Keifer Sykes

Central Notes: LaVine, DeRozan, Holiday, Hill, Bucks, Pacers

Should the Bulls be worried about Zach LaVine going to another team as an unrestricted free agent this summer? Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic explores that topic, noting that while Chicago can offer LaVine more years and money (five years, $212MM) than other teams (four years, $157MM), the two-time All-Star was noncommittal at his end-of-season media session.

I’ve been here for the last five years, and I’ve really enjoyed my time,” LaVine said. “I think the city – and I hope everybody – understands how much I care about the Bulls and what I’ve done for the city and things like that.

Obviously, you guys have been a really soft spot in my heart, and I have to do this as a business decision as a man, not to just be viewed one way, and be, like, ‘I’m automatically coming back’ or ‘I’m automatically leaving.’ It’s unrestricted free agency. For my family and me, I have to go into this like it’s a decision where I have to be open-eyed.”

Here’s more from the Central:

  • In a question and answer session with Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, Bulls star DeMar DeRozan said he thinks Bucks guard Jrue Holiday is the most underrated player in the NBA at the moment. “Wow, that’s a great one … most underrated … most underrated from my opinion and one of my favorite players to watch I would say is Jrue Holiday, yeah, Jrue Holiday,” DeRozan said.
  • Bucks veteran guard George Hill is listed as probable for Saturday’s Game 3 against the Celtics, tweets Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Hill has been dealing with an abdominal strain and has yet to play this postseason, but he was able to practice on Thursday and could see some action today.
  • Jamal Collier of ESPN lists four keys to the Bucks repeating as NBA champions this season. One key is making up for the production of injured star Khris Middleton, who’s sidelined with a sprained MCL. “Khris clearly is a huge part of what we do, but we have a lot of talented guys on our team,” Brook Lopez said. “We’re going to see a lot of different guys, I think, stepping up on different nights.”
  • Keifer Sykes recently spoke to James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star about his rookie season with the Pacers. Sykes was waived by the team just before the season ended. “I did everything that I could do,” Sykes said. “Even when I look up and think about the day I got cut, the night before, after that (last home) game, I was in the gym until like 12 or 1 a.m., so I squeezed everything I got out of the Pacers thing. That’s not gonna stop me from having camps back home and finishing it with this one. I’m very much at peace with the situation. … A lot of players don’t have peace in free agency.”
  • Sykes was waived to accommodate standard deals for undrafted Pacers rookies Terry Taylor and Duane Washington, who were both promoted from two-way contracts. Taylor said it was a dream come true, as Boyd relays in another story. “My agent called me and was like, ‘Yo, we’re gonna get this done Thursday (April 7),’ so he was telling me congrats,” Taylor said. “After we hung up the phone, I just prayed because it finally happened. My dream came true.”

Gabe York, Nate Hinton Sign Two-Way Deals With Pacers

The Pacers have signed G League guards Gabe York and Nate Hinton to two-way contracts, the team announced in a press release.

Indiana also confirmed that Duane Washington and Terry Taylor, who had both been on two-way deals, have received standard contracts that will cover multiple years. The team officially waived Keifer Sykes to make room on the 15-man roster for both players.

York averaged 21.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 34 games with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. The 28-year-old played three seasons in the G League and spent time overseas as well after going undrafted out of Arizona in 2016. His only previous NBA experience came in attending training camp with the Magic in 2018 on an Exhibit 10 contract.

Hinton, 22, averaged 18.1 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists for Fort Wayne in his second G League season. He signed a 10-day contract with the Pacers on December 30 and played two total minutes in two games. Undrafted out of Houston in 2020, he appeared in 21 games with the Mavericks last season.

Pacers To Sign Duane Washington, Terry Taylor To Multiyear Contracts

The Pacers will promote both of their two-way players, Duane Washington and Terry Taylor, to the standard 15-man roster and sign them to new multiyear contracts, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Indiana has a full 15-man roster and will need to make room for Washington and Terry. Justin Anderson‘s 10-day deal expires tonight, so he’ll likely be one casualty of the roster crunch. The other will be guard Keifer Sykes, who is being waived, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Washington, 22, signed a two-way contract with the Pacers last August after going undrafted out of Ohio State. He has averaged 9.6 PPG, 1.8 RPG, and 1.8 APG in 46 NBA appearances (20.1 MPG), with a shooting line of .394/.366/.763.

Taylor initially signed an Exhibit 10 deal to join Indiana for training camp, then was waived in October before rejoining the team in December on a two-way contract. He has since made a strong impression on the franchise by putting up 9.6 PPG and 5.2 RPG with a .629 FG% in 31 games (21.3 MPG).

Obviously, the lottery-bound Pacers don’t need to worry about either Washington or Taylor being playoff-eligible, so their promotions are more about locking them up to team-friendly contracts rather than having them become free agents this offseason. The terms of the new deals are unclear, but they’re unlikely to be fully guaranteed or worth more than the minimum beyond this season.

Sykes, also a first-year player, was another Pacers camp invitee who was released in October before rejoining the team in December. The 28-year-old averaged 5.6 PPG and 1.9 APG on .363/.300/.882 shooting in 32 games (17.7 MPG). Sykes had been on a two-year contract, but his salary for 2022/23 wasn’t guaranteed, so Indiana won’t be on the hook for any money beyond this season.

After officially promoting Washington and Taylor, the Pacers will have a pair of open two-way slots that they could fill before the regular season ends on Sunday if they so choose.

Pacers Notes: Sykes, Brogdon, Stephenson, Turner, McConnell, Warren

Pacers guard Keifer Sykes, a rookie at age 28, has taken a remarkable path to the NBA, according to James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. It’s an in-depth look at Sykes’ journey — from the harrowing gun violence of his youth in Chicago’s South Side, to starring for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, several stops overseas and much, much more.

Sykes’ mother, Lisa, was thrilled when she learned that his contract had been guaranteed for the remainder of the season.

My heart was just filled with so much joy when he got what he wanted, and that’s to play in the NBA for his dream,” Lisa Sykes said. “When I see him play against his favorite people, seeing him playing against Chris Paul and he went to Chris Paul’s camp, it’s like it’s (full) circle.”

It’s a fascinating story and I recommend checking out the full article.

Here’s more from Indiana:

  • Head coach Rick Carlisle provided injury updates on several players Thursday, including Malcolm Brogdon, who suffered a concussion during Tuesday’s 127-124 loss to Cleveland. Brogdon was struck by an errant elbow from Evan Mobley and will be sidelined for the back-to-back road games this weekend against the Spurs and Hawks, Boyd of The Indianapolis Star tweets.
  • Lance Stephenson aggravated his left ankle sprain during Thursday’s practice and had to leave the court early, Carlisle said. He’s unsure whether Stephenson will be able to play in the upcoming games this weekend, per Boyd (Twitter link). Stephenson has missed four of the team’s last six games, including two straight.
  • Myles Turner and T.J. McConnell are making progress from their foot and wrist injuries, respectively. Carlisle said Turner was able to do 30 minutes of non-contact work during Thursday’s practice and has been gradually ramping up activity, but there’s still no timeline on his return (Twitter link via Boyd). Carlisle called McConnell week-to-week. Given Indiana’s place in the standings (22-45, fifth-worst in the NBA) and the fact that both players are under contract through at least next season, it wouldn’t be surprising if they’re held out for the remainder of the season.
  • In one of the more bizarre and unfortunate storylines of the 2021/22 season, T.J. Warren continues to be sidelined with a stress fracture in his left foot. He hasn’t played at all this season after playing just four games last season, originally suffering the injury in December of 2020. Carlisle said there was “no update on T.J Warren” when asked about his status by James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star (via Twitter). Warren will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Central Notes: Stephenson, White, Sykes, Paige

The Pacers have an open 15-man roster spot. Lance Stephenson made a strong case to fill it with his 30-point game on Wednesday, and Domantas Sabonis is hopeful that will happen, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files writes. “He’s a legend here, everybody loves him,” Sabonis said. “We knew the fans were going to go crazy when he came back. We love him, everyone else loves him here so it’s really fun to have him back.” Stephenson’s current 10-day hardship contract runs through Monday.

We have more on the Central Division:

  • There has been talk that Coby White might be traded for a power forward. However, the young Bulls guard is making a case to be part of the team’s long-term future, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. White has reached the 20-point mark three times in the last four games and has also made plays for his teammates. “I’m hoping he’s gaining some confidence in terms of his value for what he can do for our team,” coach Billy Donovan said. “It’s an important role for us.” The Bulls have already exercised their fourth-year option on White, who is extension-eligible after the season.
  • Keifer Sykes had his salary guaranteed for the remainder of the season and his coach said it was well deserved, James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star writes. “He earned it,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s earned it really starting in the summer just with his approach, his work ethic, his level of improvement, which has been gradual and consistent. And these (five games) that he’s played, he’s played tremendously.” Sykes is averaging 10.4 PPG and 3.6 APG in his first five games (26.8 MPG).
  • The Pistons terminated the 10-day contract of Jaysean Paige a couple days before it expired, Keith Smith tweets. The Pistons used the hardship exception to sign Paige but their players have returned from protocols. Early terminated 10-day deals still pay the player the full 10-day amount, as Smith notes.

Latest Salary Guarantees: D. Lee, Reed, Hartenstein, Sykes, M. Thomas

Warriors swingman Damion Lee will have the rest of his 2021/22 salary guaranteed, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). The news doesn’t come as a surprise, as Lee has been with Golden State for four seasons and has been part of the regular rotation for three of those.

Lee, who will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, will now have his $1,910,860 cap hit for ’21/22 locked in. The Warriors are also guaranteeing Gary Payton II’s rest-of-season salary, so the team won’t have create any new openings on its 15-man roster.

Here are more updates on players who are affected by today’s salary guarantee deadline:

  • The Sixers will keep Paul Reed through the deadline, guaranteeing his salary, tweets Scotto. Reed, who is earning $1,517,981 in 2021/22, also has a non-guaranteed minimum salary for next season before he becomes eligible for restricted free agency in 2023. The 6’9″ forward has averaged 2.3 PPG and 2.4 RPG in 19 games (9.4 MPG) for Philadelphia in his second NBA season.
  • Clippers center Isaiah Hartenstein will have his full-season salary guaranteed, per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). Hartenstein, earning $1,729,217, was always one of the safer bets to survive the salary guarantee deadline, since he played a key role in L.A.’s frontcourt, putting up 7.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.9 APG, and 1.3 BPG in just 16.4 MPG (29 games).
  • After recently signing a two-year contract with the Pacers, Keifer Sykes will have his rest-of-season salary guaranteed, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Sykes, who made a strong impression in the G League, is off to a strong start at the NBA level too, averaging 10.4 PPG and 3.6 APG in his first five games (26.8 MPG). Since he didn’t sign until December 27, Sykes’ prorated rookie-minimum salary is worth just $558,345.
  • The Bulls will hang onto sharpshooter Matt Thomas, guaranteeing his minimum-salary contract for 2021/22, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Thomas has only appeared in 13 games for Chicago and his three-point rate (34.6%) is well below his career rate (40.5%), but the team apparently values his ability to stretch the floor. He’ll make $1,669,178 this season before becoming eligible for restricted free agency. The Bulls will also have to make a decision today on Alfonzo McKinnie‘s non-guaranteed contract.

Central Notes: Bickerstaff, White, Bulls, Sykes

The Cavaliers awarded coach J.B. Bickerstaff with a lucrative Christmas present, extending him through the 2026/27 season. Continuity on the coaching staff will allow the team’s young core to grow, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic opines. It also ensures that the positive culture Bickerstaff has built will become a fixture.

“It’s meaningful to know that you’re with an organization and with a group of people that believe in you and believe in what we’re building and what we’re working towards,” the Cavaliers’ head coach said. “When you have that support, it just gives you more confidence to go out and do the job that you see fit.”

We have more from thee Central Division:

  • Bulls guard Coby White admits he’s having a rough season, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago writes. White missed the first 13 games this season while rehabbing a shoulder injury and spent five games in COVID-19 protocols. Now, he’s adjusting to a new off-the-ball role. “It’s been difficult. I ain’t going to lie and say it’s been easy. It hasn’t been easy,” said White, who is in the third year of his rookie deal. Chicago has already exercised its option on his contract for next season.
  • The Bulls have been very aggressive on the trade and free agent markets since last season’s trade deadline. Look for them to make something happen before this year’s Feb. 10 trade deadline, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times opines. Derrick Jones, Troy Brown and White are potential trade candidates and there will be an increasing number of teams with dim playoff hopes willing to make a move.
  • The Pacers signed Keifer Sykes to a new contract on Monday. According to HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto (Twitter link), it’s a two-year deal and the second year includes a team option.

Pacers Waive Brad Wanamaker, Sign Keifer Sykes

11:06am: The Pacers have officially signed Sykes and waived Wanamaker, according to a press release from the team.


10:51am: The Pacers intend to waive guard Brad Wanamaker and sign another guard, Keifer Sykes, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Most of the deals being completed around the NBA right now are 10-day hardship contracts, but it doesn’t appear that’ll be the case here, since the Pacers don’t have any players in the health and safety protocols and will be waiving a player from their 15-man roster in order to sign Sykes.

Wanamaker, 32, has appeared in 22 games for Indiana this season, averaging 3.5 PPG and 2.2 APG with a .361/.235/.909 shooting line in 13.3 minutes per contest. His minimum-salary contract isn’t fully guaranteed for 2021/22, so by releasing him before next month’s league-wide guarantee date, the Pacers would only have to pay him $715,538, as Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets.

An undrafted free agent out of Green Bay in 2015, Sykes has spent most of the last several years playing in international leagues. He has played for teams in Korea, Turkey, Italy, China, and Greece, and is coming off a one-year stint with the South East Melbourne Phoenix in Australia’s National Basketball League.

Sykes, who hit the game-winning three-point shot for Boeheim’s Army in this summer’s The Basketball Tournament, signed an Exhibit 10 deal with Indiana and then joined the Pacers’ G League team, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. He has averaged 16.5 PPG and 7.5 APG on .409/.351/.741 shooting in 13 G League games (34.3 MPG) this season.

It’s unclear whether or not Sykes will get a rest-of-season guarantee. If he doesn’t, the Pacers would have until January 7 to decide whether or not to lock in his full-season salary.

Pacers Sign Three Players, Waive Three

The Pacers are doing some last-minute roster shuffling ahead of the regular season deadline, announcing on Friday night that they’ve waived three players and signed three more to fill their roster spots.

According to the team’s press release, camp invitees Keifer Sykes, Terry Taylor, and Nate Hinton are out, while Justin Anderson, Bennie Boatwright, and Derek Culver are in.

It’s unlikely that any of the six players will actually make the Pacers’ 15-man regular season roster — Anderson, Boatwright, and Culver will probably be released shortly.

They are, however, all good bets to play for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Indiana’s G League team. They’re receiving Exhibit 10 deals in order to secure their G League rights and/or ensure that they’re eligible for bonuses of up to $50K if they spend at least 60 days with the Mad Ants.

Teams are only eligible to carry up to four “affiliate players” on their G League rosters, but some of the six players involved in this series of transactions will qualify as returning-rights players, rather than affiliate players. Last month, Fort Wayne acquired the G League returning rights for Anderson (from the Long Island Nets) and Boatwright (from the Memphis Hustle).

As for the Pacers’ NBA roster, it appears mostly set, with 12 players on guaranteed contracts, a pair on two-way deals, and non-guaranteed players Kelan Martin, Oshae Brissett, and Brad Wanamaker still sticking around for now. Indiana could carry all three into the regular season, or waive one and begin the season with 14 players on standard contracts.

Central Notes: Giannis, Sykes, Nance

Bucks All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has bought a stake in MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers, the Brewers announced on Friday (link via ESPN). He certainly has the means: the 6’11” reigning Finals MVP inked a five-year, $228MM+ supermax extension with Milwaukee ahead of his championship 2020/21 season with the Bucks.

“This is a dream come true for a kid from Sepolia, Athens, Greece, born from immigrant parents. I could have never imagined I would be in this position,” Antetokounmpo said during a news conference about the purchase on Friday. “I want to be involved in the community as much as possible. I know Milwaukee invested a lot in me, and I want to invest a lot of me back into the city of Milwaukee.”

For more on Antetokounmpo’s foray into MLB ownership, check out the story at MLB Trade Rumors.

There’s more out of the Central Division: