Justise Winslow

Western Notes: Wade, Jazz, Kings, Winslow, Suns, Thunder

Dwyane Wade‘s son Zaire Wade is signing an NBA G League contract and is expected to land with the Salt Lake City Stars, Utah’s NBAGL affiliate, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Dwyane is, of course, a part-owner of the Jazz.

The Jazz could secure Zaire’s G League rights for Salt Lake City by signing him to an Exhibit 10 contract and making him an affiliate player. But if the team doesn’t go that route and the younger Wade signs a general G League contract, the Stars would likely select him in the NBAGL draft on October 23.

Here’s more from around the West:

  • John Hollinger of The Athletic liked the Kings‘ offseason on the whole, but questioned the team’s decision to trade Delon Wright for Tristan Thompson, then sign Alex Len and retain Damian Jones. All three big men figure to be backups, with Richaun Holmes starting at the five.
  • Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue, who said on Monday that he has been impressed by Justise Winslow‘s passing ability, confirmed that he views the former lottery pick as an option at point guard, per Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. “I know he played a little point guard in Miami and with our point guard situation, with Jason (Preston) going down, he’ll be playing a little backup point,” Lue said. “He been playing the four, he’s been playing the five. … so we just gotta keep learning the plays, different positions and I think he’s gonna be really good for us.”
  • While it may be a matter of semantics, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link) stresses that extension discussions between the Suns and Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges are ongoing, not stalled. In other words, one or both of Ayton and Bridges could still end up signing a new contract before the October 18 deadline, even if no agreement is imminent yet.
  • The Thunder continue to experiment with different lineups, according to Nick Gallo of OKCThunder.com, who notes that the team used 35 different five-man units in its first two preseason games. “With the lineups, the way that we try to look at it is that every player has their own individual style of play, and the lineups are just a merging of those things,” head coach Mark Daigneault said.

Clippers Notes: Ibaka, Boston, Winslow, Outlook

Clippers center Serge Ibaka, who is coming off back surgery, was cleared for contact on Monday, head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters, including Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register.

“He’s doing good,” Lue said. “We’re gonna ease him in as slow as possible and make sure he’s healthy and that’s a good sign for us. Hopefully, he’s able to get back on track (get on the floor) and take some contact.”

Ibaka was the Clippers’ starting center when he was healthy last season, but with his exact timeline for a return still unclear, Ivica Zubac figures to handle that role for the foreseeable future.

Here’s more on the Clippers:

  • Rookie shooting guard Brandon Boston Jr., the 51st overall pick in the 2021 draft, may not have a regular rotation role during the regular season, but he was part of L.A.’s starting lineup during his preseason debut on Monday. As Swanson writes, Boston was “super excited” about the opportunity. “It’s actually crazy, I’m not going to lie,” Boston said after the game. “There are only 450 of us that are here, so just making the best of it while I’m here. Doing the right thing, doing the little things I need to do and just attacking it every day.”
  • As long as Justise Winslow can stay healthy, the Clippers envision using him in a variety roles, ranging from a backup point guard to a small-ball center, writes Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times. “He showed us a lot in this last week and a half, two weeks,” Lue said, noting that he has been impressed by Winslow’s defensive versatility and his ability to start the fast break off a rebound.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic isn’t particularly bullish on the Clippers’ outlook this season, forecasting a 38-44 record for the team, good for 10th in the West. Hollinger’s projection for the Clippers is based on an assumption that Kawhi Leonard won’t play at all this season, and he acknowledges that the club’s ceiling will be considerably higher if Leonard is able to return in the spring.

Clippers Notes: Bledsoe, Winslow, Vaccinations, Drame

Eric Bledsoe hasn’t played for the Clippers since 2013, but the team is optimistic that the point guard will fit right back into Los Angeles’ rotation in 2021/22, writes Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. Head coach Tyronn Lue said on Tuesday that he expects Bledsoe to be part of L.A.’s starting lineup alongside Paul George, Marcus Morris, Reggie Jackson, and Ivica Zubac.

The last time Bledsoe was a Clipper, he was an up-and-comer who was stuck behind Chris Paul on the depth chart and was trying to prove he earned more playing time. He’ll have a larger role this time around, but the 11-year veteran told reporters he’s prepared to do whatever the club asks of him.

“I’m coming in as a veteran player now in a different role … just help the team out the best way I can,” Bledsoe said. “Whether guarding the best player one night, spot up next night, get downhill, whatever the case is, cheering my teammates on. So whatever the case may be, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Both Lue and Jackson spoke this week about how they envision the Clippers benefiting from Bledsoe’s ability to put pressure on the defense and attack the paint.

“He’s gonna be a big boost for us,” Lue said. “I think he’ll be able to push that pace and push that tempo, and get guys easy shots. That’s what we have to do in transition.”

Here’s more on the Clippers:

  • Bobby Marks of ESPN provides a minor update on Bledsoe’s contract, tweeting that the veteran guard and the Clippers agreed to push back his salary guarantee date for 2022/23. Bledsoe currently has a partial guarantee of $3.9MM on his $19.4MM salary for next season — his salary will now become fully guaranteed four days after the July moratorium instead of on June 30, creating some additional offseason flexibility for the franchise.
  • Health issues have limited Justise Winslow to just 37 total games over the last two seasons, but the new Clippers forward said on Tuesday that he has felt fully healthy for the last two or three months, tweets Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Winslow added that he wouldn’t wish his hip injury on anyone.
  • Lue said on Wednesday that all the players on the Clippers’ roster are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (video link via Greif).
  • The Clippers are mourning the death of Assane Drame, who joined the team in 2019 as a video intern and had since become a video assistant in the team’s digital content group. Drame died in a car accident on Monday night after working hours earlier at the team’s Media Day, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. We at Hoops Rumors send our condolences to Drame’s family and friends.

Contract Details: Clippers, THT, Ball, Nwaba, Bembry, Raptors

After reporting over the weekend that the Clippers used about $3.9MM of their taxpayer mid-level exception to sign Justise Winslow, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Instagram video) confirmed today that the team used the leftover portion of that MLE to sign second-round picks Jason Preston and Brandon Boston Jr. to three-year deals, with Preston getting a little more than the rookie minimum.

Keith Smith of Spotrac shares those salary figures down to the dollar, tweeting that Winslow’s first-year salary is $3,902,439 while Preston’s is $1,062,303. Combined with Boston’s rookie minimum of $925,258, those three salaries add up to exactly $5.89MM, the amount of the taxpayer mid-level exception.

Here are a few more details on new contracts from around the NBA:

  • While Talen Horton-Tucker‘s three-year deal with the Lakers was initially said to be worth $32MM, the year-by-year breakdown provided by Smith works out to a total of $30.78MM (Twitter link).
  • Lonzo Ball‘s four-year deal with the Bulls also came in slightly lower than expected, according to Smith, who says it has a base value of $80MM, with $1MM in annual unlikely incentives (Twitter link).
  • David Nwaba‘s three-year, $15MM contract with the Rockets has two fully guaranteed seasons followed by a third-year team option, according to Marks (Instagram video).
  • DeAndre’ Bembry‘s minimum-salary deal with the Nets has a partial guarantee of $750K for now, tweets Smith. That number will increase to $1.25MM on December 15 before becoming fully guaranteed in January.
  • Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter links) shares some Raptors contract details, reporting that Gary Trent Jr.‘s deal has a base value of $51.84MM, with $250K in annual unlikely incentives. Murphy adds that Ishmail Wainright got a $250K guarantee in 2021/22 – plus a $125K guarantee in ’22/23 – on his minimum-salary contract, while Yuta Watanabe‘s minimum-salary deal is now partially guaranteed for $375K. Watanabe would get his full guarantee if he makes the regular season roster.

Clippers Sign Brandon Boston Jr. To Multiyear Deal

AUGUST 9: Boston’s deal is now official, according to an announcement from the Clippers.

AUGUST 8: The Clippers are signing rookie wing Brandon Boston Jr. to a multiyear deal, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that Boston will get two guaranteed years with a third-year team option.

In his single college season at Kentucky, Boston averaged 11.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 1.6 APG on .355/.300/.785 shooting in 25 games (30.4 MPG) for the Wildcats. The 19-year-old is considered a raw prospect who is still adding bulk to his slender frame.

The Grizzlies technically selected Boston with the No. 51 pick on draft night, but by that point the selection had already been part of two trades agreed to before or during the draft. It was sent to the Pelicans as part of a bigger deal earlier in the week and then flipped to the Clippers for cash on draft night.

The Clippers’ willingness to buy their way back into the draft in order to nab Boston – and their willingness to give him two guaranteed years – signals how highly they regard him. According to Keith Smith of Spotrac (via Twitter), Boston’s $2.5MM in guaranteed money will be the most ever for a player drafted in the 50s who wasn’t stashed overseas before coming to the NBA.

Los Angeles will use a portion of its $5.9MM taxpayer mid-level exception to complete the signing. ESPN’s Bobby Marks reported on Instagram on Sunday that Justise Winslow got about $3.9MM of that exception, which leaves more than enough wiggle room to accommodate Boston’s first-year salary.

Clippers Sign Justise Winslow To Two-Year Deal

AUGUST 8: The Clippers have officially signed Winslow, the team announced today in a press release.

AUGUST 6: The Clippers are in agreement with free agent forward Justise Winslow on a two-year deal, his agents Austin Brown and Erika Ruiz tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

The Clippers are using the taxpayer mid-level exception to sign Winslow, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times tweets. According to Greif, there are no options on the deal’s second season.

Winslow became an unrestricted free agent at the beginning of the month when Memphis declined a $13MM option on his contract.

Winslow’s career has been sidetracked by hip and back injuries but, if healthy, he could jump into the Clippers’ rotation. He appeared in just 11 games with Miami during the 2019/20 season. He was traded to the Grizzlies in February 2020 but didn’t make his team debut until late February this year.

Winslow had trouble scraping off the rust, averaging 6.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG and 1.9 APG in 19.5 MPG while shooting 35.1% from the field in 26 games.

In his last full season, Winslow averaged 12.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 4.3 APG in 2018/19 while being used at times as a point forward. Winslow, 25, provides a boost at the wing spot, which is much needed since Kawhi Leonard is expected to miss most of next season after undergoing knee surgery.

Grizzlies Decline Justise Winslow’s Team Option

The Grizzlies have declined the $13MM team option in Justise Winslow‘s contract for next season, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (Twitter link).

This move was expected from Memphis, since the team needed to remove Winslow’s salary from its books to create space for Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams. The Grizzlies are reportedly set to acquire the duo in a trade with the Pelicans, sending back center Jonas Valanciunas in return.

The 25-year-old Winslow has missed several games due to injuries over the past two seasons, appearing in just 37 total contests as a result. He spent the first five seasons of his career in Miami before being traded to Memphis in February of 2020.

In the 26 games he did play during the 2020/21 season, Winslow averaged 6.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in 19.5 minutes per contest. Memphis had to make a decision on his option by 5:00pm ET on Sunday.

Grizzlies, Pelicans Finalizing Deal To Swap Valanciunas, Adams, Bledsoe, Picks

The Grizzlies and Pelicans are finalizing a trade that will involve several players and draft picks, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

As Wojnarowski reports, the deal will send Jonas Valanciunas and the Nos. 17 and 51 picks to New Orleans in exchange for Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, the Nos. 10 and 40 picks, and the Lakers’ 2022 first-round pick. The Pelicans will add top-10 protection to that ’22 first-rounder, per Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report (Twitter link).

The trade, our second of the offseason and the first of draft week, is a fascinating move for two Southwest teams looking to make the playoffs in 2022.

The Pelicans had been considered highly likely to trade at least one of Adams or Bledsoe, both of whom are on pricey contracts and weren’t viewed as part of the team’s long-term future. Rather than just moving one of the two, they’ll send both to Memphis, creating significant cap flexibility for this year’s free agent period.

Bledsoe ($18.13MM) and Adams ($17.07MM) will earn a combined $35MM+ in 2021/22, while Valanciunas is on the books for just $14MM. Valanciunas is also entering a contract year, whereas Adams has one more guaranteed season left in ’22/23 and Bledsoe has a partial guarantee, so the Pelicans won’t just be opening up cap room this summer — they’ll create future flexibility as well.

Swapping out Adams for Valanciunas should allow the Pelicans to improve their frontcourt spacing. Valanciunas isn’t exactly a long-distance marksman, but has a solid mid-range game and will shoot the occasional three-pointer, which should create more room for Zion Williamson to operate. The former No. 5 overall pick averaged an impressive 17.1 PPG and 12.5 RPG with a .592/.368/.773 shooting line in 62 games (28.3 MPG) this past season.

Moving Bledsoe’s contract also puts the Pelicans in position to either bring back restricted free agent Lonzo Ball or pursue another point guard in free agency. As Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets, New Orleans could create up to about $36MM in cap space by letting Ball and Josh Hart walk, or approximately $25MM in space by retaining Hart’s cap hold and letting go of Ball. Kyle Lowry is rumored to be among the Pelicans’ potential free agent targets.

As for the Grizzlies, they’ll presumably decline Justise Winslow‘s $13MM team option in order to create the cap room necessary to take on Adams and Bledsoe once the new league year begins in August, Marks notes (via Twitter).

While Adams and Bledsoe didn’t have great seasons in New Orleans, they’ve both been productive in the past and are bounce-back candidates in Memphis if the fit is better. Adams posted 7.6 PPG and 8.9 RPG in 58 games (27.7 MPG) in 2020/21, while Bledsoe put up 12.2 PPG, 3.8 APG, and 3.4 RPG on .421/.341/.687 shooting in 71 games (29.7 MPG).

The Grizzlies also significantly improve their draft assets in the swap, moving up seven spots in the first round and 11 spots in the second while also adding an extra first-round pick for next year. They’re now in position to have three first-rounders in next year’s draft, since they also hold Utah’s top-six protected first-rounder.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN and Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report (Twitter links) have both heard that Australian guard Josh Giddey is the player the Grizzlies are targeting with the No. 10 pick.

Southeast Notes: LiAngelo Ball, Robinson, Heat, Unseld

LiAngelo Ball is signing a deal to play for the Hornets’ Summer League team, reports Rod Boone of Sports Illustrated. The move will reunite LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball for the first time since they played in Lithuania together during the 2018/2019 season.

The middle Ball brother has been working out with members of the Hornets, notably RFA-to-be Devonte’ Graham. He had joined the Thunder’s G League team in 2020 just days before the league was shut down due to COVID-19, and signed an Exhibit 10 deal with the Pistons in December, but failed to play due to an ankle injury and was subsequently waived.

The Summer League opportunity could be a chance for the third Ball brother to get a foothold in the NBA, writes Boone.

We have more news from around the Southeast Division:

  • Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson, entering his first free agency as a coveted player, isn’t sure what’s going to happen, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I’d love to try to make something work with Miami,” Robinson said. “The reality is, like, I tell this to my family, I don’t know how the next 10-plus days, two weeks, how it’s going to play out. At this point, and I’ve said this already on this podcast, but I think the biggest challenge has been detaching myself from a particular outcome.”
  • Winderman also answered a mailbag question about whether the Heat could bring back former players Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow this summer. Winderman believed that there could be more desire with the team to bring back Richardson than Winslow, but if Richardson declines his $11.6MM player option with the Mavericks, it’s unlikely that the Heat could afford him.
  • Wes Unseld Jr. discussed his on-court plans for the Wizards this week, as Fred Katz of The Athletic writes. Unseld talked about trying to limit early shot-clock opportunities, his philosophy on the intersection between creating a sound defensive scheme and tailoring it to individual personnel’s strengths and preferences, and how he wants to make Bradley Beal even more effective. “A lot of times, he’s gonna see two, sometimes three bodies,” Unseld said. “So, getting him off the ball to get it back, putting him in multiple actions to kinda loosen up defenders I think is gonna be helpful for him.”

Southwest Notes: Rockets, Spurs, Grizzlies, Winslow

Multiple reports and the majority of expert mock drafts have pointed to the Rockets leaning toward G League Ignite wing Jalen Green as their choice with the No. 2 pick in the draft. However, speaking about the draft on Wednesday, general manager Rafael Stone was unwilling to drop any hints about whether that speculation is accurate.

According to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle, Stone didn’t even want to commit to the Rockets keeping their current picks (including the 23rd and 24th overall selections) and said he’d rather not make up his mind yet about which player he wants to draft at any of those spots, including No. 2.

“I actually do believe that’s the wrong approach,” the Rockets’ GM said. “I think the right approach is to do the work, work as hard as you can, use every minute, and keep every option open. It’s still not guaranteed that we’re picking (at all) or that we’re picking in that spot. It’s more likely than not. It always is. It’s our job to figure out what possibilities exist.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Kelly Iko and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic discuss what the Rockets will do with their three first-round picks, exploring what sort of trade scenarios might be realistic.
  • In a separate story, Iko reports that the Rockets are expected to continue talking to the Pistons about the No. 1 pick and have received some interest in teams looking to move up to No. 2, but the most likely scenario is that Houston stays put. The club has also fielded “dozens” of calls about the Nos. 23 and 24 picks, Iko adds.
  • Texas big man Kai Jones visited the Spurs earlier this week, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter link). Jones could be an option for San Antonio at No. 12 in next Thursday’s draft.
  • As the Grizzlies weigh their options in free agency and on the trade market, their decision tree will start with Justise Winslow‘s team option, writes Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian. The club’s decision on that $13MM option will be a major factor in dictating how much cap flexibility Memphis has this offseason. For his part, Herrington would pass on that option.
  • This offseason will be a revealing one for Zach Kleiman and the Grizzlies‘ other top decision-makers, according to Mark Giannotto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal, who suggests that decisions on Winslow’s option and a possible rookie scale extension for Jaren Jackson will provide major hints about the team’s direction.