Kenrich Williams

Lowe’s Latest: K. Williams, Payne, Monk, Burks, Hartenstein

For the 10th year in a row, ESPN’s Zach Lowe has named his end-of-season “Luke Walton All-Stars,” honoring overlooked rotation players and NBA journeymen who have impressed him most over the course of the year.

Nets guard Bruce Brown, Warriors forward Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Raptors teammates Yuta Watanabe and DeAndre’ Bembry are among the players who made Lowe’s list, which also includes a handful of interesting tidbits on some of his choices. Here are a few highlights:

  • Thunder forward Kenrich Williams, who resisted signing a two-way contract multiple times earlier in his career, has enjoyed a breakout year in Oklahoma City. Sources tell Lowe that several playoff teams expressed trade interest in Williams prior to March’s deadline, but he wanted to remain in OKC, where he’s under contract for two more years (both non-guaranteed).
  • Suns guard Cameron Payne told Lowe that he thought his NBA career might be over in 2020, when the Mavericks opted to sign Trey Burke over him for the summer restart after he had played well for Dallas’ G League affiliate. However, he got an opportunity shortly thereafter with Phoenix, in large part because head coach Monty Williams had gotten to know him during their time with the Thunder.
  • Another former first-round pick, Hornets guard Malik Monk, was concerned about his NBA career last year as well, following his suspension for violating the NBA’s drug policy, his brother Marcus Monk told Lowe. The former Kentucky standout has enjoyed a career year while trying to let go of tension about his role, Lowe writes. “Guys who have success in college think the NBA is going to go a certain way,” Marcus said. “You think you’re invincible. Malik fell victim to that. I’m proud of how he matured.”
  • Before he signed a one-year, $6MM contract with the Knicks last fall, Alec Burks discussed a deal with the Bulls, according to Lowe. Burks’ familiarity with Knicks assistant Johnnie Bryant from their time in Utah was a factor in his decision to choose New York.
  • After an underwhelming stint in Denver, Isaiah Hartenstein has played well for the Cavaliers, averaging 8.3 PPG and 6.0 RPG in 16 games (17.9 MPG). Lowe says he wouldn’t be surprised if Hartenstein turns down his minimum-salary player option for 2021/22 to seek a new deal.

Northwest Notes: Edwards, Wolves’ Sale, K. Williams, Jokic

Karl-Anthony Towns sees Timberwolves teammate Anthony Edwards as a clear choice for Rookie of the Year, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Edwards had a slow start to his first NBA season, but he has been on a torrid pace lately, averaging 30.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists in his last four games while shooting 48% from three-point range. Edwards and Hornets guard LaMelo Ball are the leading contenders for top rookie honors, but Towns doesn’t see it as a close race.

“There ain’t no other rookie in this league getting double-teamed. There ain’t no other rookie putting up the numbers Ant is. There ain’t no other rookie causing the havoc and mayhem before the game even starts with the scouting reports like Anthony is,” Towns said. “But I don’t want to hear nothing about no other people who are rookies. I don’t want to hear that. I don’t go by hype, I go by stats.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Everyone involved in the proposed sale of the Timberwolves remains confident that a deal will be completed, Krawczynski notes in a profile of prospective new co-owner Marc Lore. He and Alex Rodriguez are nearing the end of a 30-day exclusive negotiating window to finalize the purchase of the team.
  • Kenrich Williams wasn’t certain to win a roster spot with the Thunder in training camp, but now he seems like part of the team’s future, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Williams was considered salary filler when Oklahoma City acquired him from the Pelicans as part of the Steven Adams deal in November. He has earned a spot in the rotation and is averaging 7.7 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in 21.5 minutes per night. “I’ve solidified my role as far as what I can be in this league,” Williams said. “My first two years I felt like I was just a pretty solid defender, solid all-around player, but offensively is where I wanted to take that next jump.”
  • The close relationship between Nuggets coach Michael Malone and MVP candidate Nikola Jokic has helped the organization develop a championship culture, writes Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post. After six years together, they have created a belief throughout the organization that Denver can challenge for a title. “The guy gave me everything,” Jokic said of Malone. “The guy gave me the freedom, he led me, he showed me the way. And we built a great relationship, not just he’s the coach and I’m a player. We are friends, too. It’s more than basketball.”

Free Agent Stock Watch: Northwest 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 Northwest Division:

Mike Conley, Jazz, 33, PG (Up) – Signed to a five-year, $152.6MM deal in 2016

After an injury-marred season, Conley has bounced back in a big way for a team with the league’s best record. He got a chance to play in the All-Star Game for this first time and he’s managed to stay on the court for the most part. His production has been steady and efficient (16.4 PPG, 5.4 APG, career-high 42.4% on 3s).

Despite his age, Conley has given himself some leverage in his walk year. However, he professed his love to Utah’s organization and style of play last month, saying he doesn’t want to go elsewhere. Barring another early-round playoff flameout, the Jazz will probably shrug off luxury-tax issues and retain their floor leader.

JaMychal Green, Nuggets, 30, PF (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $14.76MM deal in 2020

Green’s playing time was already diminishing before the Nuggets went on a shopping spree Thursday to fortify their frontcourt. The additions of Aaron Gordon and JaVale McGee mean that Green won’t be shedding his warmups very often the remainder of the season. Even with playing time factored in, Green’s rebounding numbers dropped significantly this month. The saving grace is that Green’s $7.56MM salary for next season is a player option. He won’t be pumping up his value, so it’s safe to assume he’ll opt in and let the Nuggets decide whether to keep him or deal him.

Kenrich Williams, Thunder, 26, SG/SF (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $6MM deal in 2020

While the Thunder’s front office continues to pile up draft picks, the current roster has the feel of tryout camp, especially with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander out for an extended period. The flip side is that players like Williams get a chance to show where they fit into the league.

Williams has been receiving steady playing time and he’s been productive of late, scoring in double figures in six of the last seven games. He’s also averaging 3.3 APG during that span, displaying his ability to make plays for others. His free throwing shooting remains woeful (54.1%). Williams’ $2MM salary for next season is non-guaranteed, but that’s a pittance for a rotation player, so expect him to remain on that contract.

Harry Giles, Trail Blazers, 22, C, (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $1.68MM deal in 2020

Opportunity knocked for Giles – and once again, he wound up in the trainer’s room. With Jusuf Nurkic sidelined for two months by a wrist injury, Giles got a chance to jump into the rotation as Enes Kanter’s backup. He was relatively ineffective before suffering a calf injury that sidelined him for over a month. With Nurkic back in action this weekend, Giles returns to third-string status at best. The 20th pick of the 2017 draft is still very young but his career is already at a crossroads as he enters unrestricted free agency again this summer. Will another organization give him a chance or will he have to seek employment overseas?

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Rumors: Brogdon, Ball, K. Williams, Bjelica

A Tuesday report stated that the Pacers are listening to inquiries on Malcolm Brogdon, and Chris Mannix of SI.com wrote today that the Hawks have had discussions about the guard. However, Brogdon won’t be dealt this week, two sources tell J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (subscription required). Still, Indiana is worth keeping an eye on, as the club has underperformed to some extent this season.

Multiples sources tell Michael that Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren, who has strong relationships with Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis, can be “too much of a micro-manager,” while another source suggested that’s to be expected for a first-year head coach who is still learning the ropes.

There’s no indication that Bjorkgren’s job is in any jeopardy, but the coaching staff may receive an offseason shake-up, Michael reports. In the meantime, it’s unclear if the Pacers will make any deadline moves — their plan as of a few weeks ago was to stand pat and wait for Caris LeVert to round into form and T.J. Warren to get healthy, says Michael.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA:

Western Contract Details: Grizzlies, KCP, Hood, Thunder

John Konchar‘s new deal with the Grizzlies, which will use part of the team’s mid-level exception, is guaranteed for the first two seasons, according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). In 2022/23, only $840K of Konchar’s full $2.3MM salary is guaranteed, and his $2.4MM salary for ’23/24 is non-guaranteed, Smith adds.

Konchar was one of a handful of Grizzlies who signed a multiyear contract that isn’t fully guaranteed on the back end. As Smith explains (via Twitter), De’Anthony Melton‘s four-year contract, which has a descending structure, only has a partial guaranteed of $1.5MM on his $8MM salary for 2023/24.

Meanwhile, Jontay Porter, who got a three-year deal, has a partial guarantee of $300K on his $1.95MM salary for 2021/22, then has a non-guaranteed $2MM salary in ’22/23, per Smith (Twitter link). Porter’s contract also came out of Memphis’ MLE.

Here are a few more contract details from around the Western Conference, all courtesy of Smith:

Four-Team Jrue Holiday, Steven Adams Trade Officially Complete

The Pelicans, Thunder, Bucks, and Nuggets have officially completed the four-team trade that will send Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee and Steven Adams to New Orleans, the Pelicans announced today in a press release.

In total, the mega-deal involves 10 players, five draft picks, and two future pick swaps. The trade breaks down as follows:

  • Bucks acquire Holiday and the draft rights to Sam Merrill (No. 60 pick; from Pelicans).
  • Pelicans acquire Adams, Eric Bledsoe, the Bucks’ 2025 first-round pick (unprotected), the Bucks’ 2027 first-round pick (unprotected), and the right to swap first-round picks with the Bucks in 2024 and 2026.
  • Thunder acquire George Hill, Darius MillerKenrich Williams (sign-and-trade), Josh Gray (sign-and-trade), Zylan Cheatham (sign-and-trade), the Nuggets’ 2023 first-round pick (top-14 protected), the Wizards’ 2023 second-round pick (from Pelicans), and the Hornets’ 2024 second-round pick (from Pelicans).
  • Nuggets acquire the draft rights to RJ Hampton (No. 24 pick; from Bucks).

The deal began when the Bucks and Pelicans reached an agreement on a trade sending Holiday to Milwaukee last week. From there, the Thunder got involved when New Orleans agreed to flip Hill to Oklahoma City in a trade for Adams.

A draft-night deal between the Nuggets and Pelicans that involved the Nuggets’ 2023 first-rounder and the Bucks’ No. 24 pick (sent to New Orleans as part of the original Holiday agreement) was folded in to make it a four-team trade when the Pels agreed to flip Denver’s ’23 pick to OKC as part of the Adams package.

As cap expert Albert Nahmad has pointed out (via Twitter), it’s an intricate, complex transaction that had to make use of a slew of CBA rules. The Pelicans, who are signing Adams to a two-year extension as part of the trade, needed to sign-and-trade Williams, Gray, and Cheatham to Oklahoma City and guarantee most or all of Miller’s $7MM salary in order to abide by salary-matching rules.

Meanwhile, Adams gets a trade bonus worth a little over $2MM as part of the deal, while the Thunder create the largest trade exception in NBA history, worth $27.5MM, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

Unfortunately, as Nahmad observes (via Twitter), Oklahoma City will likely have to use that massive TPE immediately to accommodate the acquisition of Al Horford. Still, as John Hollinger of The Athletic writes, the Thunder should come out of their series of transactions with a handful of usable trade exceptions, including one worth $15.4MM.

A full breakdown of this offseason’s trades – including the ones not yet made official – can be found right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Williams, Gray, Cheatham Being Signed-And-Traded To Thunder In Adams Trade

Kenrich Williams, Josh Gray, and Zylan Cheatham will be dealt from the Pelicans to the Thunder as part of the massive multi-team trade that will send Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee and Steven Adams to New Orleans, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

[RELATED: Thunder trading Steven Adams to Pelicans]

The Pelicans needed to send out a little more salary in order to accommodate the incoming contracts of Adams ($27.5MM) and Eric Bledsoe ($16.9MM). Because Williams, Gray, and Cheatham were free agents, they’ll have to be signed-and-traded to be included in the deal.

Sign-and-trade contracts must run for at least three seasons, with a fully guaranteed first year, so being included in the trade will work out well for Williams, Gray, and Cheatham, as Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter). They would have been hard-pressed to find fully guaranteed minimum-salary contracts on the open market.

Darius Miller – who is also being sent to Oklahoma City from New Orleans – is another big winner in the swap, as he’ll have his $7MM salary guaranteed for salary-matching purposes.

With all of those players being included in the deal, Adams will no longer be required to waive his trade kicker, worth about $2MM, tweets Marks. That’ll bump the veteran center’s cap hit to about $29.6MM.

As reported by Charania, the blockbuster Holiday/Adams deal currently looks like this:

  • Bucks to acquire Holiday and the draft rights to Sam Merrill (No. 60 pick; from Pelicans).
  • Pelicans to acquire Adams, Bledsoe, the Bucks’ 2025 first-round pick (unprotected), the Bucks’ 2027 first-round pick (unprotected), and the right to swap first-round picks with the Bucks in 2024 and 2026.
  • Thunder to acquire George Hill, Miller, Williams, Gray, Cheatham, the Nuggets’ 2023 first-round pick (top-14 protected), the Wizards’ 2023 second-round pick (from Pelicans), and the Hornets’ 2024 second-round pick (from Pelicans).
  • Nuggets to acquire the draft rights to RJ Hampton (No. 24 pick; from Bucks).

It’s not clear if that’s what the trade will look like in its final form or if more pieces will be added before it becomes official.

The Bucks are taking the protections off the 2022 first-round pick they previously sent to the Cavaliers, and Cleveland is getting an extra second-round pick for Milwaukee for accommodating that change, which frees up the future first-rounders to be sent to New Orleans. That pick going to the Cavs will be Indiana’s 2025 second-rounder, per John Hollinger of The Athletic.

The Bucks/Cavaliers aspect of the deal could be completed separately, as cap expert Albert Nahmad tweets. But if it gets rolled into this trade, it would mean a fifth team joining the fray once it becomes official.

Southwest Notes: Gordon, Ball, Hart, Winslow

Rockets guard Eric Gordon hopes a weight-loss program over the hiatus will help him overcome the knee issues that have slowed him this season, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic. A team source tells Iko that Gordon has managed to drop 12 pounds through diet changes and track sprints.

“I think Eric Gordon’s a big key for us,” coach Mike D’Antoni said recently. “He has the potential to put us over the top.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets have been preparing to face the Nuggets in the opening round of the playoffs, Iko adds in the same piece. That would be the pairing if the league goes straight to the postseason and uses its traditional formula. If conferences are set aside and the teams are seeded 1-16, Houston would face the Jazz in the first round, which Iko believes is a more favorable matchup.
  • William Guillory and Danny Leroux of The Athletic discuss whether the Pelicans should give rookie scale extensions to Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart. Leroux recommends offering Ball a deal starting in the $13-$15MM range with the willingness to match a larger offer when he becomes a restricted free agent in 2021. Leroux believes there’s more urgency to get a deal done with Hart because his value may rise by next year and suggests that he might get something in the range of the four-year, $52MM contract that the Celtics gave Marcus Smart. Looking at other New Orleans free agents, Leroux expects the team to try to re-sign Kenrich Williams, while Jahlil Okafor will probably be let go. Frank Jackson is a tougher call that depends on whether the front office believes he will become a rotation player.
  • Justise Winslow discusses the hiatus with Evan Barnes of The Commercial Appeal, including a plan to adopt a full vegan diet after his 25th birthday next March. Winslow is still waiting to make his debut with the Grizzlies, as a back injury kept him out of action after being traded in February. “I’ve just been waiting to put on that jersey,” Winslow said. “I’ve been grinding, but I miss the team. There’s just something special about this team.”

Pelicans Notes: Facility, Gentry, Zion, K. Williams

As we relayed earlier today, the Pelicans have joined the growing list of NBA teams that have reopened their practice facilities.

Addressing that subject on a call with reporters this afternoon, head of basketball operations David Griffin said that only seven of the club’s players are still in the area and will use the facility — the rest of the Pelicans are finding other ways to work out (Twitter link via Andrew Lopez of ESPN).

Griffin added that he’s not asking players who are out of market to travel back to New Orleans at this time, since he would rather wait until it’s safer and more necessary, according to Lopez.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • Alvin Gentry, 65, falls in an age bracket at risk of being seriously affected by COVID-19. However, the Pelicans’ head coach tells Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter links) that that increased vulnerability will “not stop me from doing my job one bit” when play resumes. “I’m going to approach it with caution,” Gentry said. “But I will be immersed in it totally from a competitive standpoint and everything else.”
  • Speaking today to reporters, Griffin admitted he’d embrace the idea of starting the NBA season later, since it would help the Pelicans gain more of a foothold in their market (Twitter link via Lopez). The NFL’s Saints are New Orleans’ most popular professional sports team, so reducing the NBA’s overlap with the football season could be good news for the Pels.
  • Even before the Pelicans reopened their facility today for individual workouts, a couple of players had been permitted in the building for rehab purposes. According to Griffin, Zion Williamson and Kenrich Williams were getting regular treatment there over the last several weeks (Twitter links via William Guillory of The Athletic). Williams, sidelined since January 6 due to a back injury, will be ready to practice in full when teams reconvene, says Griffin.
  • Guillory and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic examine what the Pelicans got right – and wrong – in the 2019 draft, which saw the team select three players besides Williamson.

Injury Notes: Dedmon, Simmons, Powell, Williams

New Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon underwent a non-surgical procedure to address pain in his right elbow today, as Chris Kirschner of The Athletic relays (via Twitter). Atlanta has ruled out Dedmon for its next three games, but he’ll be re-evaluated on Monday, with his status updated at that point, Kirschner adds.

The Hawks are also without another newly-acquired center, Clint Capela, who continues to deal with a foot issue. However, the club has no shortage of options in the middle. With Dedmon and Capela sidelined, Atlanta figures to take a longer look at Damian Jones and Bruno Fernando.

Here are a few more injury-related updates from around the NBA:

  • The Sixers haven’t provided many details or a specific recovery timeline for Ben Simmons‘ back injury, so Rich Hofmann of The Athletic spoke to a pair of outside medical experts to try to get a sense of what may be causing the nerve impingement in Simmons’ back. Both doctors suggested that the most common cause would be a disc injury.
  • Raptors swingman Norman Powell (finger) has been cleared to practice and will be listed as questionable for Friday’s game vs. Charlotte, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. Head coach Nick Nurse had said on Tuesday that Powell was scheduled for a check-up next week, but it sounds like the 26-year-old could make it back this weekend.
  • Appearing today on Toucher and Rich in Boston, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said big man Robert Williams (hip) remains on track to return to action as early as this weekend, or shortly thereafter (Twitter link via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston).
  • Pelicans forward Kenrich Williams, who hasn’t played since January 6 due to a back injury, had his first full-contact practice today and has a chance to play on Friday, per head coach Alvin Gentry (Twitter link via ESPN’s Andrew Lopez).