Keita Bates-Diop

Spurs Notes: Bassey, Bates-Diop, White, Murray, Primo

Last month, Charles Bassey was trying to keep his job with the Sixers, but he’s been given a much larger role since joining the Spurs, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. On October 13, Philadelphia waived the 22-year-old, who had fallen to fourth on the team’s center depth chart after the signing of Montrezl Harrell. Eleven days later, Bassey got a second chance with San Antonio on a two-way contract.

“He knows his role,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He rebounds, blocks shots, runs the floor, and he does it with a lot of energy.”

Bassey has more than doubled his playing time in his second NBA season, averaging 6.1 points and 6.6 rebounds in 16.3 minutes per night. He only appeared in just 23 games as a rookie, but he’s still thankful for the opportunity he got from Sixers coach Doc Rivers.

“Me and Doc, we were good,” Bassey said. “Doc was one of the coaches I was excited to play for, but everything didn’t work out. Both these coaches (Rivers and Popovich) have coached great guys. Doc coached ‘KG’ (Kevin Garnett in Boston) and Pop has coached Tim Duncan. Philly gave me the opportunity to play in this league, and I am grateful to that organization. But playing for the Spurs right now is a dream come true.”

There’s more from San Antonio:

  • Since joining the Spurs last season, Keita Bates-Diop has learned to be ready for anything, Orsborn adds in a separate story. That was useful Thursday night in Sacramento when he found out shortly before game time that he would be starting because Keldon Johnson was sidelined by ankle soreness. “I am always constantly ready when I hear a guy is maybe in, maybe out,” Bates-Diop said. “My mind is always ready regardless.”
  • Watching Derrick White and Dejounte Murray square off in Wednesday’s Celtics-Hawks game was a reminder that the Spurs have moved on from what appeared to be their backcourt of the future, notes Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News. San Antonio traded White to Boston in February and dealt Murray to Atlanta in June, and the Spurs are now building around Johnson and Devin Vassell.
  • Although Dr. Hillary Cauthen has reportedly settled her lawsuit against the Spurs and Joshua Primo, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Department is continuing its investigation of the case as it considers possible criminal charges, Orsborn tweets.

Several Players Set To Receive Salary Guarantees

Most players who are still on non-guaranteed contracts as the NBA’s regular season begins won’t have their salaries for 2022/23 fully guaranteed until January. The league-wide salary guarantee date is January 10, and teams must waive players on non-guaranteed contracts on or before January 7 in order to avoid being on the hook for the full-season salaries.

However, a number of players on non-guaranteed deals have language in their contracts that calls for them to receive full or partial guarantees if they’re not waived before their team’s first game of the regular season. Those players are as follows:


Full guarantees:

  • Dalano Banton (Raptors): Partial guarantee ($300,000) increases to full guarantee ($1,563,518).
  • Keita Bates-Diop (Spurs): Non-guaranteed salary ($1,878,720) becomes fully guaranteed.
  • Justin Champagnie (Raptors): Partial guarantee ($325,000) increases to full guarantee ($1,637,966).
  • Tre Jones (Spurs): Partial guarantee ($500,000) increases to full guarantee ($1,782,621).

As our full list of early salary guarantee dates shows, Isaiah Joe (Sixers), Josh Jackson (Raptors), and D.J. Wilson (Raptors) also would’ve had their salaries become fully guaranteed if they had remained under contract through their teams’ first regular season games. However, they were all waived within the last week. Joe has since signed with the Thunder on a deal that includes a guaranteed first-year salary.

Partial guarantees:

  • Matthew Dellavedova (Kings): Non-guaranteed salary ($2,628,597) becomes partially guaranteed ($250,000).
  • Haywood Highsmith (Heat): Partial guarantee ($50,000) increases to $400,000.
  • Luke Kornet (Celtics): Partial guarantee ($300,000) increases to $1,066,639.
  • Chima Moneke (Kings): Partial guarantee ($250,000) increases to $500,000.
  • Markieff Morris (Nets): Non-guaranteed salary ($2,905,581) becomes partially guaranteed ($500,000).
  • KZ Okpala (Kings): Partial guarantee ($250,000) increases to $500,000.
  • Edmond Sumner (Nets): Partial guarantee ($250,000) increases to $500,000.

Guarantee dates are a matter of negotiation between a team and a player, so there’s nothing stopping a club from approaching a player and asking him to agree to push that date back. If a player feels as if he’ll be waived if he says no, he may agree.

This happened last season, for instance, when Isaac Bonga‘s and Sam Dekker‘s contracts with the Raptors called for their salaries to be fully guaranteed as of opening night. Both players assented to moving their guarantee dates back to November 6. When that new deadline arrived, Toronto opted to retain Bonga and guarantee his full salary while waiving Dekker.

In other words, it’s not yet a sure thing that all the players mentioned above will get the guarantees described here, even if they remain under contract through Wednesday (or Tuesday, in Kornet’s case). We may get word in a day or two that a couple of them agreed to postpone their salary guarantee dates.

For the most part though, we should count on this group of players receiving some added security, with a handful of names coming off our list of players who still have non-guaranteed salaries.

Texas Notes: Roby, Bates-Diop, Fernando, Silas

Forward Isaiah Roby has been a fan of the Spurs‘ organization since childhood, reports Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. After the fourth-year power forward was waived by the Thunder over the summer, San Antonio claimed him off waivers.

“[The Spurs] were the team my grandpa really liked watching,” the Dixon, Illinois native said. “… Ever since then, I’ve had an interest in the Spurs and the way they play basketball.”

Roby was initially drafted with the No. 45 pick out of Nebraska by the Pistons. The Mavericks traded for his draft rights later that summer. He suited up for the team’s G League affiliate, the Texas Legends, before being flipped to the Thunder in January 2020. He averaged 10.1 PPG on .514/.444/.672 shooting splits in 45 games during his 2021/22 season with Oklahoma City. The 6’8″ forward also contributed 4.8 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.8 SPG and 0.8 BPG.

According to McDonald, Roby was apparently surprised to be waived by the Thunder during the offseason. In San Antonio, he joins another rebuilding effort that features plenty of intriguing young prospects, with presumably more to come in the next few seasons. The Spurs have liked what they’ve seen from Roby so far.

“He is really more skilled than I was expecting, and he’s a little bigger than I expected,” head coach Gregg Popovich observed. “He handles himself really well.”

There’s more out of the Lone Star State:

  • Spurs forward Keita Bates-Diop is in the running for the last open spot on San Antonio’s standard 15-man roster, having turned in solid performances in two preseason games as a starter, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. McDonald notes that Bates-Diop may start tonight against the Pelicans in the team’s third preseason contest after averaging 9.5 PPG in the first two. “His game improves with every increase in his confidence,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “That’s why he’s still here.” Though Bates-Diop may not ultimately start for the Spurs, McDonald predicts he’ll remain in San Antonio through opening night, thus guaranteeing he gets paid his full $1.9MM salary. “Whether you just signed a new deal or you’re on a one-year or whatever it is, you should always feel like you’re battling for it,” Bates-Diop said. “You don’t want to get too comfortable.”
  • The Rockets front office is excited about the fit of 6’9″ fourth-year center Bruno Fernando as a rim-runner, per Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link). Iko notes that Fernando becoming a lob threat will open up the downhill offensive games of starting guards Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green.
  • Rockets head coach Stephen Silas has yet to clear the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, reports Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston (Twitter link). Berman adds (Twitter link) that assistant coach John Lucas, acting as the team’s head coach while Silas remains ill, has expressed optimism that Silas will clear protocols and be able to travel later to join the team in Miami for its next preseason game.

Southwest Notes: Alvarado, Ingram, Zion, Bates-Diop, Spurs Picks

Jose Alvarado has had an eventful rookie season for the Pelicans. He started his NBA career undrafted after four seasons at Georgia Tech, then signed a two-way deal with New Orleans.

The 23-year-old rarely played in the first few months of the season, but made a significant impact when he did, so coach Willie Green started playing him more and the front office took notice — Alvarado was promoted to a four-year, $6.5MM contract last week, with the final two seasons being non-guaranteed.

Alvarado recently spoke to William Guillory of The Athletic about a number of topics. Here are a couple highlights from the interview.

On his new contract:

“It’s amazing. When I found out the deal was happening and I’m officially signing, it was like another dream come true. It was another step for me as I’m continuing to go after my dreams. It was something you can’t really picture or put words to because it’s all you’ve ever dreamed of doing your whole life. When it did happen, all I could do was sit back and thank God. It just felt like something out of a movie.”

On his incredible steals numbers (if he qualified, he’d lead the league in steal percentage and steals per 36 minutes):

“I’ve always felt like defense is 90 percent heart. The other 10 percent you get from developing skill, having length, all that other stuff. With me, I just take every possession personal. I’m not the guy they bring up when they talk about great defensive players, but I’m gonna make sure I am soon enough. It’s more about the mindset.

“I’m not sure I’m eligible for NBA All-Defense or anything like that, but I want to be in that category. I feel like I’m in that category as one of those best defenders, even though I’m a rookie.”

It’s an interesting read and worth checking out in full if you’re an Athletic subscriber.

Here’s more from the Southwest:

  • The Pelicans guaranteed themselves a spot in the play-in tournament by beating the Kings on Tuesday night, Guillory writes in a separate article. Brandon Ingram is excited for what the team can show once they get Zion Williamson back in action. “When you look at it on paper, it’s exciting. It’s like, ‘OK, we added CJ (McCollum). If you throw the big fella in there, it’s going to be serious,'” Ingram told The Athletic. “We’re just monitoring him as he continues to go through his rehab and do more work. It’s good to have him back. It looks like he’s having fun around the guys. It’s good to have him around.”
  • After defeating the Nuggets on Tuesday, the Spurs are also guaranteed a spot in the play-in, and Keita Bates-Diop‘s versatility has proven to be valuable, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “I am big and long enough to play most positions and I know how to play,” Bates-Diop said. “It’s not just the size. It’s knowing the coverages, knowing one through five. I am knowledgeable about a bunch of different things, so they trust me out there at the five.”
  • The Raptors have earned a playoff berth, which means the Spurs now hold three first-round picks in the 2022 draft, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). The Spurs acquired the lottery-protected pick in the deal that sent Thaddeus Young to the Raptors. The Spurs own Toronto’s pick, Boston’s pick (via the Derrick White trade), and their own.

Southwest Notes: Bates-Diop, Jones, Collins, Ingram

Keita Bates-Diop is out of the league’s health and safety protocols, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News tweets. The Spurs forward, who has missed four games, is no longer on the team’s injury report. San Antonio plays Golden State on Tuesday.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies guard Tyus Jones is out of the league’s health and safety protocols, according to the team’ PR department (Twitter link). Jones was available to play against Philadelphia on Monday.
  • The Spurs have recalled forward Zach Collins from their G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs, Marc Spears of The Undefeated tweets. Collins played four games and averaged 15.3 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.8 APG and 1.8 BPG in 25.7 MPG. Collins, who has only appeared in 11 NBA games the past two seasons due to shoulder, foot and ankle injuries, has yet to make his San Antonio debut after undergoing foot surgery last summer.
  • Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram didn’t suit up against Cleveland on Monday but he should return soon, Jim Eichenhofer tweets. Ingram has been out since January 20th with an ankle injury. “He’s getting better and better,” coach Willie Green said. “We expect him back soon.”

Injury/COVID Notes: Gobert, Mitchell, FVV, Barnes, Banes, More

Jazz stars Rudy Gobert (left calf strain) and Donovan Mitchell (concussion protocol) continue to be sidelined and will miss Wednesday’s game against the Suns, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link). It will be Gobert’s second consecutive absence, while Mitchell has missed five straight. Both players are having strong seasons for the reeling Jazz, who are 4-9 in their last 13 games (30-18 overall, fourth in the West).

Here are some more injury and COVID-related notes from around the NBA:

  • The Raptors are playing without Fred VanVleet (knee soreness) and Scottie Barnes (swollen right wrist) on Tuesday night against Charlotte. Coach Nick Nurse called VanVleet “day-to-day,” while Barnes was a late scratch, as Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports relays (all Twitter links). VanVleet could be an All-Star this season, averaging 21.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.7 steals on .421/.393/.870 shooting through 41 games. He leads the league in minutes per game at 38.2. Barnes is one of the leading candidates for the Rookie of the Year award.
  • Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane has rejoined the team after clearing the league’s health and safety protocols, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon tweets.
  • De’Aaron Fox (ankle) and Chimezie Metu (knee) were both late scratches for the Kings on Tuesday at Boston, Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee writes. Thankfully, coach Alvin Gentry said neither injury is serious. “It’s no big deal,” Gentry said. “If this was a playoff series or something, they would be playing, but it’s precautionary measures and stuff.”
  • Spurs forward Keita Bates-Diop has entered the health and safety protocols, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter).
  • Matisse Thybulle returned to action for the Sixers against New Orleans on Tuesday after a five-game absence. Thybulle suffered a sprained shoulder after being pushed in the back on a dunk by Dennis Schroder, resulting in a flagrant foul, according to Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Southwest Notes: Bane, Tillie, Terry, Spurs, G. Green

As the 30th overall pick of the 2020 draft, Grizzlies second-year guard Desmond Bane is used to being overlooked, but he’ll always feel like he should’ve gone off the board earlier, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic.

I will never let it go,” Bane told The Athletic. “I feel like teams had their chance to get me and knew who I was. It wasn’t like I was one of those one-and-done guys. You had four years to do your research on me. All my background stuff checked out. That’s on them.”

Bane has proven to be an ideal fit with star Ja Morant, Vokunov adds. After putting up 9.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in 68 games (17 starts) as a rookie, Bane has increased those numbers to 17.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists through 39 games this season. He also sports a stellar shooting line of .466/.416/.906 for the 26-14 Grizzlies, currently the No. 4 seed in the West.

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Keith Smith of Spotrac provides contract details (via Twitter) for Killian Tillie and Tyrell Terry of the Grizzlies. Tillie was promoted to a standard deal from a two-way contract last week, with Terry taking his two-way spot. Smith relays that Tillie will receive a portion of the room exception for his two-year deal, which is fully guaranteed at $1,901,625 for both 2021/22 and 2022/23, while Terry signed a two-year, two-way contract.
  • Spurs forward Keita Bates-Diop leans on an ancient philosophy to adjust to life as a NBA journeyman, especially during a pandemic, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Bates-Diop, an avid reader, utilizes Stoicism to deal with the uncertainties of life. “I’ve tried to be even-keeled throughout it all, just trusting the work without getting too emotional, too high or too low,” Bates-Diop said. “It’s all about acceptance. Accepting the things that happen, the things you can and can’t control. That was a big thing for me, separating the two.
  • Spurs rookies Joshua Primo and Joe Wieskamp performed well in a blowout loss on Tuesday, but both players know they’re going to spend more time in the G League when the team returns to full strength, Orsborn writes in a separate article for the Express-News. Coach Gregg Popovich says Primo is very mature for his young age (he just turned 19 two weeks ago). “Joshua has an uncanny maturity about him, kind of a steady demeanor,” Popovich said. “He is not awed by the NBA or anything like that. He makes good decisions. He definitely knows how to play. It’s just a matter of getting stronger and aware that these are men and they are coming after your head, so to speak. He just has to get used to that physicality and all that sort of thing.”
  • 35-year-old veteran Gerald Green, who recently decided to unretire and take another shot at the NBA, will be playing for the Rockets‘ G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Spurs Notes: Bates-Diop, Murray, Hammon, G League

Keita Bates-Diop was an unlikely candidate to become the first Spurs player with a 30-point game this season, but the little-used forward reached that number in Thursday’s win over the Lakers, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Bates-Diop had 88 total points in his first 23 games, but he exploded in L.A., hitting all 11 of his shots from the field in the best night of his career.

“That’s why he’s in the NBA,” teammate Lonnie Walker said. “You’ve got to put respect on almost any player that’s out there. We’re all here for a reason.”

Bates-Diop was named Big Ten Player of the Year at Ohio State in 2018, but he has found only limited success in the NBA. Taken by the Timberwolves with the 48th pick in that year’s draft, he spent a season and a half in Minnesota before being traded to Denver. He signed a two-way contract with the Spurs last season and earned a standard deal this year.

“He’s a conscientious guy,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s a great teammate. He’s becoming more and more conscientious all the time — and also a bit more confident, like he feels like he has a place.”

There’s more from San Antonio:

  • It took a lot of years and a lot of help for Dejounte Murray to develop into a top-level point guard, McDonald notes in a separate story. Drafted in 2016, Murray got to learn from Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard early in his career, but also had to overcome a torn ACL that wiped out his entire third season. “He had very little experience coming into the league and basically missed one whole season where he wasn’t able to develop,” Popovich said. “So at this point to see him playing the way he is, the confidence arena, where he’s got habits that are formed now — he understands the position. He understands the role and responsibility every night.”
  • Two WNBA teams have expressed interest in hiring Spurs assistant Becky Hammon as their head coach, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The New York Liberty and Las Vegas Aces have both reached out and there is mutual interest, according to Charania. Hammon has been rumored for years as a potential replacement for Popovich whenever he retires.
  • With the G League delaying the start of its regular season, Joshua Primo, Joe Wieskamp and Devontae Cacok may join the Spurs for Sunday’s game against Detroit, Orsborn tweets.

Spurs Notes: Final Roster Spot, Eubanks, McDermott, Walker

There appears to be a three-way competition for the Spurs‘ final roster spot, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. The team has 17 players with guaranteed contracts, and it looks like the decision will come down to forwards Luka SamanicKeita Bates-Diop and Al-Farouq Aminu.

Samanic, 21, was taken with the 19th pick in 2019, but hasn’t established himself in San Antonio, playing just 36 games in two seasons. The Spurs have an October 31 deadline to pick up his option for 2022/23, but they may decide to part with him before then. Coach Gregg Popovich gave Samanic a start in Friday’s preseason game, and McDonald described the results as “mixed.”

“He hasn’t played very much, so his is more of a confidence game and understanding what it takes to be a player,” Popovich explained.

Bates-Diop, 25, signed a two-year, $3.5MM contract before training camp began, but only this season is guaranteed at $1.7MM and he has been slowed by a hamstring injury. Aminu, who was acquired in the DeMar DeRozan sign-and-trade, is owed $10.1MM this season in the final year of his contract. Knee injuries have limited him to 41 games over the past two seasons and he recognizes that he has an uphill fight to make the roster.

“That’s your whole life,” he said. “You go to one camp and maybe there are 100 guys. Even from high school, everyone is competing. We understand the business of whatever the case can be.”

There’s more from San Antonio:

  • Drew Eubanks‘ place on the roster appears secure, even though the Spurs could easily afford to unload his $1.76MM salary, McDonald adds. Eubanks has steadily improved throughout his three seasons with the organization, and Popovich recently called him “a poor man’s Dave Cowens.”
  • Free-agent addition Doug McDermott feels suited to the Spurs’ new offensive philosophy, which is based on movement with fewer set plays, McDonald notes in a separate story. The 29-year-old is with his sixth NBA team, and San Antonio is counting on him to boost its outside shooting. “The system is great because it’s a lot of random basketball, and that’s what my game is built for,” he said.
  • Popovich is enjoying the challenge of coaching young players after so many years of having a veteran team, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. The coach also praised the progress of Lonnie Walker, saying he has added game-related knowledge to his athletic skills (Twitter link).

Spurs Notes: Bates-Diop, Roster Crunch, Nielsen, Offseason

Keita Bates-Diop, who recently re-signed with the Spurs, received a two-year contract worth the veteran’s minimum, with only the first year guaranteed, per Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link).

Bates-Diop told Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News (via Twitter) that he’s looking forward to the competition of training camp and expects that it won’t be easy to make the final 15-man roster, although his salary being fully guaranteed for the upcoming season is an indication the team likes him. Still, since San Antonio now has 17 players on guaranteed contracts, the situation is worth monitoring.

There’s more from San Antonio:

  • The Spurs announced in a press release that Matt Nielsen has been named an assistant coach for the team after serving as the head coach of their G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs, last season. Nielsen, a native of Australia, had a lengthy playing career in the NBL and then later in Europe prior to becoming a coach. He served as an assistant coach for the Australian National Team at the Tokyo Olympics this summer, where the Boomers won the bronze medal.
  • Zach Harper of The Athletic provided a thorough breakdown of the Spurs’ offseason, including a grade of their roster moves. Harper posits that San Antonio is officially in rebuilding mode and got significantly worse on the wing with the sign-and-trade of DeMar DeRozan to Chicago. DeRozan had one of the best and most efficient seasons of his career last year, and losing him leaves the team without a clear All-Star caliber player.
  • Harper notes that the onus will be on the team’s young core of Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker IV, and Devin Vassell to show significant growth in order to make the play-in tournament again. He thinks selecting Joshua Primo 12th overall in the draft was a reach, as no other teams rated him as highly as the Spurs.
  • Harper did like team’s acquisition of Thaddeus Young, considering him a clear upgrade over the departed Rudy Gay and Trey Lyles. He also thinks that Doug McDermott will help with perimeter shooting and scoring.