Lance Thomas

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Tatum, Nets, Thomas, Knicks, Kidd

Sixers center Joel Embiid and guard Shake Milton are among those who have expressed some reservations about the NBA’s restart plan, though both players will participate this summer, writes Derek Bodner of The Athletic. Embiid’s concerns stem from a suspicion that not all of his fellow players will follow the restrictions and protocols put in place by the league.

“There’s some guys that like to go out, there’s some guys that like to do stuff, there’s some guys that like adventure,” Embiid said. “I know myself. I know I’m not gonna put everybody else at risk. But the question is, is everybody else gonna do the same? Just being around this business, I surely don’t think so.”

Milton, meanwhile, was less concerned about the health and safety guidelines in place than about his belief that the resumption of the NBA might draw attention away from the ongoing fight for social justice reforms.

“I don’t really think we should be playing,” Milton said, per Bodner. “I feel like… there’s an issue going on right now in the world that is way bigger than the sport, way bigger than the game of basketball, and I feel like we’re on the cusp of finally having people tune in and really try to listen and try to understand more about the things that are happening in our country. I feel like the moment is too big right now, and I don’t want the game of basketball to overshadow it.”

Despite their apprehensions, both Embiid and Milton stressed they’re committed to helping the 76ers compete for a championship in Orlando this summer.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Celtics forward Jayson Tatum isn’t overly enthusiastic about restarting the season at the Walt Disney World campus and only recently finalized his decision to play, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “There’s a multitude of reasons why I wasn’t comfortable,” Tatum said. “… (I’m) still not excited about it, not thrilled. Obviously, what we’re fighting for (in society), against racism and social injustice and (for) equality. Obviously the virus is still very well and alive and continues to rise in Florida. For me, just being away from my son for two or three months, that’s what’s really bothering me. … Especially when they’re that young — their growth, they change every week. Just knowing I’m going to miss out on that.”
  • Veteran forward Lance Thomas, who was with the Nets last fall, is among the veteran free agents receiving interest from the team, league sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link). Brooklyn is eligible to sign three substitute players to replace DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Taurean Prince, who all contracted COVID-19. The club is also said to be eyeing Amir Johnson.
  • Marc Berman of The New York Post explores Jason Kidd‘s candidacy for the Knicks‘ head coaching vacancy, noting that some insiders believe he’s the best “long-shot threat” to presumed frontrunner Tom Thibodeau. However, opinions on Kidd are mixed. “I wouldn’t hire Jason Kidd if he was the last coach standing,” one NBA source (who has worked with Kidd) told Berman. “It would be a terrible choice. There’s a reason Milwaukee is in the place where they are right now — coaching.”

Nets Waive Lance Thomas, Three Others

The Nets have released all four of their players on non-guaranteed salaries, announcing tonight in a press release that they’ve requested waivers on forward Lance Thomas and guards Devin Cannady, C.J. Massinburg and C.J. Williams.

All four moves were expected, since Brooklyn already has 15 players on guaranteed salaries. While Wilson Chandler is set to serve a 25-game PED suspension to start the season, he can’t be formally moved to the suspended list until after the fifth game of that ban. At that point, the Nets will be able to add a 16th man to their roster until Chandler’s suspension ends.

It seems safe to assume that Thomas will be a candidate to rejoin the club at that point, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link). The veteran forward has significantly more NBA experience than the other Nets players cut today, having logged 392 career regular season appearances with New Orleans, Oklahoma City, and New York.

Although the Nets’ 15-man roster is full, the team does still have an open two-way contract slot. It’s not clear if Brooklyn is still considering Cannady, Massinburg, or Williams to fill that opening after they clear waivers. Cannady and Massinburg seem more likely to become affiliate players for the Long Island Nets, Brooklyn’s G League squad.

Knicks Notes: Fizdale, Point Guards, Wooten, L. Thomas

The short-term deals the Knicks handed out after missing their top targets in free agency could lead to another disastrous season in New York, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Once the elite free agents were all off the board, the Knicks’ front office signed six players in a 24-hour span, mostly to one-year contracts. Coach David Fizdale has nine new players on his roster, creating a challenging environment to keep everyone invested in the team.

“The worry is chemistry issues and clashing as well as a rotation that will be tough to keep all happy,’’ a rival executive told Berman. “It could turn into every-man-for-himself – self preservation on full display.’’

The Knicks’ best hope to improve lies in their young core, Berman adds. Newly signed Julius Randle, who committed for three years at $63MM, is only 24, while Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Dennis Smith Jr. and rookie RJ Barrett all have the potential to improve. But if none of them can make the leap this year and Kristaps Porzingis revives his career in Dallas, Berman speculates that another front office shakeup could be on the way.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • The starting point guard job is wide open again this year, Berman notes in a separate story. Smith will compete with Frank Ntilikina and newly signed Elfrid Payton in what Berman calls the best position battle in camp. The Knicks seemed to make a commitment to Smith after acquiring him in the Porzingis deal, but may have signaled a new direction by giving $8MM to Payton.
  • Kenny Wooten will be among the most intriguing players to watch in camp, Berman adds. All 15 roster spots appear set, but New York has an open two-way slot that Wooten will have a chance to claim. He is an athletic shot-blocker on an Exhibit 10 deal who could set himself up for a standard contract down the line.
  • Lance Thomas has moved across town to the Nets, but he would have been happy to remain a Knick, relays Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. “It was a dream come true for me,” Thomas said. “My family is Knicks fans their whole lives. The opportunity I had to wear that uniform, to play in an arena of that magnitude — I had goosebumps every day I wore that uniform.”

Nets Sign Lance Thomas

Veteran forward Lance Thomas has made the move from one New York team to the other, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News, who tweets that the former Knick has signed with the Nets. The team has since confirmed the move in a press release, after a handful of reports this week cited Thomas as a likely target for Brooklyn.

Thomas, 31, has spent his last four and a half seasons with the Knicks, though he gradually saw his minutes and role reduced over that time. In 2018/19, he averaged 4.5 PPG and 2.5 RPG in just 17.0 minutes per contest (46 games). At this point in his career, Thomas’ veteran leadership and locker-room presence may be just as valuable as his on-court contributions.

With Thomas under contract, the Nets are now carrying a full 20-man roster. That doesn’t include 2019 second-round pick Jaylen Hands, who remains unsigned. It’s not clear what Brooklyn’s plans are for the former UCLA guard. Brooklyn’s 20-man squad also doesn’t include Carmelo Anthony, who was frequently linked to the team within the last month.

The Nets have 15 players with guaranteed salaries, so there’s no clear path for Thomas to earn a roster spot to start the regular season. However, the club will be able to add a 16th man to its roster after five regular season contests, when Wilson Chandler becomes eligible for the suspended list. Chandler is serving a 25-game ban, so Brooklyn will have a 20-game window to carry that extra player.

Atlantic Notes: Thomas, Tatum, Simmons, Dinwiddie

According to Ian Begley of SNY.tv, discussions between the Nets and veteran forward Lance Thomas have centered around Thomas having a regular season roster spot.

The Nets have 15 players on guaranteed deals and can add an extra player to their roster during the last 20 games of Wilson Chandler‘s 25-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. When that suspension is over, however, the Nets would have to waive Thomas or someone else to get back to 15 players.

Begley adds that Thomas has a good relationship with Kevin Durant from their days together in Oklahoma City, so that will only help Thomas’ chances of staying on with the Nets should he be signed.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Celtics head coach Brad Stevens says that Jayson Tatum is ready to go for the opening of camp next Tuesday, telling Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald that Tatum is “fine” after suffering an ankle sprain while playing for the U.S. national team. “He’s ready to go from what I’ve been told… I don’t know if he will do anything 5-on-5 this week, but we anticipate no issues when camp starts next week. At least, that’s the latest that I got.”
  • The Sixers have officially announced several new hires and promotions for the 2019/20 season, including the addition of former NBA big man Roy Hibbert as the team’s new player development specialist, which was reported back in August.
  • Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons tells Rob Maaddi of the Associated Press that he found his love of the game again this summer. “I kind of got back to who I was and having fun with the game. I felt like the past season I lost that enjoyment side of it but I feel like this summer has been huge for me. Just the work I’ve been putting in, I kinda fell in love with putting that work in again and I’ve been in the gym every day working and the results have been paying off so I’m excited for the season to start.”
  • Shams Charania of The Athletic sat down with Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie to get some more details on how the 26-year-old is turning his contract into a digital investment vehicle.

Nets Sign Williams, Egbunu; May Add Thomas

2:53pm: The Nets’ deal with Williams is now official, the team confirmed in a press release. The club also announced that it has signed former Florida center John Egbunu, whose deal was first reported by Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter link). Egbunu looks like a candidate to ultimately land with the Long Island Nets in the G League.

Brooklyn now has 19 players officially under contract.

2:45pm: Former Clippers and Timberwolves shooting guard C.J. Williams has reached an agreement to sign with the Nets, league sources tell Nicola Lupo of Sportando. Confirming the deal, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets that Williams will receive a non-guaranteed contract.

Williams, 29, made his NBA debut with the Clippers in 2017/18, then spent last season on a two-way contract with Minnesota. In total, he has appeared in 53 regular season contests, averaging 4.7 PPG on .448/.287/.765 shooting in 15.8 minutes per game.

Charania first identified Williams earlier this week as a candidate to sign with the Nets, who are looking to fill out their 20-man roster. In that report, Charania noted that Lance Thomas is in the mix to join Brooklyn’s roster too, and that idea appears to be gaining steam.

Marc Berman of The New York Post hears from a league source that the Nets are “seriously eyeing” Thomas, while Greg Logan of Newsday confirms (via Twitter) that the veteran forward has worked out for the team. According to Charania, Brooklyn is making progress on a deal to sign Thomas.

Currently, the Nets have 17 players under contract, so if they make it official with Williams and sign Thomas as well, they’d have just one opening left on their 20-man offseason roster. It remains to be seen whether the team intends to bring unsigned second-round pick Jaylen Hands to camp.

Although Williams is unlikely to earn a spot on the Nets’ regular season roster, since the club has 15 players with fully guaranteed salaries, he or another camp invitee could be re-signed five games into the regular season. At that point, Brooklyn will be able to open up an extra roster spot by moving Wilson Chandler to the suspended list for the next 20 games.

Charania’s Latest: Nets, Heat, CP3, Noah, Clippers

Despite the fact that multiple Nets players are reportedly pushing for the team to sign Carmelo Anthony, Brooklyn appears very unlikely to do so at this point, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic.

According to Charania, the Nets are more likely to fill their 20-man offseason roster they’ve worked out in recent weeks, including perhaps veteran forward Lance Thomas and swingman C.J. Williams. Dante Cunningham and Luol Deng are among the other free agents who have emerged as viable targets for Brooklyn, Charania adds.

With Wilson Chandler facing a 25-game suspension, the Nets could theoretically move on from the former Nugget to open up a spot on their 15-man regular season roster, but they currently have no plans to do so. As Charania points out, keeping Chandler on the suspended list during his 25-game ban will allow the franchise to recoup some of his salary. Plus, team executives believe Chandler would be quickly scooped up by another team if he were released later in the season.

Here are a few more items of interest from Charania’s latest round-up:

  • The Heat still have some level of trade interest in Thunder point guard Chris Paul, according to Charania. Miami is expected to wait to see how the start of the season goes before seriously considering whether to renew its pursuit of CP3, who would reciprocate the Heat’s interest.
  • Free agent big man Joakim Noah intends to join the Clippers for workouts this week, sources tell Charania. Noah’s father first suggested earlier this month that his son would be working out for the Clippers.
  • Nuggets guard Malik Beasley, who is eligible for a rookie scale extension up until October 21, has hired Rich Paul and Lucas Newton of Klutch Sports for representation, says Charania.
  • Although DeMarcus Cousins is only a one-year contract and seems likely to miss the entire 2019/20 season due to his torn ACL, the Lakers aren’t ready to move on from him yet. The Lakers wants to integrate him into the club’s culture, according to Charania, who notes that Cousins is expected to be around the team during its mini-camp in Las Vegas this week.

Free Agent Rumors: Mavs, Morris, Knicks, Wizards, Wolves

The Mavericks have interest in free agent forward Marcus Morris, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News, confirming a report from Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com (Twitter link). However, Dallas has “a few [players] ahead” of Morris on their wish list, according to Townsend.

Danny Green is one of those names believed to be ahead of Morris. The Mavericks have been linked to the veteran sharpshooter since the start of free agency, and a tweet from the account for Green’s podcast today listed the Mavs, Raptors, and Lakers as the teams still in play for the veteran shooting guard. The Mavs aren’t expecting an answer from Green until tomorrow at the earliest though, says Townsend.

Here’s more on the NBA’s remaining free agents:

  • The Knicks project to have one slot open on their 15-man roster for next season, and Lance Thomas is the favorite to fill it, a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post (Twitter link). New York recently waived Thomas to avoid guaranteeing his 2019/20 salary, but could bring him back on a more modest deal.
  • The Wizards haven’t circled back to free agent forward Jabari Parker so far, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link), who says that the market is “still developing” for the former No. 2 overall pick.
  • The Timberwolves have kicked the tires on free agent forward Jake Layman, tweets Darren Wolfson of SKOR North. Layman received a qualifying offer from the Trail Blazers, so he’s a restricted free agent.

Knicks Waive Lance Thomas

JUNE 29: As expected, the Knicks have waived Thomas, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

JUNE 14: The Knicks plan on waiving forward Lance Thomas, though they have interest in re-signing him, Ian Begley of SNY TV reports.

Thomas has a non-guaranteed contract of $7.58MM for next season and would receive $1MM if he’s on the roster through June 30. Thomas’ salary is the largest on the Knicks’ ledger. Waiving him would give them even more cap space to pursue free agents and blockbuster trades.

However, the club appreciates Thomas for his leadership and willingness to mentor younger players, according to Begley, so it would try to re-sign him at a reduced rate. With the team intend on giving its younger players experience, Thomas appeared in just 46 games this past season. He averaged 4.5 PPG and 2.5 RPG in 17.0 MPG.

He has been in the Knicks organization since the 2014/15 season after starting his career in New Orleans in 2011. Thomas, 31, also appeared in 22 games with Oklahoma City before joining the Knicks. He’s entering the final year of a four-year, $27.5MM contract, which he signed in 2016.

Knicks Notes: Roster, Robinson, Durant, Ewing

Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and Damyean Dotson are the only current Knicks who should definitely be on the roster next season, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Knox showed enough promise at age 19 to hold onto, Robinson was a second-round surprise who became the league’s second-best shot blocker and Dotson is a part-time starter with an affordable contract.

Popper lists Dennis Smith Jr., who was acquired in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, as a question mark, noting that his fate could depend on whether the Knicks are in position to draft Ja Morant or sign Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker in free agency. Also questionable to return, according to Popper, are Frank Ntilikina, Allonzo Trier, Lance Thomas and Luke Kornet. Popper expects the rest of the roster to be overturned, including DeAndre Jordan, whom he speculates will be too pricey to re-sign as a back-up center.

There’s more today from New York:

  • Coach David Fizdale believes Robinson would be a lottery pick if last year’s draft were redone, relays Chris Iseman of NorthJersey.com. Fizdale admits he didn’t know much about Robinson when the Knicks grabbed him with the 36th pick, but he quickly blossomed into a force in the middle, swatting 2.44 shots per game. “I think we can all agree if we had to restructure the draft right now, I don’t think he’ll go 36,” Fizdale said. “I think he’d be in that top 10 pretty easily.”
  • LeBron James‘ disappointing first year with the Lakers should make Kevin Durant think twice about whether he wants join the Knicks, states Frank Isola of The Athletic. For all of Durant’s talent, he has a reputation as a highly sensitive player who might not adjust well to the atmosphere in New York. Isola suggests that he will only consider the Knicks if he can find another top-level free agent to join him.
  • Fizdale played a pivotal role in easing tensions between Patrick Ewing and the Knicks after years of a strained relationship, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Ewing will represent the team at next month’s draft lottery.