Le'Bryan Nash

Rockets Waive Brandan Wright, Sign Le’Bryan Nash

MARCH 24: The NBA’s official transactions log indicates that both moves are now official. The league’s site classifies Nash’s new deal as a 10-day contract.

MARCH 23: Brandan Wright‘s time in Houston will be coming to an early end, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle, who reports that the Rockets are waiving the veteran. The team will sign forward Le’Bryan Nash to fill the newly-opened roster spot, Feigen adds.

Wright, 30, received a buyout from the Grizzlies after last month’s trade deadline and quickly reached an agreement to join the Rockets. While the versatile big man was viewed as a good fit for Houston, he only appeared in one game for the club before being shut down due to right knee soreness. Wright underwent a minor procedure to address that issue and will continue to work on his rehab with the Rockets’ medical staff even after being waived, a source tells Feigen.

It sounds like Wright won’t be healthy enough this season to return to the court for the postseason anyway, but even if he were to make a quick recovery, he wouldn’t be playoff-eligible for a new team, since he’s being waived after March 1.

As for Nash, the former Oklahoma State standout played in South Korea this season after spending 2016/17 with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Houston’s G League affiliate. I would expect him to be assigned to the Vipers again for the NBAGL playoffs once he officially signs with the Rockets.

It’s also worth noting, as Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report recently observed, that signing a player like Nash to a multiyear, minimum salary deal could help the Rockets accommodate another summer trade like the one they made a year ago for Chris Paul, but that’s merely hypothetical for now.

Rockets Waive Gary Payton II, P.J. Hairston

The Rockets are trimming their roster to 15 players in advance of today’s cutdown deadline, and have made three moves so far, according to various reports. Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle tweets that the team has waived rookie guard Gary Payton II, while Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News tweets that camp invitees P.J. Hairston and Le’Bryan Nash have also been cut.

Hairston and Nash are likely ticketed for the Rockets’ D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, having been on non-guaranteed contracts. Payton could also ultimately land in Rio Grande, but his case isn’t quite as clear, since he had been on a guaranteed salary for 2016/17, giving him a little more flexibility for his next move.

With Payton, Hairston, and Nash out of the mix for a roster spots, the Rockets are now carrying 16 players, and will need to make one more cut. Tyler Ennis, recently acquired in a trade with Milwaukee, is probably safe, which would leave Bobby Brown and Kyle Wiltjer battling for the 15th and final roster spot. Neither player has a fully guaranteed deal, but Wiltjer received a sizable partial guarantee of $275K from Houston.

The Rockets figure to announce their final cut – and confirm their other moves – in a press release later today.

Rockets To Sign Le’Bryan Nash

The Rockets have signed Le’Bryan Nash, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Nash is expected to play for the team’s D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

Nash was a top-10 recruit coming out of high school and while he did win the Big-12 Freshman of the Year award, he never looked the part of a future NBA star during his four seasons at the Oklahoma State University. The small forward averaged 14.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game as a Cowboy.

He was not selected in the 2015 draft and opted to play overseas in the Basketball Japan League, averaging 26.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.1 assist per game. During the offseason, he played for the Bucks’ summer league team.

Draft Notes: Hornets, Looney, Jazz, Turner

The Hornets will work out Kevon Looney, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter links). The team owns the No. 9 selection in the upcoming draft. Looney’s agents believe his range is anywhere from No. 7 to No. 20, as the UCLA product tells Zach Links of Hoops Rumors. Looney is represented by both Aaron Goodwin of Goodwin Sports Management and Todd Ramasar of Stealth Sports, as our agency database indicates.

Here’s more news on player workouts:

  • The Hornets are also scheduled to work out Jonathan Holmes, Jay Hook, Cady Lalanne, Josh Richardson and LeBryan Nash, as Bonnell reports in the same set of tweets.
  • Myles Turner has worked out for the Jazz, Aaron Falk of Salt Lake Tribune reports (Twitter link).  Falk notes that this was Turner’s first workout with any team. Chad Ford of ESPN.com ranks the Texas product as the ninth best prospect, while Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress ranks him as the 13th. Eddie Scarito of Hoops Rumors has Kelly Oubre Jr. going to the Jazz with the No. 12 selection, but he mentions Turner as a possible alternative.
  • The Jazz will conduct workouts for Will Cummings, Rakeem Christmas, Kelly Oubre Jr., Keifer Sykes, Chris Walker and K.T. Harrell, according to the team’s Twitter feed.
  • Utah will also work out George de Paula, Royce O’Neale, Ousmane Drame, Levi Randolph, Derrick Marks and Jarvis Williams, according to the team’s Twitter feed.

Eastern Notes: Knicks, Wizards, Johnson

The Knicks‘ hope that either Duke big man Jahlil Okafor or Ohio State playmaker D’Angelo Russell will still be on the board when the team picks at No. 4 isn’t likely to pan out, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. According to a league source, the Sixers, who pick third, still have a firm top three of Karl-Anthony Towns, Russell, and Okafor, and Philly won’t let any of that trio slip past them, Berman notes. There is also little chance of New York gambling on Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis, who dazzled scouts during his Friday showcase, the Post scribe adds. “The body’s a long way off so he’s couple of years away from impact,’’ one NBA scout said of Porzingis. “He’s going to look great in a workout but he’s a young European who hasn’t played much. Too much risk at [No.] 4 for the Knicks.’’

Here’s more out of the NBA’s Eastern Conference:

  • The Pistons have workouts scheduled today for Sam Dekker (Wisconsin), Le’Bryan Nash (Oklahoma State), Dustin Hogue (Iowa State), and LaDontae Henton (Providence), the team announced (on Twitter).
  • Working out for the Wizards on Monday will be Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington), Rashad Madden (Arkansas), Jarell Martin (LSU), Bobby Portis (Arkansas), Jordan Sibert (Dayton), and Keifer Sykes (Wisconsin-Green Bay), the team announced.
  • The Knicks‘ scheduled workout for Arizona forward Stanley Johnson, who I recently profiled, was moved from Friday to today, Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com writes. New York has also been trying to bring in Murray State point guard Cameron Payne, who is suddenly a hot commodity, for a showcase, but the two sides have been unable to agree on a date, Begley adds.

Atlantic Notes: Russell, Celtics, Draft

Illness prompted D’Angelo Russell to cancel a workout with the Sixers planned for this weekend, a source close to the combo guard told Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who heard from another source who wouldn’t rule the notion of the workout taking place sometime later. Still, Tim Bontemps of the New York Post (Twitter links) speculates that Russell may have received a promise from the Lakers, a prospect that could have a trickle-down effect that would make Jahlil Okafor available to the Knicks at pick No. 4. That seems far-fetched, particularly since the Lakers have reportedly zeroed in on Okafor for the second pick. Still, plenty is unknown with less than two weeks to go before the draft.

Here’s the latest from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics are having trouble attracting players with lottery aspirations to work out with them in spite of “better than average” odds that Boston trades up from the 16th overall pick, writes Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald. Wisconsin small forward Sam Dekker pulled out of a workout with the C’s last week.
  • Working out for the Raptors this Saturday will be Delon Wright (Utah), Jabril Trawick (Georgetown), Kevon Looney (UCLA), Michale Kyser (Louisiana Tech), Cliff Alexander (Kansas), and Montrezl Harrell (Louisville), the team announced.
  • The Nets have four upcoming workouts scheduled, the team has announced. Monday’s group will be Ryan Boatright (UConn), T.J. McConnell (Arizona), D.J. Newbill (Penn State), Sir’Dominic Pointer (St. John’s), Larry Nance Jr. (Wyoming), and Brandon Ashley (Arizona).
  • Working out for Brooklyn on Tuesday will be Marcus Thornton (William and Mary), Will Cummings (Temple), Tyler Haws (BYU), Julian Washburn (UTEP), Jordan Mickey (LSU), and Yanick Moreira (SMU).
  • Displaying their wares on Wednesday for the Nets will be Mike Caffey (Long Beach State), Ray Parks Jr. (Melrose H.S.), Dez Wells (Maryland), Norman Powell (UCLA), Le’Bryan Nash (Oklahoma State), and Vince Hunter (UTEP).
  • The final batch of players working out for the Nets, which will take place on Thursday, are Travis Trice (Michigan State), Rashad Madden (Arkansas), Michael Qualls (Arizona), Trawick, Richaun Holmes (Bowling Green), and Josh Smith (Georgetown).

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Williams, Nash, Payne

Five second-round picks will give Sixers GM Sam Hinkie a lot of flexibility on draft night, writes Tom Moore of Calkins Media. In addition to the third pick overall, Philadelphia owns picks number 35, 37, 47, 58 and 60. Hinkie also had five second-rounders entering last year’s draft and came out of it with K.J. McDaniels, Jerami Grant, Serbian point guard Vasilije Micic, Jordan McRae, the rights to guard Pierre Jackson and cash considerations. Moore expects the Sixers to be dealing on draft night, possibly trading two of the second-round choices for a late first-rounder. Or they could deal some of them for future picks and a chance to control the second round again next year.

There’s more news from the Atlantic Division:

  • Reports that the Raptors were trying to lure former Pelicans coach Monty Williams to their staff as an assistant were incorrect, tweets Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. He adds that Williams just called the team to recommend another coach, and although nobody is saying who it was, Wolstat notes that former Williams assistant Bryan Gates has a long player development background and coaching success in the D-League (Twitter link). Wolstat also reports that the Celtics refused to allow lead assistant Darren Erman to go to a division rival (Twitter link).
  • Celtics guard Marcus Smart is helping former Oklahoma State teammate Le’Bryan Nash prepare for the draft, according to Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. Nash worked out for Boston earlier this week, and Smart paid a visit to his hotel the night before to help Nash prepare. “I just try to take advice from him, asking him so many questions — how are practices, how are road games — so many questions I think he got tired of me asking him so many questions,” Nash said.
  • Murray State point guard Cameron Payne has a scheduled workout with the Knicks, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. He will also work out for the Lakers.

Atlantic Notes: Russell, Nets, Hollis-Jefferson

D’Angelo Russell doesn’t seem like a strong fit for the triangle, but his game would complement Carmelo Anthony‘s if the Knicks draft him, and the Ohio State combo guard has the tools to become a strong defender, as Ohm Youngmisuk and Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com examine. Here’s more on the Atlantic Division as the June 25th draft draws ever closer:

  • The Nets would like to use cash to buy second-round picks to find draft-and-stash candidates in over the next few years, when they’ll have a sharply limited number of draft picks, in the hopes that one or more of them becomes a rotation piece, as NetsDaily explains. GM Billy King and CEO Brett Yormark hinted recently that they want to again have a one-to-one D-League affiliate, though that’s unlikely for this coming season, as the NetsDaily scribe adds.
  • Small forwards Rondae Hollis-Jefferson of Arizona and Justin Anderson of Virginia highlight today’s Celtics predraft workout, as Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com relays (Twitter link). Jonathan Holmes (Texas), Branden Dawson (Michigan State), LeBryan Nash (Oklahoma State) and Levi Randolph (Alabama) are the other prospects Boston is auditioning today, Forsberg notes.
  • Hollis-Jefferson will also work out for the Raptors this week, reports Kevin Rashidi of Canada.com (Twitter link). UNLV shooting guard Rashad Vaughn, Minnesota center Mo Walker and Stanford center Stefan Nastic will do the same, as Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun reports (Twitter link).

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Bogdanovic, Draft

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak indicated that he hasn’t heard any offers enticing enough to sway him to deal away the No. 2 overall pick this June, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News writes. “It would have to be a heck of an opportunity for us to consider doing something like that,” Kupchak said. “You have to weigh it against who you would get as the second pick. We’re a little bit impatient. So if you came across something that made your team better quicker, that would probably be a veteran. That’s something you would consider.

But the GM also noted that even acquiring a solid veteran might not be enough for the franchise to make a trade, Holmes adds. “Something could be said for having the No. 2 pick in terms of building going forward,” Kupchak said. “You know you’re going to get a really good player. You know you’re going to get a player under a contract that you’ll be able to control for at least five years at a reasonable amount before you have to consider an extension. Those are pluses in addition to getting a heck of a talent.”

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns draft-and-stash pick Bogdan Bogdanovic won’t be making the jump to the NBA next season, and he will remain with the Turkish club Fenerbahce, David Pick of Eurobasket.com tweets. The 22-year-old was the No. 27 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft.
  • The Lakers held workouts today for T.J. McConnell (Arizona), Bryce Dejean-Jones (Iowa State), Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga), Dez Wells (Maryland), Seth Tuttle (Northern Iowa), and Maurice Walker (Minnesota), Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles.com relays.
  • Wyoming big man Larry Nance Jr. has a workout with the Lakers scheduled for next week, Robert Gagliardi of WyomingCowboysBlog.com reports.
  • The Suns worked out Askia Booker (Colorado), Branden Dawson (Michigan State), Kendall Gray (Delaware State), Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington), Le’Bryan Nash (Oklahoma State), and Chris Walker (Florida), Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic relays (via Twitter).

And-Ones: Martin, Fontecchio, Jazz

The Jazz have some roster decisions to make regarding Trevor Booker, Joe Ingles, and Jeremy Evans this offseason, Randy Hollis of The Deseret News writes. Ingles can become a restricted free agent if the team tenders him a qualifying offer, Evans will be an unrestricted free agent, and only $250K of Booker’s $4,775,000 salary for 2015/16 is guaranteed. For their part, all three players want to return to Utah next season, and laud the organization and its coaching staff, Hollis notes. “The Jazz organization, they do a good job. It’s very family oriented, they do a lot of stuff for the fans. I mean, it’s just great,” Booker said. “Washington was a great experience, but I definitely enjoyed my time here in Utah a little more [than his previous four years in Washington with the Wizards].

Out of the three, Evans is the likeliest not to return, with the forward only appearing in 38 games, and averaging just 2.4 points and 1.9 rebounds in 7.0 minutes of action per contest, Hollis adds. “I feel like they have the confidence in me and I trust them that they’re going to make the right decision. That’s what they’re here for,” Evans said about Utah’s front office. “If I’m here, I’m gonna be so happy; I feel like this is my home. If not, I know it’s still going to be a bright future and I wish everybody the best.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • LSU sophomore power forward Jarell Martin has signed with agent Andy Miller of ASM Sports, Darren Heitner of SportsAgentBlog.com tweets. Martin is the 25th-best prospect on Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress rankings and the No. 28 overall prospect according to Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required).
  • Oklahoma State senior swingman Le’Bryan Nash has hired Matt Babcock and Adie von Gontard of APAA Sports Group to represent him, Shams Charania of RealGM reports (Twitter link). Nash is ranked as the No. 98 prospect by ESPN.com.
  • Italian forward Simone Fontecchio, 19, will enter the 2015 NBA Draft, according to his agent Max Resini, Givony tweets. Fontecchio spent the last three seasons with Virtus Bologna of the Italian League. DraftExpress ranks the 6’6″ swingman as the No. 89 prospect in this year’s draft.