Jerian Grant

Southeast Notes: Wizards, McGruder, Bamba, Briscoe

Even if the Wizards are granted an $8.6MM disabled player exception, they’re more likely to sign players to 10-day contracts than use that exception, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Washington applied for the exception due to John Wall‘s season-ending heel surgery.

The Wizards’ cap issues make it unlikely they’d find a free agent enticing enough to sign for the remainder of the season by using a portion of the exception. The Wizards inked point guard Ramon Sessions to a pair of 10-day contracts last season before signing him for the rest of the season, Hughes notes.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • Shooting guard Rodney McGruder could lose his rotation spot if Heat coach Erik Spoelstra decides to expand Tyler Johnson‘s minutes, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes in his latest mailbag. In that instance, Dion Waiters would start ahead of McGruder and Johnson would receive second unit minutes. Waiters returned from ankle surgery three games ago. McGruder has played fewer than 20 minutes in three of the last four games.
  • An MRI on rookie center Mohamed Bamba‘s sore foot showed no structural damage, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Magic coach Steve Clifford said Bamba is unlikely to play this weekend, Robbins adds. The sixth overall pick sat out against Utah on Wednesday.
  • Clifford is inclined to keep rookie Isaiah Briscoe in the Magic’s rotation as the backup point guard, Robbins reports in another tweet. Briscoe has averaged 17.5 MPG in the last two games, contributing 5.5 PPG and 3.5 APG. The undrafted Kentucky product has displaced Jerian Grant, who had been backing up D.J. Augustin. Briscoe’s salary is non-guaranteed after this season, while Grant could be an unrestricted free agent if the club doesn’t extend a $3.76MM qualifying offer.

Southeast Notes: Satoransky, Toliver, Magic, Bacon

Wizards restricted free agent Tomas Satoransky has been thrust into the spotlight with John Wall opting for season-ending heel surgery, Chase Hughes on NBC Sports Washington notes. Satoransky takes over the starting point guard spot with Wall sidelined, with Chasson Randle, Ron Baker and Troy Brown Jr. in reserve. Coach Scott Brooks believes Satoransky can handle the pressure. “He’s ready for this,” Brooks said. “Tomas is going to get a great opportunity. He’s going to be more comfortable as the games go by.” Washington will need to make Satoransky a qualifying offer of $3.9MM to prevent him from becoming an unrestricted free agent.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Wizards assistant coach Kristi Toliver is being paid like an intern due to NBA rules, Howard Megdal of the New York Times reports. Since Toliver plays with the Mystics, who are also owned by Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, the league determined that Toliver’s compensation must come out of the $50K allocated to each team to pay WNBA players for off-season work. Much of that had already been promised to Mystics and WNBA star Elena Delle Donne, so Toliver is only making $10K.
  • The Magic will aggressively pursue a point guard in free agency, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders tweets. Orlando has been using journeyman D.J. Augustin as its starter this season with Jerian Grant as the primary backup.
  • The Hornets will likely bring back Dwayne Bacon with Jeremy Lamb injured, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer tweets. Lamb suffered a right hamstring strain on Monday. Bacon was assigned the team’s G League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, on Sunday. Bacon, a second-year swingman, has appeared in 17 games with the Hornets, averaging 5.5 PPG in 12.4 MPG.

Magic Rumors: Grant, Mozgov, Gordon, Caupain

Newly-acquired point guard Jerian Grant expected to have a bigger role with the Magic than he had with the Bulls, John Denton of the team’s website reports. Grant was traded to Orlando as part of a three-team deal also involving the Hornets. He’ll compete with D.J. Augustin for the starting job. “I’ve improved and learned a lot about the game – about how you have to be aggressive, know the game and know your teammates,’’ Grant told Denton. “Being that point guard, it’s the toughest position in the league and you’ve got to bring it every night. I feel that with this opportunity, I’m ready to take advantage of.”

In other developments involving the Magic:

  • Center Timofey Mozgov was the other player acquired in the trade but it’s uncertain what his role will be, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reports. Mozgov has two years and $32.72MM remaining on his contract but Orlando has three other centers on the roster, including Nikola Vucevic, lottery pick Mohamed Bamba and Khem Birch. “He’s very bright,” coach Steve Clifford said of Mozgov. “He’s a big body, and he’s a much better athlete than people give him credit for. So we’ll see. We’ll bring them in and start to get to know them.”
  • Forward Aaron Gordon said that reaching a multi-year agreement with the club brought tears to his eyes, Denton writes in a separate piece. Gordon was relieved to sign a four-year, $80MM contract after entering the month as a restricted free agent. “I’m a guy who naturally has a lot of energy, so with all of that [pressure of getting an agreement] piled on top of me, I was pacing,” he said. “It’s relief that we got it done and even more relief that I can come back to Orlando.”
  • The Magic have signed guard Troy Caupain to a two-way contract. Caupain played for their G League team last season. Get all the details here.

Magic Likely Done In Free Agency

After re-signing Aaron Gordon to his four-year, $76MM deal, using part of their mid-level exception to reach agreements with rookies Melvin Frazier and Isaiah Briscoe, and adding a reliable backup point guard in Jerian Grant to spell incumbent starting point guard D.J. Augustin, the Magic are likely finished adding players to their roster through free agency this summer, reports Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.

“We’re in a pretty good place with our financial flexibility, all things considered, but the roster is done as we sit here today,” Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman says. “We don’t feel like there are any holes that we need to shore up. We can always get better, and we’ll always be on the lookout for ways to get better. At this point, that would come probably more in the form of a trade if we were to do anything for the remainder of the summer.”

The Magic are currently projected to have a team salary around $110.9MM, assuming the team retains the services of backup guard Rodney Purvis, whose $1.4MM salary is non-guaranteed. Per Robbins, Orlando will also look to fill its open slots for two-way contracts and could bring in additional players on training camp deals.

The statement from Weltman all but puts to rest the speculation surrounding Isaiah Thomas, who was reported to be “negotiating a possible deal” with the Magic last week. Per Robbins, Orlando considered Thomas, but negotiations never took place, as the club believes Augustin is fully capable of leading this year’s squad.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve our roster at every position, but we are in capable hands with D.J.,” Weltman said. “D.J. is a very good player and he’s coming off the best year of his career under trying circumstances. D.J. represents what we want to be about: a professional who prepares, who plays for his teammates and who always brings the same personality to the team irrespective of the highs and lows of the season.”

Weltman also added that newly-acquired center Timofey Mozgov is not currently a candidate to be bought out, despite likely being buried on the depth chart behind Nikola Vucevic and heralded rookie Mohamed Bamba. Rather, the team hopes Mozgov will impact the team off the court through his experience and professionalism.

Should the Magic change their mind and decide to re-enter the free-agent fray, they still have nearly $7MM of their mid-level exception remaining after signing both Frazier and Briscoe to deals exceeding two seasons.

Hornets, Bulls, Magic Complete Three-Way Deal

JULY 8, 8:27am: The trade is now official, according to press releases from all three teams. In addition to receiving Biyombo, the Hornets will also acquire 2019 and 2020 second-round picks from the Magic. Orlando holds multiple second-rounders in each year, so it’s not yet clear which selections are changing hands.

“There were some elements of (the trade) that we were discussing individually the last few weeks, but the deal actually came together just [on Saturday],” said Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman. “It was really kind of a quick-hitter.”

The Bulls intend to waive Stone, per Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link).

JULY 7, 8:20pm: The trade has been agreed to in principle, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

JULY 7, 7:51pm: Charlotte, Chicago and Orlando are close to a trade that would send Timofey Mozgov to the Magic, Bismack Biyombo to the Hornets and Julyan Stone to the Bulls, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Bulls guard Jerian Grant will also go to Orlando in the deal, Woj adds (Twitter link).

The Hornets will give up more than $17MM in the trade between Mozgov’s $16MM salary for next season and Stone’s non-guaranteed $1,656,092. This will be the second trade of the summer for Mozgov, who was shipped from the Nets to the Hornets in a deal that became official yesterday. He has two years left on his current contract, with a $16.72MM salary for 2019/20.

In Biyombo, Charlotte picks up a shot blocker to replace Dwight Howard, who went to Brooklyn in the Mozgov deal. Biyombo’s contract is nearly in line with Mozgov’s, paying him $17MM in 2018/19, with a player option for the same amount the following season. Orlando breaks up a logjam at center that had existed since drafting Mohamed Bamba, while Mozgov becomes the third-string center in Orlando and probably won’t see much more playing time than he did in Brooklyn.

Chicago plays a minor role in the trade, creating modest savings by sending out Grant’s $2,639,314 salary in exchange for Stone’s non-guaranteed figure. The Bulls could be looking to shed any salary they can before their expected matching of the Kings’ offer sheet for Zach LaVine.

Stone’s guarantee date is August 1, posts Bobby Marks on ESPN Now, and the Bulls can increase their cap room to $16MM by letting him go and getting rid of Noah Vonleh‘s cap hold. Taking on Biyombo’s contract pushes the Hornets up to $120.3MM in salary with 14 guaranteed deals, just $3.4MM under the luxury tax.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bulls Notes: LaVine, Grant, Payne, Stone

The Bulls will be investing in an unknown commodity by matching the Kings’ four-year, $78MM offer sheet for Zach LaVine, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. Chicago’s most recent offer to LaVine was only about $2MM less per year than the deal with the Kings, so it’s not a great financial burden for the team to take on. The bigger question is what kind of player LaVine will be after an ACL tear limited him to a combined 71 games over the past two seasons.

The 23-year-old got into just 24 contests in his first season with Chicago and wasn’t particularly effective. LaVine averaged 16.7 points per game, but shot a career-low 38.3% from the floor and the Bulls were outscored by 7.2 PPG while he was on the court. Friedell states that LaVine hasn’t progressed beyond what he was when he entered the league, an athletic marvel who lacks efficiency on offense and consistency on defense.

The Bulls may also have to repair their relationship with LaVine, who said he felt more wanted by the Kings in free agency. The front office believes it has to match LaVine’s offer sheet so it won’t lose the centerpiece of the Jimmy Butler trade, Friedell adds, but it isn’t certain that it’s getting a player to build around for the next four seasons.

There’s more news out of Chicago:

  • An escalating salary cap will make LaVine’s new contract look better in future years, notes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Conflicting reports give LaVine a starting salary of either $18.1MM or $19.5MM, which would be either 17.8% or 19.1% of the salary cap, and that percentage will fall in future years as the cap continues to rise. Johnson also notes that the Kings did the Bulls a favor by putting substantial injury protection for themselves in the deal in case LaVine has more problems with his left knee. Chicago’s front office didn’t suggest that in its negotiations out of fear of angering LaVine and his representatives.
  • Tonight’s decision to trade Jerian Grant was a sign of confidence in Cameron Payne as the backup point guard, Johnson adds in a separate story. The Bulls will save about $1MM in swapping Grant for Julyan Stone and another $1,656,092 by waiving Stone before his August 1 guarantee date. Injuries have limited Payne to just 36 games since being acquired from the Thunder at the 2017 trade deadline.
  • The Bulls will create a $2.6MM trade exception in tonight’s deal, tweets salary cap specialist Albert Nahmad. The team can open as much as $29MM before officially matching LaVine’s offer sheet by waiving Paul Zipser and Sean Kilpatrick (Twitter link).

Central Notes: LaVine, Parker, Pistons

Comments from Bulls vice president John Paxson suggest that the franchise is keen on letting the market decide pending restricted free agent Zach LaVine‘s value and, as Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun Times writes, the 23-year-old’s fate remains a dicey topic.

Cowley writes that a source of his claims that LaVine’s camp regards him as a max or close-to-max player but that the Bulls may not be so sure.

The Bulls, he adds, have been passive in restricted free agency negotiations in the past, “lowballing” Jimmy Butler back in 2015 and letting the market dictate Nikola Mirotic‘s value last summer.

Well, the market dictates a lot and how things go,” Paxson said. “I think the market has tightened up a little bit the last couple of years since the spike. [The Bulls] obviously value Zach a lot, and we think he’s a part of our future, but he has the opportunity to explore things.

There’s more from the Central Division:

Bulls Notes: Lineup Changes, Payne, Forman

With 25 games left in their season, the Bulls are focusing on the future, as VP John Paxson explained to reporters on Tuesday (link via Sam Smith of Bulls.com). That means that Cristiano Felicio will move into the starting lineup on Thursday in place of veteran center Robin Lopez, while David Nwaba will supplant Justin Holiday.

“The hard part from our standpoint is you can’t play 12 guys. Nine or 10 is the most,” Paxson said. “We’re going to start looking at blocks of games where we’ll be having a few guys who haven’t been playing much or at all have a significant role. The whole goal in our position is to evaluate what we have on this roster.

“The hard thing when you do things like this is you’re asking certain people to sacrifice roles and minutes,” Paxson continued. “It’s veteran guys. That’s never an easy thing. As I told them, I, along with [GM] Gar [Forman], we’re entrusted with the future of the organization. So these last 25 games, we’re going to evaluate what we have on this roster by playing more the guys we haven’t seen much this year.”

Let’s round up a few more Bulls notes…

  • Cameron Payne, who has missed the entire season with a foot injury, is set to make his 2017/18 debut on Thursday, writes Madeline Kenney of The Chicago Sun-Times. Payne figures to cut into Jerian Grant‘s playing time.
  • With John Paxson once again addressing reporters on Tuesday, Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times explores where Gar Forman has been “hiding” this season. According to Cowley, Paxson comes across as more “honest and transparent” than Forman, which is why the VP has handled most of the team’s media responsibilities this season. However, Forman is still very much involved in basketball operations and is by no means being pushed out of the organization.
  • Justin Holiday is trying to take his reduced role in stride, per K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. “I have to deal with it, be professional about it,” Holiday said. “Regardless of the situation or the reason, I have to carry myself a certain way because that’s how I do things. How I react and carry myself in this will be a good leadership situation for the young guys to see and follow the example if it does happen to them.”
  • The $600K fine Mark Cuban received for publicly discussing the benefits of losing is exactly why Paxson and other members of the Bulls organization will dance around the subject of tanking, says Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago.

Robin Lopez Trade Talks Intensifying

After sending Nikola Mirotic to the Pelicans last week, the Bulls remain on the lookout for more potential trades, with Robin Lopez among the candidates to be dealt. According to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune, talks centering on Lopez have “intensified” as of late, with this year’s deadline just three days away.

Lopez, 29, is averaging a career-best 12.6 PPG this season to go along with 4.8 RPG, a career-high 2.1 APG, and a .525 FG%. While Lopez’s per-minute rebounding numbers in 2017/18 are the worst of his career, he continues to be a respected defender with a reputation for effectively boxing out opponents and allowing his teammates to grab boards.

A report last week suggested that the Bulls are seeking a first-round pick in exchange for Lopez, which may be a tough sell. Although the veteran’s contract isn’t toxic, he’s Chicago’s highest-paid player, with cap hits of $13.79MM this season and $14.36MM next year. In order to have a chance at a first-rounder for Lopez, the Bulls would probably need to take on a bad contract, as they did in the Mirotic trade when they acquired Omer Asik.

Lopez isn’t the only trade candidate on the Bulls’ roster, according to Johnson, who notes that Jerian Grant continues to be available. Recently-acquired veterans Tony Allen and Jameer Nelson are also being kept on the roster in case they can be used in larger packages or traded on their own. Johnson reported over the weekend that the Bulls and Thunder have discussed Allen.

Bulls Notes: Nelson, Allen, Grant, Dunn

Newly acquired Bulls Jameer Nelson and Tony Allen shouldn’t get too comfortable in Chicago, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Both players served as salary fillers in the deal that sent Nikola Mirotic to New Orleans, and neither may remain with the Bulls after Thursday’s trade deadline.

‘‘We now have a situation where we’re invested in these young guys,’’ said VP of basketball operations John Paxson. ‘‘Our focus remains on growth and development of them. This is consistent with what we set out to do on draft night.’’

The term “young guys” doesn’t describe Nelson, who turns 36 next week, or Allen, who reached that age last month. They may be able to provide short-term help for a contender, but they don’t have a place on a rebuilding team like the Bulls. They also carry affordable, expiring deals, with salaries of about $1.43MM for Nelson and $1.47MM for Allen.

There’s more news today out of Chicago:

  • Cowley suggests in the same piece that Paxson would be willing to move anyone on the roster except Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn in exchange for a young player or draft pick, even if it means taking on a large salary in return. That’s what the Bulls did in the deal with the Pelicans, absorbing Omer Asik‘s contract to obtain a top-five protected first-rounder from New Orleans. “To acquire a [protected] first-round pick in the trade for Niko I think fits the direction this team is heading,” Paxson added. “Obviously, we’re going to have our pick, which will be a very high pick, and then we’ll see what happens with that New Orleans pick.’’
  • The Thunder have talked to the Bulls about acquiring Allen, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Oklahoma City needs defensive help in the backcourt after a ruptured patellar tendon knocked out Andre Roberson for the rest of the season. Chicago has been offering up point guard Jerian Grant around the league for several weeks, Johnson adds.
  • An illness has complicated Dunn’s return from a concussion he suffered January 17, Cowley writes in a separate story. Dunn was progressing through the early stages of concussion protocol before getting sick. He has been ruled out for Monday’s game at Sacramento and may not play again before the All-Star break. Dunn still needs to finish the protocol and get some practice time before he will be cleared to return.