Kelly Olynyk

Free Agency Notes: Portis, Forbes, Cap Room, Dinwiddie

Bucks rotation players Bobby Portis ($3.8MM) and Bryn Forbes ($2.4MM) both have player options for the 2021/22 season, but are expected to turn down them in search of new contracts, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype said on his latest podcast with Yossi Gozlan. Since Milwaukee only has Non-Bird rights on both Portis and Forbes, it’ll be a challenge to bring them back, Gozlan notes.

Scotto and Gozlan discussed a handful of other free agency situations on the HoopsHype Podcast, examining the likelihood of P.J. Tucker returning to the Bucks, exploring whether Kyle Lowry is a realistic target for the Pelicans, and suggesting that the Hornets may be in the market for multiple centers – rather than just one – on the free agent market.

Here are a few more items related to the NBA’s upcoming free agent period:

Olympic Notes: Butler, Olynyk, Birch, Bjorkgren, Jokic, Australia

Jimmy Butler will not play for Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel tweets. Butler had an invite but he battled through a variety of ailments this season and had a short turnaround between seasons after Miami surprisingly reached the NBA Finals last summer.

We have more info on this year’s Olympics:

  • The Rockets’ Kelly Olynyk and Raptors’ Khem Birch are among the prominent players not listed among the 24 players Team Canada submitted to FIBA in advance of its Olympic qualifier, Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet tweets. They’re both unrestricted free agents. The Grizzlies’ Brandon Clarke is also not on the preliminary list, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets. The 24-man roster can be found here.
  • Nate Bjorkgren, who was let go by the Pacers after one season as head coach, will join Nick Nurse’s Team Canada staff, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Bjorkgren was one of Nurse’s top assistants before his stint with Indiana.
  • MVP Nikola Jokic won’t play for the Serbian team at the Olympic qualifier due to an exhausting NBA campaign, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Jokic told Serbian news agency Tanjug, “Simply, the condition of my body requires a longer absence from the court for recovery.” The Denver Post story asserts Jokic won’t play in the Olympics even if his national team qualifies, while an ESPN story says it’s unclear if Jokic would participate in Tokyo.
  • The Australian national team will play exhibitions against Team USA, Nigeria and Argentina in Las Vegas before departing for Tokyo, David Aldridge of The Athletic tweets. The 19-man preliminary roster, which will be trimmed to 12, is expected to be loaded with NBA players, including Ben Simmons and Joe Ingles.

Southwest Notes: Williamson, Doncic, Melli, Olynyk

Zion Williamson will be eligible for a rookie scale extension next summer, which makes the next 12 months critical for the Pelicans, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Although he has been hampered by injuries during his first two NBA seasons, Williamson has been brilliant when he’s been on the court, averaging 25.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 85 combined games. He provides a foundation for New Orleans to build around, but the Pelicans will need him to accept a long-term deal.

No player on a rookie scale contract has turned down a maximum-salary extension during the past decade, but Clark notes that Williamson’s circumstances are unusual. He’s already an All-Star at age 20 and he came into the NBA with a reported $75MM deal with Jordan Brand. He may not mind giving up a little bit of money to get to a larger market or a contending team. New Orleans is a combined 61-83 since adding Williamson and has missed the playoffs both years.

“My stepfather taught me different,” Williamson said at his exit interview. “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is kind of insane. So I’m not going to sit here and say we’re close. The reality of it is it was very disappointing not to be a part of the play-in tournament and stuff. We just have to come in and be better. That’s just me being real.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Luka Doncic is listed as questionable for today’s Game 4, but the Mavericks expect him to be available, according to Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. Doncic has a cervical strain and was feeling pain in his neck and left arm during Friday’s game. “I think he’s going to play, but we’ll see tomorrow,” coach Rick Carlisle told reporters Saturday. “Questionable, generally, from what I’ve seen this year with other teams and our team is more likely to play than not, in most cases.”
  • Olimpia Milano has interest in signing Mavericks big man Nicolò Melli after the playoffs, relays Dario Skerletic of Sportando. The original report came from Daniele Dallera of Corriere della Sera, who says Olimpia coach Ettore Messina has reached out to Melli’s agent several times. Melli spent five seasons with the team earlier in his career.
  • Kelly Olynyk exceeded expectations as a scorer and playmaker after the Rockets acquired him from Miami in March, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Olynyk will be an unrestricted free agent, but Houston has his Bird rights and a strong interest in keeping him on the roster.

14 NBA Players On Canada’s Preliminary Olympic Qualifying Roster

Team Canada has yet to secure a place in the men’s basketball event at the Tokyo Olympics, but the club should have a loaded roster as it looks to lock up a spot in a qualifying tournament next month.

Canada Basketball issued a press release today announcing its 21-player preliminary roster for the Olympic qualifier, and the group includes 14 players who finished the season on NBA contracts. Here’s the full list:

Of the seven players who didn’t play in the NBA this season, one (Bennett) is a former first overall pick, another (Nicholson) was also a first-round selection, and a third (Alexander) has NBA experience. Bell-Haynes has played in the G League, while Doornekamp, Ejim, and Nembhard all have extensive experience representing Canada in past international competitions.

Still, a few noteworthy names are missing from the list. Nuggets guard Jamal Murray is recovering from a torn ACL and won’t be able to participate. Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is also dealing with an injury, announcing on Instagram that rehabbing the plantar fasciitis in his right foot will prevent him from representing Team Canada.

Raptors big man Chris Boucher is a third notable omission. According to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link), Boucher is focused on rehabbing a knee sprain and wants to make sure he’s 100% healthy heading into 2021/22. He also has a somewhat uncertain contract situation — his $7MM salary for next season is non-guaranteed, though I’d be shocked if he’s not retained.

Even without Murray, Gilgeous-Alexander, and Boucher, Canada Basketball is in position to run out a roster stacked with NBA talent and led by former NBA Coach of the Year Nick Nurse.

While the final roster will depend in part on which players are available, none of the 21 players on the preliminary are on teams expected to still be alive for the conference finals. However, a club like Powell’s Mavericks or Barrett’s Knicks could surprise.

Team Canada will compete against Greece, China, Uruguay, Turkey, and the Czech Republic in a qualifying tournament in Victoria, British Columbia between June 29 and July 4. If the club wins that six-team qualifier, it will be part of the 12-team field in Tokyo and would be a legit contender for a medal.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Southwest Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Southwest Division:

DeMar DeRozan, Spurs, 31, SG/SF (Down) – Signed to a five-year, $139MM deal in 2016

DeRozan threw in a clunker in San Antonio’s play-in game against Memphis, shooting 5-for-21 from the field. The master of the mid-range game now enters unrestricted free agency in a league that craves 3-point shooters at the wing.

DeRozan does more than just knock down 18-footers. He’s got a knack for drawing fouls and this season he averaged a career-high 6.9 assists. What will that package of skills draw on the open market? We’ll find out if DeRozan doesn’t reach an extension agreement with San Antonio. The Spurs have an exclusive window to reach a new deal with DeRozan before free agency begins at the start of August.

Lonzo Ball, Pelicans, 23, PG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $33.5MM deal in 2017

Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram said glowing things about Ball in their post-season press conferences. Ball said he would “love” to remain in New Orleans. Now, the proverbial ball is in the front office’s court.

Will the Pelicans extend a $14.36MM qualifying offer to Ball to make him a restricted free agent? If so, will they match any offer sheet? Should the Pelicans do so, they’re basically telling everyone they believe the trio of Williamson, Ingram and Ball is a championship-caliber core. That’s a pretty big leap of faith, considering the Pelicans went 31-41 this season with each of them playing at least 55 games. But Ball’s going to get paid this summer, one way or another.

Josh Richardson, Mavericks, 27, SF/SG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $42MM deal in 2018

Richardson was acquired from the Sixers in a draft-night deal to upgrade their perimeter defense. According to the numbers, Richardson hasn’t made much of an impact in that area. He ranked 22nd among shooting guards on ESPN’s defensive real plus-minus ratings. Richardson’s offensive rating was even lower after averaging 12.1 PPG on 42.7% shooting (33% on threes) despite playing with a premier play-maker.

Richardson holds an $11.6MM option on his contract for next season. Perhaps he’ll seek for a multi-year deal on the open market but it may be prudent for him to take the guaranteed money and test the waters next summer.

Kelly Olynyk, Rockets, 30, PF/C (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $50MM deal in 2017

Anyone want a stretch four who averages 19 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 4.1 APG and 1.4 SPG? Those are the stats Olynyk posted in a 27-game stint with the tanking Rockets. Those numbers can be taken with a grain of salt – Olynyk didn’t suddenly turn into an All-Star level talent at 30 years old. He did show that he can still be a highly productive rotation player. For obvious reasons, Olynyk enjoyed his stint in Houston and that will factor into his decision as he heads into unrestricted free agency. If nothing else, he gained more leverage over the past two months.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southwest Notes: Jeffries, Grizzlies, Olynyk, Pelicans

While DaQuan Jeffries will technically be part of the Spurs‘ roster for their play-in game on Wednesday and any other games they may play this season, he won’t see any action for the club in 2020/21, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News.

Jeffries, who was claimed off waivers by the Spurs on Saturday, is mainly a developmental pickup, according to Orsborn, who suggests that the team will evaluate the young swingman during the summer. However, it’s worth noting that Jeffries has a team option for 2021/22, which San Antonio will have to pick up or decline prior to free agency and Summer League play. If the Spurs don’t exercise that option, Jeffries could move on to another club.

Here are a few more Southwest notes:

  • The Grizzlies have joined the list of teams increasing the number of fans they’ll allow into their building for the postseason, announcing in a press release that they’ll bump the capacity of FedEx Forum from 20% to 40%. Of course, the Grizzlies will end up just hosting a single play-in game if they’re unable to earn one of the final two playoff spots in the West.
  • With free agency around the corner, Rockets big man Kelly Olynyk said his newfound familiarity with the team and its staff will be a factor in his offseason decision. “I know the coaching staff here, the organization, the people,” Olynyk said (video link via Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston). “I know I have a role here if I decide to come back and I think they would welcome it.”
  • After a disappointing showing in 2020/21, the Pelicans will be under pressure to take a major step forward next season, according to Will Guillory of The Athletic, who states that finishing 10 games below .500 again won’t be acceptable.

Southwest Notes: Olynyk, Terry, Hayes, Grizzlies

Since Kelly Olynyk arrived in Houston, the Rockets have won just four of 26 games, but the veteran big man has played some of the best basketball of his career during that stretch, averaging 18.9 points and 8.6 rebounds on .561/.382/.850 shooting in 24 games (31.7 MPG). That hasn’t been lost on him, as Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle details.

“I’ve had a good opportunity here to play my game,” Olynyk said. “I’ve come in to help these young guys. Their style of offense is great for me. … It definitely factors in (to be) somewhere you can be yourself, play basketball the way you’ve always played. It’s been great here. I’ve loved it, the opportunities, the players, the coaches. I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s obviously shown on the court.”

Olynyk will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, and Rockets head coach Stephen Silas believes the 30-year-old would be a fit in Houston going forward, per Feigen. While Olynyk sounds interested in that possibility, he acknowledged that he’ll have to consider a number of factors once he reaches the open market.

“Obviously, money is a factor at some point,” Olynyk said. “But fit, how you’re fitting, style of play. Obviously, you want to win, but you also want to help somebody win. You don’t want to go and kind of get lost in a shuffle. You want to go and contribute and help a team grow and win and do something special. … Then, obviously, you’ve got to look at one year versus two or three or four. There’s a bunch of factors that weigh into it. You try to make the best decision that you can.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Mavericks rookie guard Tyrell Terry, who has been out since the All-Star break for personal reasons, said on Instagram this week that he plans to be “back and better than before,” as Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News tweets. While it’s not clear when Terry will be available again, his Instagram post included the message, “I will see y’all soon!”
  • Second-year Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes has made some positive strides this season, according to Christian Clark of NOLA.com, who says Hayes’ next step for continued growth is to establish more consistency. The big man will make $5.35MM in 2021/22 and New Orleans will have to decide later this year whether to pick up his $6.8MM option for 2022/23.
  • Given how well the Grizzlies have performed without some key players for long stretches of the season, anything less than a playoff spot should be considered a disappointment at this point, says Mark Giannotto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. The way the Grizzlies close the season will also determine how they move forward in the offseason, Giannotto opines.

Southeast Notes: Gafford, Collins, Hawks Injuries, Olynyk

Daniel Gafford thought there was a “50-50” chance he could be dealt by the Bulls before the Wizards traded for him, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic.

“I was in and out (of the lineup). I wasn’t really playing as much,” Gafford said. “So, there was a lot of stuff going on in my head, just really trying to stay as positive as I could.”

He’s thriving thus far since joining the Wizards, averaging 11.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 2.0 BPG in 17.1 MPG through his first eight games.

The Wizards were not only interested in adding an athletic body in Gafford. They also liked his affordable contract — he has a non-guaranteed $1.78MM salary next season, a guarantee Washington will almost certainly pick up given his production.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks big man John Collins admits that trade rumors affected him mentally before the deadline, he told Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (video link). “It’s not an easy thing to deal with,” he said. Collins will be a highly-coveted restricted free agent this summer, since he was unable to reach an extension agreement with the club last fall. “Very disappointing to not have something done,” he said. “I wanted to stay here, I want to be here. Now the situation being as it is, just (have to) weigh all my options.”
  • De’Andre Hunter, Tony Snell and Kris Dunn missed the Hawks’ game against Orlando on Tuesday and there’s no timetable for their return. Coach Nate McMillan provided updates on the trio on Monday and noted that Hunter (knee) was unable to participate in practice, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic tweets. Snell did some light running and shooting, while Dunn did some live work. They’re both sidelined by ankle injuries.
  • While Heat guard Victor Oladipo is sidelined by an knee injury, one of the players traded to Houston, Kelly Olynyk, has thrived in his new NBA home, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes. “It’s different for me coming from Boston and then Miami, just a different role,” Olynyk said. “But it’s been a great opportunity for me to go out there and play and help these young guys and help this team in a different way than my role was in Miami.” He had 10 points and eight rebounds against his former team on Monday.

Contract Details: Deck, Stevens, Olynyk

The Thunder used the remainder of this year’s non-taxpayer mid-level exception — a little over $3.87MM — in Gabriel Deck‘s creatively constructed four-year contract, Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports tweets.

The remainder of Deck’s contract includes a non-guaranteed salary of $3,676,852 next season; a non-guaranteed $3,483,334 in 2022/23, with the guarantee kicking in if he’s on the roster after September 20, 2022; and a non-guaranteed $3,483,334 in the final season, including a team option. Assuming he plays out the contract – with the Thunder or another team – he’d be eligible for restricted free agency in 2023 or unrestricted free agency in 2024.

We have more contract-related news:

  • Lamar Stevens received more than triple of the prorated minimum, $652,366 rather than $203,043, from the Cavaliers for the remainder of the season, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. However, the remainder of Stevens’ four-year contract offers no salary protections or guaranteed dates in any of the years.
  • Rockets big man Kelly Olynyk earned a $1MM incentive bonus after playing his 1,493rd minute this season, Marks tweets. Olynyk will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
  • ICYMI, we broke down all the dead money teams are carrying on their caps this season, with the Pistons leading the pack. Check out our story here.

Rockets Notes: Olynyk, Bradley, Martin, Brown

The qualifying tournaments to determine the final four men’s basketball teams that will participate in the Tokyo Olympics will begin on June 29, about a month before the NBA’s free agent period gets underway.

Rockets big man Kelly Olynyk will be a free agent this summer, but he’s not planning to skip those qualifiers to avoid risking an injury before signing a new contract. As Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle details, Olynyk acknowledged that he’ll take his impending free agency into account as he considers his decision, but he wants to represent his home country as Team Canada looks to secure an Olympic berth.

“It’s always been a goal of mine to play in the Olympics and represent Canada on the highest stage. Hopefully, we can this summer,” Olynyk said. “… Usually, your free agency is done July 1 and the Olympics are the beginning of August and you’re good to go. Now, the Olympics are the end of July and free agency is the beginning of August, so it’s kind of flip-flopped. Obviously, that plays a role and you have to think about it, whether it’s insurance or what the best route to go is. We’ll cross those bridges when they come but my goal is to go out there and play and represent my country.”

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Since the Rockets don’t project to be able to open up much cap room this offseason, John Hollinger and Kelly Iko of The Athletic wonder if the team might opt to remain over the cap, perhaps bringing back Olynyk and Avery Bradley on short-term deals as possible 2022 trade chips.
  • In a separate story for The Athletic, Iko takes a deep dive into Kenyon Martin Jr.‘s development as a rookie this season, exploring the strides he has made and how he fits into Houston’s long-term plans. Martin pointed to improving his shot off the dribble as something he intends to work on before his second season.
  • Rockets wing Sterling Brown has missed the team’s last two games with left knee soreness, but head coach Stephen Silas doesn’t expect the injury to be a “long-time thing,” predicting that Brown will return soon, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Silas also offered high praise for Brown’s play this season: “He’s shooting the ball consistently for us, shooting the ball extremely well, having a career season. He’s someone I can put on the floor whether he’s starting or coming off the bench, he will produce on both ends of the floor.”