Josh Okogie

Timberwolves Exercise Josh Okogie’s 2020/21 Option

The Timberwolves have officially picked up their 2020/21 rookie scale team option on Josh Okogie, tweets Darren Wolfson of SKOR North. Although Minnesota waited until deadline day to officially make the move, there was never a doubt that the club would exercise the third-year option, worth $2,651,040.

Okogoie, 21, emerged as a reliable rotation player for the Timberwolves in his rookie season after being selected 20th overall in the 2018 draft. While he struggled with his shot (.386 FG%, .279 3PT%), the former Georgia Tech standout provided strong perimeter defense and flashed some offensive potential.

With Okogie now locked up through at least 2020/21, the next decision the Wolves face will be whether to pick up his $4,087,904 fourth-year option for 2021/22. That decision will be due one year from today.

NBA teams have until the end of the day to exercise their rookie scale options for the ’20/21 season, and only a handful of them are still outstanding. We’re tracking all those decisions right here.

Northwest Notes: Porter, Okogie, Green, Thunder

In a piece chronicling the first NBA game for Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., Nick Kosmider of The Athletic explains how Porter’s debut ended up being a long time coming after the 21-year-old had to rehab through two back surgeries and miss his entire first season as a professional.

In the team hotel the night before Porter’s debut, Tim Connelly, Denver’s president of basketball operations, encouraged Porter to let each frame of his debut experience sink in, notwithstanding the fact that it was just a preseason game.

“I told him, ‘You should really pat yourself on the back,'” Connelly said. “It’s not easy to do what he’s done. He’s been a guy that, forever, the assumption was that he was going to play in the NBA because he was so talented, but the road has been a little more convoluted and challenging, so I said, ‘Appreciate the moment. You’re officially in the NBA. It wasn’t how you thought it would be three or four years ago, but it’s still special.'”

Teammate Jarred Vanderbilt, who is close with Porter and helped him throughout the rehab process and beforehand, had some good advice for his friend.

“I know how tough it was for him to sit out, like it was for me, but he sat out the whole year,” Vanderbilt said. “It was a lot tougher for him, so it’s just great to see him playing again. I told him, ‘Don’t put any pressure on yourself. Just be happy to be out there.’ That’s how I was. I was just happy to be out there. I know how it feels to be not able to play. To come back and feel all antsy like you have to make the right play and everything, I felt like I was doing that and thinking too much, so I just told him to let the game come. Everything will fall into place.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves guard Josh Okogie, who is entering his second season in the NBA, was able to improve his game this summer by playing in the FIBA World Cup as a member of Team Nigeria, writes Chris Hine of the Star Tribune. Specifically, Okogie believes he has gotten better mentally. “My experience was great playing overseas. One reason being, it forced me to think the game.”
  • As Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune notes, we may see some new tricks from Jazz newcomer, veteran forward Jeff Green, as his ever-expanding skill set could prove crucial for the team this coming season.
  • The Thunder rolled out a starting lineup that included Chris PaulShai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dennis Schroder in their latest preseason game, perhaps signaling the team’s plan to use multiple point guard rotations throughout this season. Tim MacMahon of ESPN has the story.

World Cup Updates: Lithuania, Joseph, Nigeria, France

The Lithuanian national team has announced its roster for the 2019 World Cup, according to Donatas Urbonas, who tweets that the 12-man squad will include Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas and Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis in the frontcourt. Former Knicks forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas is also on the roster.

Lithuania is viewed as a contender to make a deep run in this year’s tournament, but it won’t have an easy path to even make it out of the first round. The Lithuanian national team is part of a group that also includes Australia, Canada, and Senegal — only two of those clubs will advance to the round of 16.

Here’s more on the 2019 World Cup, which will tip off in just four days in China:

Timberwolves Waive James Nunnally

In the latest move in a busy day for the Timberwolves, the club is waiving guard James Nunnally, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The transaction will happen in advance of Nunnally’s contract guarantee deadline this week.

After playing in Europe for the past two seasons, Nunnally signed with the Timberwolves during free agency, as Minnesota was looking to add players that could space the floor and provide solid defense. However, Nunnally was not a regular part of the rotation and rarely saw the court during his time with the Wolves.

The 28-year-old wing only played 64 minutes this season, averaging 2.1 points per game while knocking down 38.5 percent of his 3-pointers. The emergence of Josh Okogie and the additions of Robert Covington and Dario Saric pushed Nunnally further out of the rotation.

If Nunnally doesn’t catch on with another NBA team right away, a return to the EuroLeague is a viable possibility, given his past success overseas.

Northwest Notes: Westbrook, Bird, Okogie, Reed

Thunder star Russell Westbrook is nearing his return after missing the team’s first week of action, targeting Sunday’s home game against the Kings, according to ESPN’s Royce Young.

The team currently lists him as out for the game, but cautioned that his status is always subject to change. Should Westbrook miss the game against Sacramento, it’s possible that he makes his return on Thursday against the Celtics.

“A lot of it is him and the medical staff talking to each other and him giving feedback,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “In my conversations with him, it’s always how he’s feeling the next day. And I think for him, he needs to be right because you don’t want to have something lingering. And he knows his body better than anybody else.”

Westbrook underwent a preemptive arthroscopy surgery on his right knee last month, the fifth knee operation of his 10-year NBA career. He held per-game averages of 25.4 points, 10.1 rebounds and 10.3 assists last season, and has played in at least 80 games throughout the past three seasons.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • WNBA star Sue Bird is meeting with the Nuggets executive staff this week, which could turn into a job with the team, Chris Dempsey of Nuggets.com reports (Twitter link). Bird is still an active WNBA player, meaning she cannot work full-time with the organization.
  • Timberwolves rookie Josh Okogie played a solid role in the team’s game against Dallas on Saturday, filling in for Jimmy Butler at small forward and showing flashes of potential on both ends of the floor. “I knew where to pick my spots and what my role is when I’m on the court with them,” Okogie said, as relayed by Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I came in the game ready to make an impact. I knew I just had to come to the game, rebound, do the dirty stuff, let the others shine.”
  • The Salt Lake City Stars drafted former NBA center Willie Reed with the No. 1 pick in this year’s G League draft, banking on his experience and close ties to the organization, as written by Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News. The Stars are the G League affiliate of the Jazz, a team that features the likes of Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors and Ekpe Udoh at center.

And-Ones: Bennett, D. Johnson, G. Davis, Montreal

Former first overall pick Anthony Bennett appears set to continue his comeback attempt in the G League. According to Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link), Bennett has signed an NBAGL contract for the coming season.

Bennett, who was drafted first overall by the Cavaliers in 2013, appeared in 35 G League games last season for the Northern Arizona Suns and Maine Red Claws, averaging 14.3 PPG and 6.7 RPG in 26.9 minutes per contest. As Johnson notes, the Red Claws still hold his G League rights, so they’ll have the option of bringing him back if they want to.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • A pair of former NBA big men are leaving their international teams, per Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Carchia reports that Dakari Johnson is parting ways with Chinese team Qingdao, while Glen Davis is no longer playing for Croatian club KK Zadar (Twitter link).
  • In advance of the Raptors‘ preseason game in Montreal, a group of Quebec business people announced that they’ve begun the process of convincing the NBA that the city is a viable location for expansion or relocation, reports Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun (Twitter links). The group believes the league will expand eventually, and would like to at least be considered as a “Plan B,” according to Wolstat, who says the plan would be to have the team play at Montreal’s Bell Centre (Twitter links).
  • Veteran NBA agent Calvin Andrews, who represents players like Aaron Gordon (Magic) and Josh Okogie (Timberwolves) has left BDA Sports to form his own agency called Serving Athletes with Integrity, tweets Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal.
  • The NBA will play additional preseason games overseas next year, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com, who tweets that the league is adding trips to Japan and Dubai/India to its preseason schedule.

Timberwolves Sign First-Round Pick Josh Okogie

The Timberwolves have signed first-round pick Josh Okogie, the team’s public relations department tweets.

Okogie, who was selected with the No. 20 overall pick, will receive approximately $2.16MM in the first year of his rookie contract. Okogie, a 6’4” shooting guard, departed Georgia Tech after his sophomore year, in which he averaged 18.2 PPG and 6.3 RPG. He turns 20 in September.

He’ll compete for minutes behind starter Jimmy Butler.

Western Notes: Mavericks, Pelicans, Wolves, Okobo

After trading for Luka Doncic, the Mavericks plan to address their need at center through free agency, tweets ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “July 1 is right around the corner, bro,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’ll address it. There will be options.” 

Chief among those options is expected to be DeMarcus Cousins of the Pelicans, who is still recovering from a torn Achilles he suffered in January. The Mavericks could also make a play for the RocketsClint Capela, who will be a restricted free agent, or the ClippersDeAndre Jordan if he decides to opt out of his current deal. Another possibility is Dwight Howard, who is expected to reach a buyout agreement with the Nets once a trade from the Hornets is complete. Dallas has expressed interest in Howard before, and he is likely to be more affordable than ever.

There’s more tonight from the Western Conference:

  • The Pelicans might be worth watching in the pursuit of Howard, according to Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Like the Mavericks, they have tried to acquire him before and he could be a low-cost replacement if they can’t re-sign Cousins.
  • The Timberwolves continue to pursue draft-night deals, but first-round pick Josh Okogie isn’t likely to be included, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • French point guard Elie Okobo, taken by the Suns with the first pick in the second round, is expected to come to the NBA next season, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7.
  • The Mavericks, Nuggets and Spurs were all among the winners in tonight’s draft, according to Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz of ESPN. Dallas was able to trade up to get Doncic, Denver saw Michael Porter Jr. fall to No. 14 and San Antonio picked up Lonnie Walker at 18. Other teams that had a good night, according to the authors, were the Pacers, Sixers and Celtics.
  • There were voices in the Lakers‘ organization that wanted to trade up to get Mitchell Robinson, according to ESPN’s Ian Begley. Robinson went 36th to the Knicks.

Celtics Notes: Smart, Okogie, No. 27 Pick

Even though Marcus Smart‘s contract is just a week and a half from expiring, he’s not obsessing about his market or the possibility of changing teams. Speaking to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald today at his Young Game Changers camp, Smart said that he expects to remain a Celtic next season, but has been preoccupied with his mother’s health issues.

“I haven’t really put too much thought into the offseason free agency thing,” Smart said. “My No. 1 focus is on my family right now. I got a lot of stuff going on with my mom. Right now she needs all the positive thinking and brain capacity that we can give her. That’s what my mental focus is right now. So I really haven’t even given a thought about free agency. It’s the last of my concerns right now. There’s more important things than basketball.”

A Tuesday report suggested that the Mavericks could be a team that makes a run at Smart, a Texas native. However, despite his mother’s situation, moving closer to home won’t necessarily be a priority for Smart this summer, as Bulpett relays.

“No, that doesn’t weigh in,” Smart said. “Wherever I go, if that’s here (Boston) or wherever that’s at, my mom’s going to be ecstatic. She’s going to support me, although being away from her is hard. But she understands.”

Here’s more on the C’s:

  • Georgia Tech’s Josh Okogie worked out for the Celtics today and is generating a lot of interest from teams in the 16-28 range in tomorrow’s draft, league sources tell Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com (Twitter link).
  • Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald confirms (via Twitter) that Okogie will “be in serious play” at No. 27 for the Celtics, adding that Jerome Robinson (Boston College) and Grayson Allen (Duke) fit that bill too. However, Robinson isn’t expected to be available that late, and Allen is increasingly likely to be off the board by then too, Murphy notes.
  • Icelandic big man Tryggvi Hlinason and Michigan’s Moritz Wagner are among the other prospects the Celtics have auditioned this week, tweets Murphy.
  • Earlier today, we relayed an interesting piece from Zach Lowe of ESPN.com, who took a deep dive into a potential Celtics offer for Kawhi Leonard, the team’s championship window, Jaylen Brown‘s potential, and more.

Draft Updates: Green Room, Sexton, Gilgeous-Alexander, Shamet

The names of several green room invitees for Thursday night’s draft have been leaked, relays Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Only college players will be in the room this year, as Luka Doncic is still involved with his season for Real Madrid.

The projected top picks will be well represented with Arizona’s Deandre Ayton, Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr., Texas’ Mo Bamba, Alabama’s Collin Sexton, Oklahoma’s Trae Young, Duke’s Wendell Carter Jr., Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr., Villanova’s Mikal Bridges, Kentucky’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Michigan State’s Miles Bridges all on hand.

Joining them will be Kentucky’s Kevin Knox, Texas A&M’s Robert Williams, Miami’s Lonnie Walker, Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo, Texas Tech’s Zhaire Smith, Boston College’s Jerome Robinson, Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison and UCLA’s Aaron Holiday.

There’s more pre-draft news to pass along:

  • Sexton doesn’t have any more workouts on his schedule after completing today’s session with the Magic, tweets Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Sexton has been limiting his workouts to teams in his projected range, as the only others were for the Cavaliers (No. 8 pick), Knicks (No. 9) and Hornets (No. 11).
  • Gilgeous-Alexander is a rare mid-level prospect who hasn’t conducted a single publicized workout, notes Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype. Although a team or two may have brought him in for a secret session, there are also organizations that tried to work him out but were denied. Kalbrosky speculates Gilgeous-Alexander’s representatives may be trying to steer him to a large-market team like the Clippers, who hold the 12th and 13th picks.
  • The Sixers will work out Wichita State’s Landry Shamet on Tuesday, Kalbroksy tweets, adding that Philadelphia may consider him at No. 26.
  • The Suns held a workout today with Texas Tech’s Smith as the biggest name in the group. Also participating, according to a tweet from the team, were Georgia Tech’s Josh Okogie, Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson, Wake Forest’s Bryant Crawford, Oregon State’s Drew Eubanks and Bosnia’s Markus Loncar. This is the Suns’ final scheduled session before the draft, tweets Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic.