Jordan McRae

Wizards Notes: McRae, Brooks, Porter, Cousins

Two-way player Jordan McRae showed off his scoring prowess in Tuesday’s loss to the Cavaliers, writes Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington. The G League’s top scorer this season at 29.8 PPG, McRae hit all five of his shots from the field, finished with 15 points and was part of a reserve unit that led a huge fourth-quarter rally.

McRae had prior NBA opportunities in Phoenix and Cleveland before signing with the Wizards in September. Defense and attitude remain concerns, Standig notes, but there’s no question about his ability to provide a spark on offense.

“I think it’s just about [Jordan’s] mentality,” said Jarell Christian, head coach of Washington’s Capital City G League affiliate. “When he’s thrown into a game on the next level, still being able to function without getting the ball every possession.”

McRae has been waiting all season for an NBA opportunity, but has watched the Wizards go in other directions. They signed Ron Baker in December, then gave a 10-day contract to Gary Payton II last week.

There’s more from Washington:

  • Coach Scott Brooks made a statement by sticking with a patchwork lineup in the final seconds of Tuesday’s game, notes Fred Katz of The Athletic. McRae teamed with Payton, Troy Brown, Sam Dekker and Thomas Bryant to overcome a 25-point deficit with seven minutes to play. Brooks gave that unit a chance to tie the game at the end instead of turning to his regulars. “They played harder than the (starters),” Brooks said afterward. “And our starters didn’t play hard enough. That’s the bottom line.”
  • Otto Porter Jr. has adapted well to his new sixth man role, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. A starter for the past four years, Porter joined the reserve unit in early January because he was on a minutes restriction while returning from a quadriceps injury. He has accepted the backup spot despite being the team’s highest-paid player. “I mean, of course everybody in the NBA wants to start,” Porter said. “It’s an earned position, but at the same time, for the better of the team, you have to take sacrifices. And that’s what I’ve been doing.”
  • The Wizards had discussions with DeMarcus Cousins when he was a free agent last summer, but the sides were never close to a deal, Buckner relays in a separate story. Cousins turned aside questions during the Warriors’ appearance in Washington this week, but Brooks offered an explanation of what happened. “I think the conversation took place but it was his decision,” Brooks said. “When we made the trade [with Marcin] Gortat, we needed somebody now. We couldn’t afford to wait five or six months or four months into the season. We needed a live, active player that was ready to start the season.”

Wizards Notes: McRae, Beal, Leonsis, Grunfeld

Jordan McRae‘s 54-point outburst in the G League probably won’t get him a standard NBA contract even though the Wizards have a roster spot to fill, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. McRae signed a two-way deal with Washington in September, but has only appeared in eight NBA games with minimal playing time.

With his Capital City team short-handed Friday, McRae took over the offense and poured in the most points in a G League game this season. McRae is averaging 29.5 PPG in the G League and set the league’s single-game record with 61 points in 2016.

Still, the Wizards are more likely to add a player on a 10-day contract than convert McRae’s deal, a source tells Buckner. Washington has been at 13 players since waiving Ron Baker on January 7 and has until Monday to get back to the league minimum.

Financial considerations are also working against McRae. Giving him a standard contract for the rest of the season would increase the Wizards’ projected luxury tax bill by about $1.2MM, Buckner estimates, much more than a series of players on 10-day deals.

There’s more Wizards news to pass along:

  • Bradley Beal will be one of the hottest names on the trade market if the Wizards decide to move him, and Ken Berger of Bleacher Report examines the best potential fits. A rival executive told Berger that the Raptors might be willing to offer Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright and a first-round pick, while the Celtics could part with Jaylen Brown, a first-rounder and either Marcus Morris or Aron Baynes and the Pacers might get involved with an offer of Darren Collison, Myles Turner and a first-rounder. Washington has denied that Beal is available, but the team’s future tax situation could affect the decision if the Wizards slip further out of the playoff race.
  • Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, who pledged earlier this week that the team will never tank, elaborates on those comments in a story by Buckner and Scott Allen. Leonsis points to the Sixers, who spent several years trying to rebuild by obtaining high lottery picks, and notes that only Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid panned out. “So, you know, that process is pretty risky in and of itself,” he said. “I don’t think you can tell players, coaches, staff: ‘Don’t make the playoffs and tank!’”
  • In the same piece, Leonsis addresses fan anger with team president Ernie Grunfeld, who has been running the organization since 2003. “You live with it every day when you own a sports team,” said Leonsis, who also owns Washington’s Stanley Cup-winning NHL franchise. “All I have to do is look at last year with the Capitals. ‘Fire the coach. Fire the GM. Trade Alex Ovechkin. Trade Nick Backstrom.’ And that turned out okay. So, yes, I see all the things on Twitter. I read everything. I’m not all that happy with our performance, but you have to make non-emotional [decisions], what’s right for the franchise, what’s right for the team.”

Wizards Notes: Roster Opening, McRae, Wall, Porter

After waiving Chasson Randle on Monday, the Wizards are now once again the only team in the NBA with two open roster spots. As we noted last night, the team will have to fill the 14th spot on its roster within the next two weeks, but Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington says not to expect any sort of major move.

Instead, the Wizards could take their time to re-add a 14th player, saving a little money on their projected luxury tax bill every day they keep that roster spot open. When they do get around to signing someone, Randle could be an option to rejoin the team, since he figures to remain in the organization with the Capital City Go-Go, as Standig observes. Following Randle’s release, Scott Brooks said the young guard is “definitely an NBA player.”

Two-way player Jordan McRae has also been cited as a candidate to join the Wizards’ 15-man roster, but he’s dealing with a groin injury at the moment, a source tells Standig. McRae is expected to be available later this week.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • Jeremy Woo of SI.com lays out the case for why trading John Wall might be in the Wizards’ best long-term interests, pointing to teams like the Heat and Suns as potential trade partners. Woo is the second national reporter to make this argument this month, and his points are similar to ones ESPN’s Zach Lowe made last week — Bradley Beal is too valuable to move him, and Otto Porter wouldn’t bring back much in return.
  • Speaking of Porter, the Wizards’ highest-paid player was on the bench in the fourth quarter for a third straight game on Monday, as Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington details. Porter has been shooting well from three-point range lately, but Scott Brooks wants to see a more well-rounded game from the forward, particularly on defense, says Standig. “It’s just the way it is,” Brooks said when asked about Porter on Monday. “Some games Otto is not going to have good games. Tonight isn’t one of them. He’ll bounce back. The guy is a winner. He knows how to play.”
  • If the Wizards don’t get back up to .500, they’d join an ignominious group of taxpaying teams with losing records, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic.
  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report recently spoke to executives and agents to get their thoughts on how to fix the struggling Wizards.
  • In case you missed it on Monday, several teams around the NBA are reportedly keeping a close eye on the Wizards to see if they make role players like Markieff Morris, Kelly Oubre, or Jeff Green available via trade.

Wizards Likely To Promote From Within To Fill Roster Opening

After carrying just 13 players on standard NBA contracts for two weeks to open the 2018/19 season, the Wizards now face a deadline to add a 14th player to their roster. The team is considered “highly likely” to fill that opening by promoting a player from within the organization, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

As Hughes details, two-way players Jordan McRae and Devin Robinson are candidates to receive an NBA roster spot, but they’re not the only options for Washington. The Wizards may also consider calling up a player from their new G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go.

Lavoy Allen, Chasson Randle, Chris Chiozza, and Tiwian Kendley all spent time with the Wizards during the preseason before being waived and heading to the G League, so they’d be the top candidates for a promotion. Both Allen and Randle have previous NBA experience.

NBA teams are generally required to carry at least 14 players on their 15-man regular season rosters, but league rules allow clubs to carry less than that amount for up to two weeks at a time. Because the Wizards have only had 13 players under contract since setting their opening-night roster, those two weeks are just about up.

Whichever player fills that 14th slot on the roster seems unlikely to get a guaranteed contract. The Wizards, who are off to a 1-5 start and have had the league’s worst defense so far, will probably want to maintain flexibility to add roster reinforcements via free agency or a trade down the road.

Southeast Notes: Heat, Clifford, McRae, Wizards

Heat president Pat Riley met with the team’s players this week and explained that he is “pulling the plug” on a potential Jimmy Butler trade, according to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. Riley did not state a future trade was completely off the table.

The Heat and Timberwolves have discussed several packages centered around Butler in recent weeks, with Minnesota eager to acquire young players Josh Richardson and Bam Adebayo in any potential deal. The Athletic’s Shams Charania (link) first reported the Heat’s plans to start the season with its current roster.

Butler played in the Timberwolves’ season opener in San Antonio on Wednesday, competing alongside Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns in the starting five. His grit-and-grind style appeals to a hardworking team like the Heat, explaining their longstanding interest in his services. It’s unclear whether Miami will revisit these discussions with Minnesota before the NBA’s trading deadline.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

Wizards Sign Jordan McRae To Two-Way Deal

SEPTEMBER 11: Washington has officially signed McRae, according to the RealGM transactions log.

AUGUST 9: The Wizards plan to sign Jordan McRae to a two-way contract, Marc Stein of The New York Times reports. The 2014 second-round pick last saw NBA action with the Cavaliers during the 2016/17 season.

McRae, now 27 years old, didn’t make much of an impact during his first two NBA stints with the Cavs and Suns after getting drafted by the Spurs, though he did win a title with Cleveland. He’ll return to the Association after an abbreviated stint playing professionally in Spain.

The shooting guard will occupy Washington’s second two-way slot, with the other currently held by small forward Devin Robinson.

Western Notes: Clippers, Nuggets, Bjelica, Musa

The Clippers will bring in some first-round candidates for a pre-draft group workout on Wednesday, league sources tell Michael Scotto of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to Scotto, Miles Bridges (Michigan State), Kevin Knox (Kentucky), Aaron Holiday (UCLA), and Mitchell Robinson will participate in the session.

The Clippers currently hold the 12th and 13th overall picks in the draft, presenting a number of potential opportunities and directions for the club. Bridges and Knox are viewed as two potential lottery picks who may still be on the board at No. 12, while Holiday and Robinson are ranked slightly lower on most big boards.

Let’s round up a few more Western Conference notes…

  • Speaking last week to reporters, Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said the team will target a strong defensive player with two-way versatility with the No. 14 pick, and didn’t rule out the possibility of trading or waiving highly-paid players to maintain cap flexibility. Matt L. Stephens of The Denver Post has the story and the quotes.
  • The Jazz and Suns are among the teams that could show interest in power forward Nemanja Bjelica this summer, a source tells Orazio Cauchi of Sportando. Bjelica is eligible for restricted free agency, so the Timberwolves have the chance to match any offer he receives, assuming they extend a qualifying offer.
  • Bosnian wing Dzanan Musa, a potential first-round pick who will be keeping his name in the 2018 NBA draft, has workouts on tap with the Trail Blazers, Nuggets, Spurs, and Jazz, tweets Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports.
  • Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News passes along word of a few more of the players who participated in the Timberwolvesveteran mini-camp on the weekend, tweeting that that Hollis Thompson, Dorell Wright, and Jordan McRae took part, among others.
  • Veteran guard Rodney Stuckey is participating in a free agent mini-camp with the Trail Blazers, a league source tells Michael Scotto of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Pistons Hosting Free-Agent Mini-Camp

While most NBA teams are spending their time hosting pre-draft workouts for draft-eligible prospects, the Pistons are concentrating their energy on the free agent market already, holding a free-agent minicamp today for multiple NBA hopefuls and a few former NBA players.

Bereft of a first round selection in the 2018 NBA Draft as a result of the club’s mid-season trade for Blake Griffin, the Pistons are surely hoping to get a jump start on the competition for the services of some lesser known free agents this summer.

Keith Langlois of Pistons.com provides a look at the minicamp roster, with the most well-known name having to be former No. 2 overall pick, Derrick Williams, who holds career averages of 8.9 PPG and 4.0 RPG in 428 career contests.

Other invitees with NBA experience include Williams’ former teammate with the Cavs during the 2016/17 season, Jordan McRae, as well as five-year veteran John Jenkins, the No. 40 overall selection in the 2016 NBA Draft – Diamond Stone, and a 10-day contract recipient from this past season – Marcus Thornton.

Jordan McRae To Play In Spain

12:05pm: McRae will earn more than $700K on his new deal with Baskonia, according to Pick (Twitter link).

11:49am: Former Cavaliers guard Jordan McRae will play in Spain in 2017/18, according to international basketball journalist David Pick, who reports (via Twitter) that McRae has signed with Baskonia.

McRae, 26, spent most of the 2016/17 season in Cleveland after joining the Cavaliers down the stretch in 2015/16. In 37 games last season, the 6’6″ guard averaged 4.4 PPG and 1.1 RPG with a shooting line of .387/.353/.794. The club waived McRae shortly after the All-Star break in order to create room on the roster to sign Andrew Bogut, whose time in Cleveland was short-lived.

McRae is the second NBA free agent landed by Baskonia this offseason, as the team also signed point guard Marcelo Huertas. McRae and Huertas will help fill the backcourt void created when Shane Larkin departed to sign with the Celtics — Larkin was one of the Euroleague’s top point guards last season, and was Baskonia’s leading scorer in both Euroleague and Spanish League play.

According to Pick, McRae turned down offers from Israeli team Maccabi Tel Aviv before reaching an agreement with Baskonia. Maccabi continues to scour the NBA free agent market for backcourt help, having reportedly extended an offer to veteran guard Norris Cole, as we detailed earlier today.

International Notes: Lessort, McRae, Garino, Cook

One of the Sixers‘ second-round picks in 2017, French forward Mathias Lessort, has bought himself out of his deal with Bamberg and is negotiating with Red Star Belgrade, tweets international basketball reporter David Pick. Lessort is expected to play at least one more season – and perhaps more – overseas before heading to Philadelphia.

Here are a few more international items of interest:

  • As we noted earlier today, Spanish team Baskonia was pursuing C.J. Wilcox before he agreed to a two-way contract with Portland. According to Chema de Lucas of Gigantes.com (Twitter link; translation via Sportando), Baskonia is also eyeing Jordan McRae, who played 37 games last season for the Cavaliers.
  • Recently waived by the Magic, Argentinian swingman Patricio Garino is drawing interest from Italian team Pallacanestro Reggiana, per Emiliano Carchia of Sportando, who passes along a report out of Italy.
  • Former NBA shooting guard Daequan Cook, who appeared in 328 games for the Heat, Thunder, Bulls, and Rockets, has a new deal with Ironi Nes Ziona in Israel, the team has confirmed (via Twitter). The 30-year-old has spent the last several years overseas, having last played in the NBA during the 2012/13 season.
  • All-EuroLeague guard Brad Wanamaker is nearing an agreement with Turkish club Fenerbahce, according to team president Aziz Yildirim, who says his club will land Wanamaker if the former Pitt standout doesn’t sign an NBA deal. Sportando has the details.