.6MM in year two, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. That second year is only partially guaranteed for $5MM, however, so the agreement includes just $17MM in total guaranteed money.

Meanwhile, Ish Smith‘s two-year contract with the Hornets uses most of the club’s room exception, according to Smith (Twitter link). It starts at $4.5MM in 2021/22, while the $4.725MM salary for ’22/23 is non-guaranteed.

Here’s more on the Hornets:

  • LiAngelo Ball, who is playing for the Hornets’ Summer League team in Las Vegas, said he’s “very thankful” for the opportunity and isn’t taking it for granted, as Rod Boone of SI.com writes. Ball was supposed to play for Oklahoma City’s G League affiliate in March 2020 before the pandemic stopped the season. He impressed Charlotte’s brass while working out in the gym with his brother LaMelo Ball in recent months, Boone writes.
  • Ball’s performance in Las Vegas is one of a handful of Hornets Summer League storylines to watch, according to Jonathan M. Alexander of The Charlotte Observer, who says he’ll also be keeping an eye on James Bouknight‘s three-point shooting and how much time Kai Jones spends at center.
  • In case you missed it, the Hornets are still believed to be eyeing restricted free agent Lauri Markkanen, despite no longer having the cap room necessary to sign him to an offer sheet.

Hornets Sign Ish Smith To Two-Year Deal

AUGUST 7: The Hornets have officially signed Smith, the team announced today in a press release. Based on the order in which Charlotte completed its roster moves this week, it looks like the team signed Smith using its room exception after using up all its cap space.


AUGUST 3: The Hornets have agreed to sign free agent point guard Ish Smith, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Charania reports (via Twitter) that it’s a two-year deal, with a team option on the second year. Smith will earn $4.5MM in the first year, Charania adds.

Smith, a Charlotte native, has spent the last two seasons in D.C. as a backup point guard for the Wizards. The 33-year-old averaged 6.7 PPG, 3.9 APG, and 3.4 RPG in 44 games (21.0 MPG) in 2020/21, with a shooting line of .434/.367/.576.

While the Hornets have LaMelo Ball atop their point guard depth chart and Terry Rozier as a strong second option, those two guards often share the court, so Charlotte needed to add a reliable backup after agreeing to send Devonte’ Graham to New Orleans in a sign-and-trade deal. It looks like the team has landed on Smith to fill that role.

The Wizards, meanwhile, are making major changes to their point guard position this offseason, as Russell Westbrook will be traded to the Lakers and Smith won’t be back. Washington has agreed to acquire Aaron Holiday from Indiana and is also finalizing a sign-and-trade deal to acquire Spencer Dinwiddie.

Wizards Notes: Westbrook, Gafford, Roster, Offseason

Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook is officially listed as questionable to play Saturday’s Game 3 against the Sixers due to a right ankle sprain, the team tweets. Westbrook injured his ankle in the second half of Game 2. He played just 29 minutes and shot 2-for-10 from the field. If he can’t go, Ish Smith would likely move into the lineup and play big minutes.

We have more from the Wizards:

  • Daniel Gafford understands why the coaching staff hasn’t let him play heavy minutes, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington details. Gafford has played 20 minutes in both games of the series. Gafford says his conditioning wasn’t ideal due to his spotty minutes before he was traded from the Bulls. “Sometimes it’s terrible, sometimes it’s better than what it was the day before,” he said. “I have to really just maintain consistency on where my conditioning is when it comes to doing things off the court and stuff. My conditioning was lopsided at the time [of the trade]. I’ve had a weird year, I’m not going to lie to you.”
  • Regardless of how the series shakes out, the playoffs are a perfect measuring stick for the Wizards’ roster heading into a crucial offseason, Hughes writes in a separate story. It could require a trade or a key free agent acquisition to take the next step to being a title contender, or simply improvement from within, Hughes continues. They’ll have to decide whether to mortgage their future to put the necessary pieces around Bradley Beal and Westbrook, Hughes adds.
  • The front office needs to put its mid-level exception and first-round pick to good use this offseason, specifically to address its lack of perimeter shooters, David Aldridge of The Athletic opines. With Davis Bertans rendered a non-factor in the series, Washington doesn’t have any consistent 3-point threats on the current roster, Aldridge notes.

Wizards Rumors: Brown, Drummond, Mathews, Bell, More

While Bradley Beal remains extremely unlikely to be traded within the next nine days, that doesn’t mean the Wizards will stand pat at this month’s trade deadline. According to Fred Katz and David Aldridge of The Athletic, league sources have suggested that Washington appears open to moving young players like Troy Brown, Moritz Wagner, Jerome Robinson, and Isaac Bonga.

All of those players are between 21 and 24 years old and are on relatively inexpensive contracts, but they’ve been in and out of the rotation this season and aren’t particularly valuable trade assets. Of the four, Brown probably has the most appeal. One executive told Katz and Aldridge that the Wizrads could probably get a “second-round-equivalent asset” for the former 15th overall pick.

“My guess is an early second(-rounder) and/or a decent young player,” another executive said. “I’m sure they’d like more, but not sure those guys have much more value than that at this point.”

Here’s more on the Wizards from Katz and Aldridge:

  • Although a quad injury will keep Ish Smith on the shelf through the trade deadline, one opposing GM thinks the point guard could have a little trade value to any team “looking to add veteran pace to its second unit.”
  • The Wizards are keeping an eye on Cavaliers center Andre Drummond as a possible buyout target, sources tell The Athletic. Drummond would probably prefer a contending team in that scenario, but Washington could pique his interest by using its $4.2MM disabled player exception to offer more than the veteran’s minimum.
  • Since players on two-way contracts can now appear in all 72 games and are eligible to play in the postseason, there’s less urgency to convert Garrison Mathews to a standard contract. Still, he’s a candidate to be promoted to the 15-man roster, especially if the Wizards can lock him up to a multiyear deal. In that scenario, Jordan Bell would be a leading contender to fill Mathews’ vacated two-way slot, per Katz and Aldridge.
  • According to The Athletic’s duo, one obstacle that could complicate the Wizards’ pursuit of Drummond or negotiations with Mathews is the club’s desire to stay below the luxury tax threshold — team salary is currently within $1MM of that line, though certain trades could create more breathing room.

Southeast Notes: Heat, Graham, Wizards, Smith

While the Heat are still willing to make an upgrade, their recent surge allows them to be more selective as the trade deadline approaches, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. Their $7.5MM trade exception will expire next Monday and the most likely candidates for that slot are Kings power forward Nemanja Bjelica ($7.2MM) and Thunder big man Mike Muscala ($2.3MM). Miami is unlikely to give away a key young piece to acquire Rockets guard Victor Oladipo, Jackson adds.

We have more on the Southeast Division:

  • Hornets guard Devonte’ Graham will enter restricted free agency this summer (provided the team extends a qualifying offer) and some teams believe he’s available because the franchise will be hesitant to pay up for his second contract, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic. Graham’s perceived availability is tied to the fact that starter Terry Rozier is having a strong season and is signed through next season, while LaMelo Ball is the likely Rookie of the Year.
  • The Wizards probably won’t make any major moves before the trade deadline but they’ll be mindful of improving their defense if they complete any transaction, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington reports. They are reluctant to add a shooter who is a subpar defender. They also have limited expendable resources and are close to the luxury tax line.
  • There’s no update yet on Ish Smith‘s injured right quad, Hughes tweets. Wizards coach Scott Brooks hopes to know more in the next 10-14 days. The veteran backup point guard, who has an expiring $6MM contract, was expected to miss six to eight weeks — it has been almost four so far.

Ish Smith Suffers Quad Injury, Out 6-8 Weeks

Wizards reserve point guard Ish Smith has suffered a right proximal quadriceps injury, and is expected to be sidelined for the next six to eight weeks, per an official team tweet. Washington will reassess his status after three weeks of rehabilitation.

Smith inked a two-year, $12MM contract with the Wizards in the summer of 2019. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. In 19 games with the Wizards this season, Smith is averaging 5.2 PPG, 4.7 APG, and 3.5 RPG across 20.6 MPG.

The 6’0″ veteran guard out of Wake Forest has already been unavailable for the past two Wizards games with the injury, as Fred Katz of The Athletic notes (Twitter link). In his stead, Raul Neto and Troy Brown have compensated for his minutes behind starter Russell Westbrook.

“It’s tough news,” head coach Scott Brooks said of the Smith injury, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link). “He does things that we’re not going to be able to replace in the second unit. He gives us that instant change of pace.”

Free Agent Stock Watch: Southeast 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 Southeast Division:

Malik Monk, Hornets, 23, SG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $15.7MM deal in 2017

Monk has forced his way back into Charlotte’s rotation — 36-point explosions will do that for you. Monk’s scoring outburst led the Hornets to an overtime victory against Miami on Monday. That was sandwiched by an 18-point game against Milwaukee and a 13-point output against Philadelphia. A 2017 lottery pick, Monk has never shot better than 34.2% from deep in his first three seasons and bottomed out at 28.4% last season. He’s made 52.5% of his long-range shots this season. Charlotte would have to extend Monk a $7MM+ qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent this summer. The Hornets might opt to deal him this winter but Monk will continue to pump up his value if he keeps shooting like this.

Tony Snell, Hawks, 29, SG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $46MM deal in 2017

Snell had a player option that was much too lucrative to turn down last offseason. When he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, he’ll be looking at substantially smaller offers that the one he received from Milwaukee in 2017. Snell started regularly for Detroit last season but he hasn’t gotten much floor time with Atlanta despite several injuries to wing players. He played a season-high 24 minutes against Utah on Thursday but once De’Andre Hunter and Bogdan Bogdanovic return to action, Snell will reside at the end of the bench once again.

Kendrick Nunn, Heat, 25, SG (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $3.1MM deal in 2018

Nunn was one of the league’s feel-good stories last season, an undrafted rookie who graduated from the G League to become a starter with the Heat, then finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting after averaging 15.3 PPG and 3.3 APG in 67 regular-season games. However, he lost his starting job in the Orlando bubble following a bout with COVID-19 and hasn’t regained it this season. Nunn was playing regularly when Jimmy Butler battled the virus last month but he has fallen completely out of the rotation the last three games. Avery Bradley‘s latest injury should allow him to regain his spot. Nunn’s qualifying offer is a meager $2.1MM if he doesn’t meet the starter criteria, so he’ll likely become a restricted free agent. Still, it’ll be harder to land a big offer sheet from another club if his playing time continues to wildly fluctuate.

Ish Smith, Wizards, 32, PG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $12MM deal in 2019

Smith has carved out a nice career as a second-unit sparkplug. He’s always been capable of tossing in a 20-point night with his quickness and driving ability. Those outings haven’t occurred this season. He’s only reached double digits once despite averaging a steady 20.7 MPG. He’s still making a positive contributor with his passing – he’s averaged 7.0 assists the last five games – but he’s 1-for-12 from the field in his last two games despite playing 54 minutes. At 32, Smith will find it increasingly difficult to get offers ahead of younger players. That reality could strike as early as this summer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Beal Acknowledges Frustration As Wizards’ Slide Continues

Wizards star Bradley Beal scored 47 points on Wednesday, but it wasn’t nearly enough to topple the Pelicans, who won by a score of 124-106. The Wizards’ record dropped to an NBA-worst 3-11, and the outcome made Beal the first player in NBA history to lose 10 consecutive games in which he scored 40 or more points (Twitter link).

Asked after the game if he’s frustrated by how things are going for the team as of late, Beal replied rhetorically, “Is the sky blue?” (link via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com).

When trade speculation about Beal was beginning to heat up in 2019, the All-Star guard quieted it by signing a two-year, $72MM contract extension to remain in Washington through at least 2021/22. However, the team has a 28-58 (.326) record across parts of two seasons since then, which aren’t exactly the results Beal was hoping for.

“It’s tough,” Beal said, per Youngmisuk. “I am not going to sit here and be naive. … We want to win, and I want to win. This is why I stayed. I want to win. I figured this is the place I can get it done. It’s tough. Last year was what it was. We had a lot of guys out. John (Wall) was out. It was just a rotten year. COVID hit.

“This year it’s the same thing. Like in a mini-bubble outside the bubble. No fans, no nothing, no practice time. It’s been tough.”

The Wizards have had some bad injury luck this year. Starting center Thomas Bryant suffered a season-ending ACL tear, while newly-acquired point guard Russell Westbrook – who sat out the second half of a back-to-back set on Wednesday – has also been limited by health issues, including a quad injury.

Additionally, Washington has been hit harder this year by the coronavirus pandemic than perhaps any other NBA team. Seven of the Wizards’ players have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 since the 2020/21 season began.

While Deni Avdija, Davis Bertans, Troy Brown, Rui Hachimura, Ish Smith, and Moritz Wagner all remained sidelined due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Wednesday, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said last night that he thinks there’s a “great chance” the club will get a few of those players back soon, perhaps as early as Friday (Twitter link via Fred Katz of The Athletic).

Those reinforcements could help stabilize the Wizards’ rotation, and with 58 of 72 games still to play, there’s plenty of time to turn things around. Beal said on Wednesday that the group’s confidence level remains high (link via Katz), while Brooks expressed hope that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and stressed that Beal’s desire to win is “critical to our future success” (Twitter link via Ava Wallace of The Washington Post).

Still, it’s safe to assume teams around the league will continue to monitor the situation in Washington in the coming weeks or months. For now, Beal’s frustration hasn’t risen to the point where he’s seeking a change of scenery, but he’d instantly become the NBA’s most sought-after trade target if he’s made available at any point this season.

NBA Postpones Friday’s Wizards/Bucks Game

The game between the Wizards and Bucks that was scheduled to be played on Friday in Milwaukee has been postponed, the NBA announced tonight (Twitter link).

It’s the sixth consecutive postponement for the Wizards, who haven’t played since January 11. The team was cleared to return to the court to practice on Wednesday, but remains significantly shorthanded.

Deni Avdija, Davis Bertans, Troy Brown, Rui Hachimura, Ish Smith, and Moritz Wagner are out due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, while Thomas Bryant (ACL) and Russell Westbrook (quad) are sidelined due to injuries, leaving just eight available players on the roster (Twitter link).

According to the NBA’s announcement, the game is being postponed due to the number of unavailable players for the Wizards, contact tracing affecting players on the roster, and the club’s lengthy layoff from practicing.

As Fred Katz of The Athletic wrote earlier tonight, Bradley Beal and the Wizards had been planning to lobby for a postponement of Friday’s game, since they felt that potentially playing with the league-mandated minimum of eight players after not practicing for the last week would result in a high risk of injury for the active players.

The next game on Washington’s schedule is Sunday in San Antonio. The hope is that the Wizards will have enough available players – and enough practice time between now and then – to be ready to play that game.

The NBA has now postponed 17 contests this season. The full list is here.