Johnny O'Bryant

Bucks Cut Johnny O’Bryant

The Bucks have waived forward Johnny O’Bryant, the team announced today (via Twitter). Milwaukee now has 19 players on its preseason roster.

O’Bryant, 28, was selected 36th overall by Milwaukee in the 2014 draft and spent the first two seasons of his professional career with the Bucks. He later spent time with Denver and Charlotte, ultimately appearing in 147 NBA regular season games, averaging 3.5 PPG and 2.4 RPG in 11.5 minutes per contest.

O’Bryant has been out of the league since 2018, having spent the last several seasons playing for teams in Europe. He won an Israeli League championship with Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2019 and a Serbian Cup title with Crvena Zvezda in 2021. He also spent time with clubs in Russia and Turkey.

An earlier report stated that O’Bryant was competing for a spot on Milwaukee’s regular season roster. It appears that effort was unsuccessful, so it’s not clear what his next move will be. His deal with the team included Exhibit 10 language, so joining the Wisconsin Herd in the G League is one possible option — returning overseas is another.

Bucks Sign Johnny O’Bryant To Camp Deal

9:00pm: The Bucks have officially signed O’Bryant, per RealGM’s transactions log.


11:29am: The Bucks are adding another player to their preseason roster, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that big man Johnny O’Bryant is rejoining the team on a training camp contract. He worked out for the club earlier in the offseason.

O’Bryant, 28, was selected 36th overall by Milwaukee in the 2014 draft and spent the first two seasons of his professional career with the Bucks. He later spent time with Denver and Charlotte, ultimately appearing in 147 NBA regular season games, averaging 3.5 PPG and 2.4 RPG in 11.5 minutes per contest.

O’Bryant has been out of the league since 2018, having spent the last several seasons playing for teams in Europe. He won an Israeli League championship with Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2019 and a Serbian Cup title with Crvena Zvezda in 2021. He also spent time with clubs in Russia and Turkey.

O’Bryant will get the opportunity to compete for a roster spot in Milwaukee, according to Charania. The team currently has 13 players on fully guaranteed contracts, so there could be a path to a spot on the regular season squad for the veteran. However, rookie Georgios Kalaitzakis has a partial guarantee, which probably gives him a leg up to be the 14th man, and the Bucks may not carry a 15th player at the start of the season due to tax concerns.

Central Notes: Griffin, O’Bryant, Karnisovas, Sexton

Blake Griffin admits being upset over internet rumors that he wasn’t giving 100% during his time with the Pistons last season, writes Andrew Hammond of The Detroit Free Press. Griffin, who joined the Nets after agreeing to a buyout with Detroit in February, addressed that topic during an appearance on J.J. Redick‘s podcast, “The Old Man and the Three.”

“It bothered me,” Griffin said. “Because the stat was, he hadn’t dunked in 400-something days … sure.” 

Griffin pointed out that the number is misleading because the Pistons weren’t part of the NBA’s restart in Orlando in the summer of 2020 and he only played 20 more games for Detroit before the buyout. He laughed off the criticism, but Hammond believes he was irritated by the narrative that formed.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Bucks were among several teams that worked out veteran center Johnny O’Bryant, according to Jeff Garcia of Locked on Spurs (hat tip to Dalton Sell of FanSided). The 28-year-old spent four years in the NBA, but has been out of the league since the 2017/18 season. He has been playing overseas and spent last season in the Turkish League. Milwaukee, which drafted O’Bryant in 2014, has two openings on its training camp roster. The Nets and Warriors also hosted workouts for O’Bryant, according to Garcia.
  • Arturas Karnisovas is keeping his promise to not accept mediocrity on the Bulls‘ roster, observes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Cowley notes that Zach LaVine and Coby White are the only players still remaining from when Karnisovas took over as executive vice president of basketball operations in April of 2020. Cowley expects the changes to continue as Chicago tries to break a four-year playoff drought.
  • On his Instagram account, Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton claims that team officials were crying during his 2018 pre-draft workout because they had lost to the Warriors in the NBA Finals the day before.

And-Ones: Draft Interviews, Offseason, O’Bryant, Jersey Ads

Six executives around the league recalled the worst interview answers they’ve received from draft prospects in a story with Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, also examining responses to character questions and insane comparisons from players.

“It’s just amazing how these guys don’t realize this is a job interview, and this isn’t a recruiting process,” one longtime executive said. “You’re not coming in here, and we’re going to tell you how good you are. That’s what trips a lot of them up.”

As Scotto examines, one executive asked a prospect during an interview if he did drugs. The player gave a surprisingly honest response to the question.

“He said he did ecstasy,” the executive said. “We asked him where he got the money for the drugs. He said, ‘They paid me to come to this school, so that’s where I got the money.’ Needless to say, he was red-flagged from our list.”

Teams naturally expect a level of honesty from prospects during pre-draft interviews. Unfortunately, some players have missed the mark on just how honest and descriptive their answers should be.

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Bobby Marks of ESPN examines a number of trade and free-agency questions that could reshape the NBA this offseason. Marks explores how executives are viewing this free-agent class, the chances of Giannis Antetokounmpo staying in Milwaukee long-term, and more.
  • Free agent Johnny O’Bryant has signed in Serbia with KK Crvena Zvezda, according to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia (Twitter link). Christos Harpidis of Bet Corner News first reported (via Twitter) that the sides had reached an agreement. O’Bryant, 27, has made past NBA stops with Milwaukee, Denver and Charlotte, spending last season in Russia.
  • The NBA has seen success with its jersey ad program, Jabari Young of CNBC writes. The league has generated more than $150MM from the program, with all 30 teams having entered into an agreement with a sponsor in recent years.

And-Ones: Telfair, Georges-Hunt, O’Bryant, Re-Draft

Former high school basketball prodigy and NBA veteran Sebastian Telfair was sentenced on Monday to three and a half years in prison in his New York City gun case, per The Associated Press. Telfair, 34, was convicted earlier this year of carrying a loaded handgun in his pickup truck.

This was not Telfair’s first brush with the law nor his first incident involving a loaded weapon. He and a friend were arrested in 2007 after a traffic stop during which police found a loaded handgun in the vehicle. He pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a weapon and was sentenced to three years’ probation.

While he never lived up to the hype from his prep career, Telfair did have a relatively successful NBA career. He played 564 games over 10 seasons and averaged 7.4 PPG and 3.5 APG.

There’s more NBA-related news to pass along this evening:

  • Former Magic and Timberwolves guard Marcus Georges-Hunt, now fully healthy, recently worked out for the Nuggets as he looks to work his way back to the NBA. According to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, the fully healthy 25-year-old Georgia Tech product also has several other workouts lined up the rest of the month.
  • As first reported by Donatas Urbonas (Twitter link), top EuroLeague free agent and former NBA player Johnny O’Bryant has signed with Lokomotiv Krasnodar (Twitter link) of the Russian VTB United League. O’Bryant, a second-round pick in the 2014 NBA draft, played four seasons in the NBA with the BucksNuggets, and Hornets.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic would draft Bucks forward and 2018/19 MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jazz big man Rudy Gobert, and Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum with the top three picks in a re-draft of the 2013 NBA Draft. None of the three went higher than No. 10 overall six years ago.

Johnny O’Bryant To Play In Israel

Former Bucks, Nuggets, and Hornets forward Johnny O’Bryant will continue his playing career overseas. According to an announcement from the team (hat tip to Sportando), O’Bryant has signed a one-year contract to join Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv.

“Johnny is a great addition for our team” Maccabi head coach Neven Spahija said in a statement. “He has experience in the NBA and he will a key role in the roster. I hope that together with him we’ll make another jump this season. He’s a hard worker and a great man.”

O’Bryant, a second-round pick in the 2014 NBA draft, spent two seasons with the Bucks before being waived. After a training-camp stint with the Wizards in 2016, the former LSU standout signed multiple 10-day contracts with the Nuggets and Hornets in 2017, eventually landing a multiyear deal with Charlotte.

The 6’9″ forward averaged 4.8 PPG and 2.6 RPG in 36 games (10.5 MPG) for the Hornets last season before he was included in the deadline deal that sent Knicks big man Willy Hernangomez to Charlotte. Having been acquired by New York in the trade, O’Bryant was subsequently waived.

This will be O’Bryant’s first stint overseas.

And-Ones: Kelly, O’Bryant, Leonard, Booker, Curry

Former Lakers and Hawks forward Ryan Kelly has signed a contract to play for SunRockeres Shibuya of Japan next season, according to a Sportando report. Kelly spent last season with Real Betis in Spain and averaged 13.3 PPG and 4.5 RPG.

Kelly, 27, last appeared in the NBA during the 2016/17 season with Atlanta, when he saw action in 16 games. He spent his first three seasons with the Lakers. The 6’11” power forward has averaged 6.0 PPG and 3.1 RPG in 19.2 MPG in his 163-game NBA career.

In other basketball news domestically and overseas:

  • Maccabi Tel Aviv is close to signing power forward Johnny O’Bryant, according to another Sportando report. O’Bryant, 25, played 36 games last season with the Hornets, averaging 4.6 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 10.5 MPG. O’Bryant, 25, was traded to the Knicks in February and then waived. The 6’9” O’Bryant has also played for the Nuggets and Bucks, who selected him 36th overall in the 2014 draft.
  • Kawhi Leonard, Devin Booker, Victor Oladipo and Ben Simmons are among the dark-horse candidates to win the Most Valuable Player award, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. A healthy Leonard would quickly become a prime MVP candidate, O’Connor opines, while Booker could have a breakout campaign after showing steady progress in his first three seasons.
  • DeMarcus Cousins (Warriors) and Isaiah Thomas (Nuggets) are obvious choices as the best bargains in free agency but as Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated notes, there are several other players who could fall into that category. Ed Davis (Nets), Seth Curry (Trail Blazers) and Brook Lopez (Bucks) should all provide production that far outweigh the deals that they signed, in Mahoney’s view.

Knicks Waive Johnny O’Bryant

FEBRUARY 8: The Knicks have officially waived O’Bryant, the team announced today (via Twitter).

FEBRUARY 7: The Knicks don’t intend to keep the player they acquired from the Hornets in the Willy Hernangomez trade, according to GM Scott Perry, who told reporters today that forward Johnny O’Bryant will be waived (Twitter link via Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv).

[RELATED: Knicks trade Willy Hernangomez to Hornets]

O’Bryant, 24, appeared in 36 games for Charlotte this season, averaging 4.8 PPG and 2.6 RPG in 10.5 minutes per contest. Before joining the Hornets as a free agent last March, the former LSU standout had also spent time with the Bucks and Nuggets over the course of his four-year NBA career.

Although Hernangomez has a modest $1.4MM cap hit, he’s earning more than the minimum, so the Hornets couldn’t have used the minimum salary exception to acquire him. With no cap space or trade exceptions available, Charlotte had to send out O’Bryant for salary-matching purposes. The Hornets will be ineligible to re-sign the young forward if and when he clears waivers.

As for the Knicks, the decision to cut O’Bryant signals that the Hernangomez was all about landing those two future second-round picks. New York will keep O’Bryant’s $1.52MM cap hit on the books, assuming he goes unclaimed on waivers, and will open up a spot on their 15-man roster once the transaction becomes official.

2018 Free Agent Stock Watch: Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets are committed to a core that hasn’t been able to get the franchise over the hump and likely won’t be able to do so as key components of the rotation age out of their primes.

Much of the organization’s most recent woes can be attributed to injuries and health-related struggles but week-by-week that plucky, purple-shirt-guy-inspired squad that pushed the Heat to seven games in the first-round of the 2016 postseason seems like a distant memory.

Making matters worse for Hornets fans is that there isn’t exactly help in sight. The club projects to break camp close to $20MM over the salary cap and the contracts set to come off their books don’t represent much relief.

Michael Carter-Williams of the Charlotte Hornets verticalMichael Carter-Williams, PG, 26 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.7MM deal in 2017
Desperate for a reliable backup point guard, the Hornets tried their luck on a former Rookie of the Year. Still just 26 years old, Carter-Williams was an intriguing option to be had for the minimum but bringing him back after a (thus far) career-worst shooting year is a different story. In theory Carter-Williams can fill the stat sheet if given an opportunity, but it’s hard to imagine he’s moved the needle enough at this point in the season to convince the front office to bring him back.

Johnny O’Bryant, PF, 24 (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $1.7MM deal in 2017
The Hornets, in need of healthy bodies to round out their rotation, have plugged O’Bryant into a bigger role of late and the forward has done a respectable job of producing in the time that he’s been given. If Charlotte continues to struggle in 2018, expect the organization to feature their younger players more often. That’s a perfect recipe for O’Bryant to make his case as one of the few in-house growth opportunities the franchise has available.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southeast Notes: Wall, Belinelli, Heat, Hornets

Wizards point guard John Wall hasn’t taken the court since November 22, having received platelet-rich plasma and viscosupplementation injections in his left knee a few days after that. While Wall’s return isn’t imminent, it’s getting close, according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. A source tells Buckner that Wall could get back in the lineup by the middle of next week.

The Wizards’ initial timeline for Wall projected a two-week recovery, which would have put him on track to return this weekend. However, as that same source tells Buckner, the club’s All-Star point guard needs a little more time to get healthy.

Here’s more from around the Southeast division:

  • Hawks sharpshooter Marco Belinelli will be eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2018, and recently told Massimo Lopes Pegna of La Gazzetta dello Sport (English link via Sportando) that his goal is to sign a two- or three-year contract. Belinelli left the door open for a possible return to Europe down the road, but it would be a surprise if he left the NBA anytime soon — he’s still just 31 years old, and his .393 3PT% will appeal to potential suitors.
  • The Heat entered this season hoping that their 30-11 second-half record last year was more indicative of their true talent level than their 11-30 first half. So far though, they’ve essentially split the difference, with an 11-13 mark. As the club struggles to get above .500, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald explores whether it was a misstep to give lucrative, long-term deals to James Johnson and Dion Waiters.
  • With Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky both sidelined due to injuries, the Hornets will have to make some adjustments to their frontcourt rotation, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer, who identifies Johnny O’Bryant and Mangok Mathiang as two players who could benefit. O’Bryant is in the final year of his minimum-salary deal with Charlotte, while Mathiang is on a two-way contract — he was transferred back to the Hornets today.