Kyle Wiltjer

2019 NBA G League Expansion Draft Results

The NBA G League conducted its 2019 expansion draft on Wednesday, allowing the latest iteration of the Erie BayHawks to acquire the rights to up to 14 players.

Erie has been a G League mainstay in recent years. However, after serving as the affiliate for the Atlanta Hawks last season, the BayHawks were relocated to College Park and renamed the Skyhawks. As such, the Erie BayHawks team that participated in today’s expansion draft is technically a new G League franchise — it’ll be the affiliate for the Pelicans in 2019/20.

[RELATED: NBA G League Affiliations For 2019/20 Season]

As Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days recently outlined, each of the G League’s other 27 teams were permitted to protect the rights for up to 12 players. Although the BayHawks could select up to 14 players in the expansion draft, they weren’t permitted to acquire more than two players from any one team.

Here are the 14 players whose rights were acquired by New Orleans’ G League affiliate, with each player’s previous NBAGL team noted in parentheses:

  1. Taylor Braun (South Bay Lakers)
  2. Trey Burke (Westchester Knicks)
  3. Quinton Chievous (Capital City Go-Go)
  4. Xavier Gibson (Sioux Falls Skyforce)
  5. Isaac Hamilton (Canton Charge)
  6. Isaiah Hartenstein (Grande Valley Vipers)
  7. Derrick Jones Jr. (Northern Arizona Suns)
  8. Scottie Lindsey (Grand Rapids Drive)
  9. Erik McCree (Lakeland Magic)
  10. Codi Miller-McIntyre (College Park Skyhawks)
  11. Xavier Silas (Iowa Wolves)
  12. Matt Williams Jr. (Grand Rapids Drive)
  13. Kyle Wiltjer (Canton Charge)
  14. Michael Young (Northern Arizona Suns)

Not all of the players whose rights the BayHawks acquired today will actually suit up for the team. In fact, many won’t.

Multiple players selected by Erie – Burke, Hartenstein, and Jones – are currently under contract with NBA teams and won’t be available to the BayHawks as long as they remain on those NBA deals. Other players will spend the 2019/20 season playing overseas.

However, if any of the players selected in today’s expansion draft sign contracts to play in the G League in ’19/20, the BayHawks will have their rights. Erie will hold each of these 14 players’ NBAGL rights for the next two seasons.

G League Notes: Moreland, Select Contracts, Harrison, Draft

Several NBA teams secured returning rights for players who were in camp with them but failed to make the 15-man roster. Raptors 905 acquired center Eric Moreland from the Canton Charge, Cleveland’s affiliate, for forward Kyle Wiltjer, according to a G League release. The Raptors waived Moreland a week ago. Raptors 905 pulled off a similar deal with the Texas Legends, the Mavericks’ affiliate, to acquire guard Kyle Collinsworth, who was waived at the same time as Moreland. Texas acquired the returning player rights to forwards C.J. Leslie and Kennedy Meeks, according to a G League release. The Delaware Blue Coats, the 76ers’ affiliate, gained the returning player rights of forward Cory Jefferson in a three-team swap with the Agua Caliente Clippers and the Legends, according to another G League post. The Sixers waived Jefferson on October 13th.

We have more from the G League:

  • The league is putting together a “working group” that will determine which players are eligible for select contracts, G League president Malcolm Turner said in a Q&A session posting on the league’s website. “That group will be charged with identifying appropriate, eligible, elite talent, not only in terms of on-court performance and potential, but also in terms overall readiness for the G League. In addition to identification, that working group will really help us monitor the rollout and execution of this professional path … that working group will be charged with developing its own framework and lens for eligible players.” Beginning next year, the G League will offer “select contracts” worth $125K to top prospects who are at least 18 years old but aren’t yet eligible for the NBA draft.
  • Numerous NBA and G league executives, coaches, agents and players feel the select contract concept is intriguing, but there is widespread skepticism how much appeal the program will have to top-level prospects and how it will be implemented. Sam Vecenie of The Athletic takes a deep dive into the topic in a lengthy analysis piece.
  • The Arizona Suns traded away the returning player rights of Shaquille Harrison to the Memphis Hustle in a deal involving four players and a draft pick, according to another G League release. Harrison was the odd man out in the Suns’ point guard competition, as he was waived early this week. It was still somewhat surprising they traded away his rights. The Grizzlies gave themselves a little extra depth at the G League level as protection against another Mike Conley injury.
  • NBA veterans such as Willie Reed, Hakim Warrick, DeJuan Blair, and Arnett Moultrie could be among the higher selections in the annual G League draft, which takes place on Saturday, Adam Johnson of 2Ways10Days.com reports. The Salt Lake City Stars own the top pick.

And-Ones: G League, Draft Lottery, Wiltjer, Davis

The NBA G League season will tip off on Friday night, with a record-setting 26 teams set to compete this year. While that still leaves a handful of NBA clubs without affiliates of their own, G League president Malcolm Turner tells Sam Amick of USA Today that he’s confident the number of teams in the league will increase to 30 within the next couple years.

“It’s not out of the question that we may find ourselves launching another four teams for [the 2018/19 season] to get us to 30. But I think the realistic timeframe is ’19/20,” Turner said. “Washington is already confirmed for ’18/19. It’s been well reported that New Orleans, where they stand in the process. We expect they will announce within the next month or two, and Portland and Denver are also well down the road in the process of doing it as well, and so we’re excited about that.”

Turner is also encouraged by the fact that the average distance between NBA teams and their affiliates has come down significantly in recent years, allowing franchises to make better use of those affiliates. According to Turner, as recently as five years ago, the average distance between an NBA team and its G League affiliate was about 550 miles — now it’s approximately 120 miles.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Rather than holding the 2018 draft lottery in New York next spring, the NBA will have the event take place in Chicago on May 15, followed by the combine – also in Chicago – from May 16-20, the league announced on Thursday.
  • Within his latest article for ESPN.com, Zach Lowe wonders if the Magic could be a viable landing spot for Eric Bledsoe, and takes a look at how the Kings‘ veteran free agent acquisitions have underachieved so far.
  • Former Rockets forward Kyle Wiltjer signed a one-year deal this week to play with Olympiacos in Greece, as Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops.net details. Wiltjer was in camp with the Raptors this fall and was set to play for Toronto’s G League team before deciding to head overseas instead.
  • Veteran big man Glen Davis, who recently signed a G League contract, wasn’t claimed by a team on waivers and will now enter the available player pool, a source tells Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link). G League teams set their opening-night rosters this week and likely aren’t looking to make changes right away, so Davis may have to be patient as he waits for an opportunity.

Raptors Make Roster Cuts

The Raptors have waived Kennedy Meeks, Andy Rautins, and Kyle Wiltjer, according to a team press release. Toronto’s roster now sits at 17.

Meeks went undrafted out of the University of North Carolina and signed a partially guaranteed deal with the franchise this summer. He was only able to make one preseason appearance for the club before the team waived him.

Rautins and Wiltjer each made three preseason appearances for the Raptors. Rautins was never expected to make the opening night roster, while Wiltjer was in a better position to earn a spot.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Simmons, Carroll

The Raptors have four players on non-guaranteed deals effectively auditioning for the final two guaranteed slots on their roster, Josh Lewenberg of TSN writes. Given the number of veterans the team lost over the offseason, the individuals who end up in the 14th and 15th spots on the squad could actually see meaningful minutes in 2017/18.

Among those battling for one of the final openings on the lone Canadian team’s roster is Canadian national team forward Kyle Wiltjer. Wiltjer didn’t make much of an impact on the playoff-bound Rockets last season but serves as a potent deep ball threat, not unlike outgoing Raptors forward Patrick Patterson.

Wiltjer will face stiff competition making the Raptors, especially from the versatile K.J. McDaniels who failed to stick with the Nets last season but has otherwise shown promise as an incredibly versatile, Swiss army knife of a forward.

Also vying for the final two spots will be Kennedy Meeks and Alfonzo McKinnie, the latter of whom Lewenberg mentions along with McDaniels to be the ones to watch as training camp begins and the Raptors inch closer to finalizing their roster.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

Raptors Sign Kyle Wiltjer

2:37pm: The Raptors have officially signed Wiltjer, the team announced today. His deal will include a partial guarantee, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN (Twitter link).

9:10am: A month after being waived by the Clippers, Kyle Wiltjer has landed with a new team, according to Oliver Maroney and Robby Kalland of Dime, who report that the free agent forward has agreed to a one-year contract with the Raptors. It’ll be a non-guaranteed training camp deal.

“I’m just really excited to be back in Toronto and Canada,” Wiltjer said, per Maroney and Kalland. “I’ve been working really hard all summer long to get better in all facets of my game and I’m just happy that I’ll be in my home nation.”

Wiltjer, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada, spent his rookie season with the Rockets in 2016/17, though he appeared in just 14 games for the club, playing very limited minutes. The 6’10” forward saw more action in the G League, averaging 20.5 PPG and 6.4 RPG with a .377 3PT% in 22 contests for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

Because his contract with Houston included a non-guaranteed salary for 2017/18, Wiltjer was one of the pieces included in the Rockets’ Chris Paul deal for salary-matching purposes. The Clippers subsequently waived Wiltjer last month before his contract became guaranteed.

As our breakdown of offseason roster counts shows, the Raptors only have 13 guaranteed contracts on their roster at this point, so Wiltjer should have a chance to compete for one of those last two regular-season roster slots. He’ll battle the likes of Kennedy Meeks and Alfonzo McKinnie as he looks to earn a spot on Toronto’s 15-man squad.

Clippers Waive Kyle Wiltjer

The Clippers have waived Kyle Wiltjer, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link). The power forward was traded to Los Angeles in the deal that sent Chris Paul to Houston.

The 24-year-old spent most of his 2016/17 campaign playing for the Rockets’ G-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He was able to see some NBA action last year. He played in 14 games for Houston where he scored a total of 13 points.

Wiltjer played four seasons in the collegiate ranks, spending two seasons at Kentucky before transferring to Gonzaga. He entered the 2016 draft but was not selected.

Clippers Trade Chris Paul To Rockets

Reversing his decision to head to the free agent market, Chris Paul has opted into the final year of his contract as part of a trade. The Clippers have sent Paul to the Rockets in exchange for a massive trade package, Houston confirmed today in a press release. The Clippers will receive the following pieces in the deal:Chris Paul vertical

“Since winning back-to-back championships, the pursuit of a third title has remained the ultimate goal for our franchise,” Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said in a statement. “We feel that combining two of the league’s greatest players in James Harden and Chris Paul, operating in Coach [Mike] D’Antoni’s system, gives us a championship caliber team that will compete at the highest level for years to come.”

The move is a bombshell, particularly since Paul had been expected to reach free agency this weekend — a report last week indicated that he had made the decision to opt out of his contract. However, CP3 had yet to formally file the paperwork to exercise that early termination option. Instead, he’ll waive the ETO, which will allow him to play out the final year of his deal and become eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2018, unless he signs an extension with Houston before next July. Paul is currently set to earn $24,268,959 in 2017/18.

According to Wojnarowski, the Clippers and Rockets reached an agreement after Paul informed L.A. that he intended to sign with Houston in free agency. From the Clippers’ perspective, the trade with Houston is a way to recoup some value for the star point guard and avoid losing him for nothing. Meanwhile, the Rockets will no longer have to worry about trying to dump a salary or two in order to create enough room for a maximum salary slot for Paul.

The Rockets, who were reported on Tuesday to be a “serious” threat in the Paul sweepstakes, have now secured their man before the free agent period even gets underway. The club’s star-studded backcourt will create an intriguing dynamic, since Harden is coming off an MVP-caliber season in which he served as Houston’s primary ball-handler. According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Paul and Harden were “determined” to play together, so the duo is presumably unconcerned about how the ball-handling duties will be shared going forward.

It will be interesting to see if Rockets president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has anything else up his sleeve for the team in July. According to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, the club is still on the lookout for a third star to complement Paul and Harden. Houston was reportedly involved in Paul George trade talks, though the club surrendered some valuable assets in today’s move, so it’s not clear whether Morey still has enough pieces to interest the Pacers.

With Paul now headed to Houston, the Spurs – who were rumored to be a contender for Paul – will have to look elsewhere if they intend to sign a marquee free agent point guard. Teams around the NBA hoping to re-sign their own star point guards, such as the Pelicans (Jrue Holiday) and Raptors (Kyle Lowry), may also be breathing a little easier, since the Rockets were viewed as a team capable of shaking up the point guard market.

As for the Clippers, it’s not clear yet if today’s deal will be the first domino to fall in a full-fledged rebuilding process for the club, or merely a retooling of the roster. In Beverley and Williams, the Clips will acquire a pair of effective and affordable veteran guards who figure to step into key roles right away. Dekker is more of a wild card, but the 23-year-old big man flashed some upside in a rotational role for the Rockets last season, as did Harrell.

Paul’s departure also figures to be a factor in Blake Griffin‘s impending free agency. Unlike Paul, Griffin has formally exercised his ETO with the Clippers, so he’s on track to become an unrestricted free agent on Saturday. Given the reported tension between Paul and Griffin over the years, it’s possible that the trade of CP3 makes Griffin more likely to re-sign — Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net (Twitter link) spoke to several league executives who speculated as much.

[RELATED: Clippers confident about re-signing Blake Griffin]

Because the combined salaries of Beverley, Dekker, and Williams – the package reported initially for the Clippers – weren’t enough for the Rockets to land Paul, Houston spent most of the day acquiring players with non-guaranteed salaries from other teams to include in the deal. Liggins and Hilliard will be flipped to the Clippers, but Tim Quarterman, Shawn Long, and Ryan Kelly, who were all traded to Houston earlier today, won’t be part of this transactions — Houston instead included Harrell and Wiltjer.

I explained the math from the Rockets’ perspective earlier today. By structuring the deal as they did, the Rockets will remain over the cap and will have the mid-level exception ($8.4MM) and bi-annual exception ($3.3MM) available to pursue free agents when the new league year begins.

The Clippers waived retiring forward Paul Pierce in order to adhere to the NBA’s offseason roster limit of 20 players.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter links) broke news of the trade. Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle and Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times were among those who reported key details along the way.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 4/16/17

Here are Sunday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Celtics are in action in the first round of the NBA playoffs tonight, but Demetrius Jackson and Jordan Mickey aren’t with them, having been assigned to the Maine Red Claws, per the team (Twitter link). Jackson and Mickey are playing in Maine’s game against the Raptors 905 today in the D-League postseason.
  • The Rockets have assigned Chinanu Onuaku, Isaiah Taylor, and Kyle Wiltjer to the D-League, the team announced today (Twitter link). Like Boston, Houston has both its NBA team and its D-League affiliate playing postseason games today, so Onuaku, Taylor, and Wiltjer will suit up for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers rather than the Rockets.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 4/14/17

Here are Friday’s assignments/recalls from around the league…

  • The Raptors assigned Bruno Caboclo and Pascal Siakam to Raptors 905, the team announced via Twitter (link). Caboclo and Siakam should pick up steady minutes for Raptors 905, as they take on the Maine Red Claws in the D-League Eastern Conference finals.
  • The Rockets recalled Chinanu Onuaku, Isaiah Taylor, and Kyle Wiltjer from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the team announced via Twitter (link). All three players received 35+ minutes in Rio Grande’s Game 1 loss to the Blue on Thursday.
  • The Thunder recalled Josh Huestis from Oklahoma City Blue, the team announced in a press release. Huestis scored 11 points over 29 minutes with the Blue in the D-League playoffs last night.