Jordan McRae

Eastern Notes: Pistons, Bulls, Rozier, Knox

The Pistons began their in-market training camp on Wednesday with several players from their G League affiliate participating, according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News (Twitter link). Tre’Shawn Thurman, Tra-Deon Hollins, Adam Woodbury, Khalil Iverson, and Craig Sword all played with the Grand Rapids Drive this season.

Beard also reports (via Twitter) that Pistons center Justin Patton had surgery Tuesday to repair a fractured right pinky finger. Additionally, Tony Snell returned home for personal reasons, and Jordan McRae will not be participating in the team portion of the in-market camp.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Bulls have reportedly hired Vanja Cernivec as an international scout, per Daniel Greenberg (Twitter link; h/t Real GM). Cernivec spent the last five years working in the NBA’s office in Spain as manager of basketball operations. He also played professional basketball in Slovenia.
  • After wrapping up his first season with the Hornets, Terry Rozier is ready to take on a larger role, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. “I’ve had a lot of time over six months to figure out how I can be a better leader: Get to the guys, talk to them how they like it,” Rozier said. The combo guard averaged 18.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG, and 4.1 APG this season, after inking a three-year free-agent deal last summer with Charlotte. Rozier also spoke about how hard its been not being able to play in an organized game in six months. “I’m not going to sugar-coat and say, ‘Ah, six months is nothing.’ It’s been tough on all of us.”
  • Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau is hoping that assistant coach Kenny Payne can help unlock Kevin Knox‘s potential, writes Marc Berman of the New Post. Knox has struggled to find his footing since being selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft. This season, he averaged a modest 6.4 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 17.9 MPG, but Thibodeau has been impressed with the 21-year-old in the team’s in-market training camp. “Kevin’s come in and he’s done quite a bit of work,’’ Thibodeau said. “I’m getting to know him and he’s getting to know me and it will take some time. But I like what he’s done so far.”

Central Notes: Bucks, Boylen, Pistons, McRae

If the 2019/20 season can’t be resumed, few – if any – teams will be hit harder than the Bucks, who had an NBA-best 53-12 record before the league’s hiatus began. For now though, the club is still operating as if it will get a chance to resume play and pursue a championship, as Eric Woodyard of ESPN details.

“We are operating and functioning and just have a mentality that we will play,” Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said on Wednesday in a conference call. “… Luckily, Adam Silver and the league office, they’ll make the hard decisions and they’ll do what’s best for everybody, but I think it’s certainly important that we kind of operate and have a mentality that we will play again, and we’ll be excited about that if and when it does happen.”

While Budenholzer admitted that he has been using some of his unexpected time off to catch up on TV shows like ‘Ozark’ and ‘Game of Thrones,’ he has also been spending plenty of time studying potential playoff opponents. As Woodyard relays, the Bucks’ head coach has focused on Brooklyn and Orlando, but is also looking at film on possible Eastern Conference opponents beyond the first round.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago doesn’t believe that the new front office executive eventually hired by the Bulls will be given a mandate to retain Jim Boylen as his head coach. President/COO Michael Reinsdorf and VP of basketball operations John Paxson have been highly supportive of Boylen, but if Chicago’s top front office candidate makes it clear he wants to hire a new coach, that shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, Johnson writes.
  • James L. Edwards III and John Hollinger of The Athletic teamed up for an in-depth look at the Pistons‘ future, exploring which players should be long-term fixtures. In Hollinger’s view, no one on the current roster is capable of being the best player on a good team down the road, including Sekou Doumbouya.
  • Appearing on the Wizards Talk podcast with NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller, Pistons guard Jordan McRae spoke about his experience being quarantined after teammate Christian Wood tested positive for COVID-19. McRae also shared the story of how he indirectly predicted his trade out of Washington at February’s deadline.

Pistons Notes: Griffin, Doumbouya, McRae, Brown

Pistons forward Blake Griffin hasn’t discussed his future with the team’s front office since the franchise went into full rebuild mode, he told the Detroit Free Press. Griffin is making good progress from the arthroscopic debridement of his left knee he underwent in January, the second surgical procedure he had on the knee in less than nine months.

“My focus is on what I can control and that’s my rehab and getting back on the court,” he said. “When the time comes, I’ll have that conversation but I don’t think that time is right now.”

Griffin’s latest rehab has gone well and he expects to do his usual offseason training regimen. His guaranteed $36.8MM cap charge for next season and a ’21/22 player option worth nearly $39MM will be nearly impossible to move in a trade.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Rookie first-rounder Sekou Doumbouya was assigned to the Pistons’ G League affiliate in Grand Rapids on Friday for a simple reason. “Sekou needs to play. He needs to play as much as anything,” coach Dwane Casey said. “I’ve had other players who are now stars in this league play (their first) two years doing the same thing. There’s no disrespect going down there.” Doumbouya showed his potential by reaching double digits in points seven times during an eight-game stretch in January but he’s only scored in double digits once since that outburst.
  • Guard Jordan McRae, who was claimed off waivers earlier this week, has a favorable early impression of the organization. McRae will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and hopes to establish some roots after playing for three teams this season. “We haven’t talking about anything like that,” McRae said of whether Detroit plans to re-sign him. “I’ve been to a lot of places and this is top-notch. If this is the place I could make a home, I would love to.”
  • Guard Bruce Brown has missed the last four games due to a sore left knee but he’s expected to return against Utah on Saturday. Brown has practiced this week and Casey thought he’d play against Oklahoma City on Wednesday but the medical staff decided he needed a little more time.

Central Notes: Brogdon, Porter Jr., McRae, Mokoka

When the Pacers play the Bulls on Friday night, they could be without a few notable players, including Malcolm Brogdon.

Brogdon is dealing with a left hip injury that limited him to only 11 minutes of game action on Wednesday night against the Bucks. The former Rookie of the Year award winner got an MRI and did not practice on Thursday, according to J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star.

In 48 games this season, Brogdon is averaging 16.3 PPG, 7.1 APG, and 4.7 RPG. He is also shooting 43.9% from the field and a career-low 31.3% from three-point range.

Along with Brogdon, T.J. Warren, Doug McDermott, and JaKarr Sampson are all questionable for tomorrow’s contest.

Here’s more from out of the Central:

  • The Cavaliers announced on Thursday that rookie Kevin Porter Jr. was placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol after suffering a head injury on Wednesday night against the Celtics. His status to return is unclear. The late first-round pick is averaging 10 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and 2.2 APG this season.
  • Who is Adam Mokoka? If you asked Bulls fans earlier this season, they might not be able to answer that question. Fast-forward to March, and the 21-year-old is starting to carve out a role for himself with Chicago. Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago looks at the road the Bulls’ two-player has taken from his early playing days in France, Serbia, and now Chicago.
  • With the Pistons potentially gearing up for a rebuild, newly-acquired guard Jordan McRae will get an opportunity to show Detroit’s front-office brass that he’s a keeper, writes Ron Beard of the Detroit News. McRae scored 15 points in his debut on Wednesday night against the Thunder.

Pistons Claim Jordan McRae Off Waivers

4:15pm: The waiver process is complete and McRae belongs to the Pistons, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

3:07pm: The Pistons intend to claim guard Jordan McRae off waivers this afternoon, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

After reaching a buyout agreement with Denver on Sunday, McRae was officially released and appeared to be headed to Phoenix, with the Suns planning to place a waiver claim of their own. However, with Derrick Rose on the shelf due to an ankle injury, the Pistons were said to be eyeing McRae for backcourt depth.

Because the waiver priority order is determined by the NBA’s reverse standings, Detroit (20-42) will be awarded McRae over Phoenix (24-38) if both teams submit claims. Technically, one of the five teams with a worse record than the Pistons could swoop in and steal McRae, but there has been no indication that will happen.

A fourth-year shooting guard, McRae was putting up the best numbers of his career in D.C. this season, recording 12.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, and 2.8 APG on .420/.377/.371 shooting for the Wizards, though injuries limited him to just 29 games. He was sent to Denver in a deadline deal for Shabazz Napier and averaged just 8.0 MPG in four games for the Nuggets, who have an overcrowded rotation.

The two sides reached a deal on Sunday that allowed McRae to get a new opportunity, with the Nuggets opening up a roster spot and saving some money. Although the 28-year-old agreed to surrender $390,424 of his minimum salary, that agreement will be negated by the Pistons’ waiver claim. Detroit will simply take on McRae’s $1,645,357 expiring contract, which will come off Denver’s books. The Pistons will be on the hook for paying the prorated salary remaining on the deal, while the Nuggets’ financial obligation will be extinguished.

By claiming McRae off waivers, the Pistons will get his Early Bird rights, which will give them added flexibility to re-sign him this summer. No corresponding roster move will be necessary for Detroit, since the team has an open spot after letting Derrick Walton‘s 10-day contract expire earlier this week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Western Notes: Conley, Turner, Howard, Suns

After a long, successful run with the Grizzlies, Mike Conley was viewed heading into this season as the player who was going to help turn the Jazz from a solid playoff team into a bona fide contender. However, it has been an up-and-down first season in Utah for Conley, who is averaging just 13.5 PPG on 39.8% shooting.

Speaking to Tony Jones of The Athletic, Conley admitted he hasn’t been able to entirely block out the criticism he has faced this season, and that he understands that criticism.

“Nobody is more frustrated than me,” Conley said. “Not the fans, not the media, not my teammates. I’m not a guy who runs from looking in the mirror. But, at this point, I have to control what I can control. I have to stay locked in. I have to focus on what I can handle. I know what’s being said. But in a big way, it’s not in my control what people may think.”

As Conley gears up for the home stretch and looks to become a consistent, reliable contributor for the Jazz, let’s round up a few more notes from around the Western Conference…

  • The Timberwolves and Evan Turner “came close” to reaching a buyout agreement by Sunday night, but couldn’t finalize a deal, tweets Darren Wolfson of SKOR North. According to Wolfson, Turner would still like to play this season, but that seems unlikely to happen with the Wolves, who are prioritizing the players they expect to be longer-term pieces.
  • Discussing Dwight Howard‘s initial stint with the Lakers, team owner Jeanie Buss singled out former Lakers – and current Rockets – head coach Mike D’Antoni as a reason why the veteran center didn’t succeed and chose to leave in free agency. “We hired a coach that didn’t respect his game and wasn’t going to put him in a position to succeed,” Buss said (video link via The Los Angeles Times).
  • Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic examines how Jordan McRae could fit with the Suns this season and potentially beyond. Phoenix reportedly intends to place a waiver claim on McRae, but there’s a possibility Detroit will do so as well, and the Pistons would have the higher priority.
  • NBA fans interested in the league’s salary cap minutiae will enjoy Jeff Siegel’s latest article at Early Bird Rights, which details the unusual case of the Kings‘ buyout agreement with Anthony Tolliver and explains why it could indirectly cost the Trail Blazers a little money.

Derrick Rose Out At Least Two Weeks; Pistons Eyeing Jordan McRae

11:59am: The Pistons have issued a press release confirming that Rose has been diagnosed with a grade two right ankle sprain. He’ll be re-evaluated in two weeks, according to the team.

11:07am: An MRI on Derrick Rose‘s sprained right ankle came back negative, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. However, sources tell Haynes that the Pistons will be cautious with Rose’s injury and that he’ll be reassessed in “a few weeks.”

Rose, who received interest from contenders at the trade deadline, has a second year on his contract with Detroit, so the Pistons will want to make sure he’s as healthy as possible heading into the offseason — the former MVP will either play a key role on next year’s team or be a valuable trade chip this summer. Rose is expected to make a full recovery from his ankle injury, Haynes notes.

As the Pistons consider handing the reins to their young players for the rest of the season, they’re also keeping an eye on Jordan McRae, according to Haynes. Released by the Nuggets on Sunday night, McRae is expected to be claimed off waivers by the Suns on Wednesday.

However, based on Haynes’ report, it sounds like Detroit is mulling a waiver claim of its own. Because they trail Phoenix in the NBA standings, the Pistons would have the higher priority and would be awarded McRae if both teams submit a claim.

If the Pistons were to place a claim on McRae, no corresponding roster move would be necessary, since they have room on their 15-man roster.

Buyout Details: Crabbe, McRae, Tolliver

Allen Crabbe surrendered $681,544 in his buyout agreement with the Timberwolves, according to reports from Dane Moore of ZoneCoverage.com and Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights (Twitter links). That’s more than the veteran wing would earn if he signs a rest-of-season deal with a new team after clearing waivers, but it wasn’t quite enough to get Minnesota below the luxury-tax threshold, as Moore and Siegel note.

If the Timberwolves are dead-set on getting out of tax territory, buying out Evan Turner remains a possible path, but it appears less likely now that he would no longer retain his playoff eligibility if he’s released.

The Timberwolves’ other option for sneaking below the tax line would be to cut a little-used player who is likely to be claimed on waivers, like Miami did at the end of last season with Rodney McGruder. That’s a risky alternative though, since any player valuable enough to be claimed on waivers probably isn’t someone Minnesota wants to lose.

Here are more details on the latest round of buyouts from around the NBA:

  • Jordan McRae agreed to give up $390,424 in his buyout from the Nuggets, per Siegel (via Twitter). That’s the equivalent of McRae’s $1,645,357 salary prorated over 42 days. However, if the Suns claim McRae off waivers, as they’re expected to, the buyout agreement will be unnecessary and won’t apply to his cap hit — he’ll simply continue earning the rest of his remaining salary for 2019/20 in Phoenix instead of Denver.
  • Anthony Tolliver gave back $144,901 as part of his buyout from the Kings, according to Siegel. That’s the equivalent of the 10-day salary for a veteran with 10+ years of NBA experience. Tolliver’s cap hit on Sacramento’s books ($1,620,564) will remain unchanged, since the NBA is reimbursing a portion of his minimum salary. However, the Kings will save a little cash as a result of the agreement.
  • Our recap of the 2020 buyout market can be found right here.

Suns Intend To Claim Jordan McRae

The Suns intend to put a waiver claim on guard Jordan McRae, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

McRae and the Nuggets reached a buyout agreement on Sunday, with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reporting that Phoenix would likely be his destination.

McRae, 28, started the season with Washington and was traded to Denver last month. He averaged 12.8 points in 29 games with the Wizards, shooting 42% from the floor and 38% from 3-point range.

The Suns have lost three straight games and currently own the third-worst record in the Western Conference at 24-37. McRae previously spent time with Phoenix back in 2016, signing two 10-day contracts with the organization.

Because McRae is on a minimum-salary contract, the Suns can use the minimum salary exception to place a claim on him. Doing so will give the team his Early Bird rights at season’s end, and won’t cost any extra money, since Phoenix will only have to pay the prorated salary left on his deal. The Nuggets, meanwhile, will get to remove McRae’s cap hit from their books entirely, giving them some extra flexibility below the tax line.

Jordan McRae Agrees To Buyout With Nuggets, Expected To Join Suns

Jordan McRae has reached a buyout agreement with the Nuggets, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who adds that the Suns are his “likely destination.”

McRae has barely played in Denver since being acquired from the Wizards at the trade deadline. He appeared in four games, averaging 2.3 points and 8.0 minutes of playing time. He put up a career-best 12.8 PPG in 29 games with Washington before the deal.

Mike Singer of The Denver Post speculates (via Twitter) that the Nuggets are releasing McRae more as a favor to him than for any other reason. The team already had an open spot on its roster, so it didn’t need to create another one. McRae simply didn’t have a role in Denver.

Phoenix also has an opening on its roster after waiving Tyler Johnson and electing not to sign Jonah Bolden to a second 10-day contract, notes Gina Mizell of The Athletic (Twitter link). If the Suns are planning to sign McRae, they have the option of claiming him off waivers to obtain his Early Bird rights, adds ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

If the Suns do decide to claim McRae, his cap hit would no longer be included on Denver’s books and a buyout agreement wouldn’t be necessary — Phoenix would simply absorb his minimum-salary contract.

Today marks the final day that players can be waived and still be eligible for the postseason with their new team.